5 Surprising Ways Your Eating Habits Are Disrupting Your Sleep
With the holidays fast approaching and the bounty of pumpkin-spice-everything all around, it can be hard to avoid extra calories and stick with good eating habits.
It’s no secret that what you eat and when affects your quality of sleep. Your body works harder when digesting food, so it’s normal to nod off after a big meal like a Thanksgiving dinner. (But then toss & turn when it’s time for bed).
To help ensure your holiday diet’s not causing sleepless nights, here are a few eating tips to keep in mind:
Caffeine hiding spots
Did you know it can take your body up to five hours to get the caffeine out of your system? Most people don’t drink caffeinated beverages late in the afternoon because of their jittery side effects.
But did you know there are some sneaky ways caffeine hides in your food? A chocolate candy car can have up to 30 milligrams of caffeine (about ⅓ cup of coffee). Watch out for foods made with chocolate or cocoa powder, such as hot chocolate, cookies, cake, and other desserts that can stimulate your system.
Make it an early nightcap
Having a glass of wine with dinner probably won’t harm your sleep. On the other hand, a nightcap (or two) close to bedtime might make you feel sleepy, but you won’t sleep as soundly and may wake up feeling groggy.
Alcohol suppresses your REM sleep stage (the final stage in your sleep cycle), where most of your dreaming occurs. Without enough REM sleep, you won’t feel rested or rejuvenated.
Slumber doesn’t love spice
You may want to think twice before having poblano cornbread stuffing or spicy green bean casserole with dinner (as delicious as they may be).
Eating fiery, spicy foods too close to bedtime can lead to sleep disturbances. Spices tend to cause heartburn, indigestion, and reflux, which is very uncomfortable and can keep you up at night.
Time it right
If you’re planning on enjoying a big dinner, it’s best to eat early rather than late into the evening. Eating a heavy meal late at night can take longer to digest and make you uncomfortable. Your body’s functions slow down in the evening as it prepares for a good night’s sleep.
Sometimes a small nighttime snack can help you feel satisfied and prevent hunger from waking you up. Stick with complex carbohydrates like whole grains and protein like peanut butter or lean cheese. Drinking milk or herbal tea can be a comforting remedy to help you feel more relaxed.
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