Last week I gave you 4 Do’s and 4 Don’ts for natural sleep remedies. Having a sleep routine can help your body start to relax and get into ‘sleep mode’!
There are truly so many things that can affect your sleep. Another one of these things is your diet. Diet can play a huge part in how you’re sleeping. You may think some things don’t bother your sleep pattern (ie. you’re able to fall asleep super quick), but they may actually impact your ability to reach REM sleep. And remember, it’s when you’re in REM sleep when your body can really focus on healing! Alcohol, recreational drugs, coffee and even allergies all can affect your REM sleep. Even if you only drink coffee in the morning because the caffeine affects your neurochemistry.
“Digestion is supposed to slow by about 50% while you’re sleeping but if you eat a lot of protein, you digest [even] more slowly,” explains Rosenberg. Instead of focusing on sleeping, your body is focusing on digesting. (16 Best & Worst Foods For Sleep, ABC News)
So that begs the question, what else should I avoid so that my body won’t focus on digesting when I sleep, but instead allow it to do what it’s supposed to do and HEAL me!
Take a look at this list and see if you can start to cut back on some of the foods listed here.
Cut the Caffeine
You may think that your morning cup of coffee isn’t affecting your sleep, but guess what! It does! Caffeine is a psychoactive stimulant and affects your nervous system. Experts have suggested not to drink (or eat) caffeine at least 8 HOURS before going to bed! And some even think it should be more like 12!
Coffee isn’t the only source of caffeine! Don’t forget about chocolate, pop, teas and even decaffeinated coffees and teas may still have some caffeine. And guess what! That’s not all. Did you know that some over the counter and prescription meds contain caffeine as well. Make sure to check the labels, and drug information sheets, of everything you take to see if it contains this additive. Sure it can help with a headache, but some medications may have just as much caffeine as your morning cup of joe!
Steer Clear of Food Additives
Food additives such as preservatives, artificial flavoring, artificial coloring, artificial sweeteners, synthetic antioxidants, texture enhancers and other things. Many of these are nervous system stimulants and affect our children’s (and our) behaviors during the day AND at night! Just like caffeine will ramp up your system, food additives will do the exact same thing. These days they’re in almost everything from Chinese food to process foods! Even if a box says ‘all natural’ on it, make sure to look at the ingredients list!!! If you don’t recognize it or you can’t pronounce it, you want to steer clear of it.
Ditch the Gluten, Dairy & Sugar
Getting rid of gluten may be so affective that it can help your child sleep throughout the entire night! Sugars spike our glucose levels which release excess energy into the body. This energy is then used by the brain and can keep us up thinking and thinking and thinking!
The following has been taken from a post that Dr. Doni has posted on her site:
How does imbalanced blood sugar disrupt your sleep? Let’s have a look at the process, step-by-step:
Step 1: Eating sugar or carbs first boosts your blood sugar, giving you a burst of energy which could cause you to stay up later than you’d like, especially if you eat them too close to bedtime.
Step 2: Then, as insulin moves the sugar out of your blood and into your cells, you get the inevitable drop in blood sugar, causing you to feel sleepy and maybe even to fall asleep. Good news, right? Wrong!
Step 3: This dip in your blood sugar triggers a stress response in your body, and both cortisol and adrenaline levels will increase, which could wake you up again! See the next piece in this series to learn more about the role cortisol plays in sleep—but just imagine how you might feel if your body experiences a stress response due to low blood sugar while you are trying to sleep. It is quite likely you’ll wake up, you may feel the need to go to the bathroom and, because your body has finished turning that sugar into energy, it now wants more so you actually feel hungry again causing you to wake for a midnight snack. (Dr. Doni, Imbalanced Blood Sugar Levels Affect Your Sleep)
Cutting out gluten, dairy and sugar can help regulate your blood sugar and cur down on your sleep disturbances!
Avoid High Fat Dinners
High protein and fatty foods take much longer for our body to digest. Both require additional stomach acids that can end up causing you heartburn if you eat and then lay down. When the body is digesting food it can’t relax and go into total sleep mode. Protein rich foods also stimulate the production of amino acids into the blood stream. These amino acids are actually stimulants and can end up “turning on all the lights” in your body! They also can prevent your brain from getting the tryptophan it needs to start to relax.
Alcohol may help you fall asleep quickly, but the sugars metabolize quickly and actually cause you to wake up several times during the night. Especially in the second half of the night. This will definitely prevent you from getting the amount of REM sleep you need! This Time article goes into more explanation about sleep and alcohol. It’s really interesting – take a look at it!
Eating ‘clean’ can really help you fall asleep faster, sleep more soundly, achieve that REM stage of sleep and allow you to get better in tuned with your circadian rhythm. You may have noticed that all of the items on this are inflammatory in nature! And that’s not a coincidence! Inflammation can and will wreak havoc in our bodies. And guess what, E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G is affected! Pain, joints, mood, SLEEP!
Have you found a food that disturbs your sleep? Leave it in the comments! Someone else might just be suffering from the same problem!
Wishing You A Pain Free Day!