Can’t Sleep? It Could Be Due to Your Late Night Eating & Drinking Habits

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blog060315-heroWe’ve all been there. You eat dinner after getting home from a long day of work and just a few hours later, like clockwork, your belly starts telling your brain, “Hey, feed me!”

Now, eating a late night snack in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing; but eating the wrong foods at a late hour can have a significant impact on the quality of your sleep, which, in turn, can set the stage for a lack of productivity and feeling of sleepiness the following day.

Fortunately, with a little education and self-discipline from our sleep apnea dentists, you’ll be armed with the information you need in order to avoid foods that may contribute to poor sleep, and instead, focus only on eating the right foods for your late night snack.


Why not try some Tryptophan-rich foods?

If you struggle with falling asleep when it’s time to turn out the lights, then trying some foods and beverages rich in Tryptophan may help you. In fact, Tryptophan is known for its ability to help people fall sleep, and can be found in many ordinary foods, such as dairy products, nuts, honey, seeds and more.

If you’re not lactose intolerant, then drinking a warm glass of milk loaded with Tryptophan may be just what you need to fall asleep and stay asleep, naturally.


A few great bedtime snacks to curb your appetite and promote good sleep

If you have trouble falling asleep without some food in your belly, try these snacks. They provide the body with both carbohydrates (which make Tryptophan more available to the brain) and a little protein.

Here are a few ideas:

  • A bowl of cereal with milk
  • A few crackers with peanut butter
  • Chicken noodle soup
  • A handful of walnuts
  • A small bowl of rice

Overeating any of these foods shortly before bed can lead to possible weight gain, but when done in moderation, they can assist you in falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer.


Avoid caffeine and foods that are high in fat (stimulants)

It’s no secret that you shouldn’t go and drink several cups of coffee or a few sodas before trying to go to sleep. However, what many people don’t realize is that it isn’t just coffee and soda. There are a few common late night foods that you’ll want to avoid (or at least limit) if you want to fall asleep faster.

A few of them are:

  • Chocolate (I know…this one stings a bit). In fact, the darker the chocolate, the more caffeine blog060315-pic1it contains. This is why eating dark chocolate or drinking an espresso can be especially harmful to anyone who is trying to sleep well.
  • Spicy foods (beef jerky, salty foods with a spicy kick, etc.)
  • Late night burgers, tacos, bacon, etc. Any foods that are high in fat cause the body to increase acid production, which can lead to heartburn that can disrupt an otherwise restful night of sleep.

Any foods that are high in fat or high in caffeine can wreak havoc on your sleep cycle, and are best avoided.

In addition, these foods are also heavy and activate the digestive system, which can lead to multiple trips to the bathroom throughout the night.


Like a glass of wine or beer at night? Only in moderation

Since alcohol is a depressant, it must help you sleep better, right? Wrong.

Alcohol does seem to help some people fall asleep faster, but this effect is often countered when a person experiences night sweats and frequent trips to the bathroom during the night.

The best advice is to avoid alcohol in the hours leading up to your bedtime, but if a glass of wine or beer really helps you settle down, it’s best to have only one drink, and counterbalance the effects of the alcohol with a small glass of water.

As always, drink responsibly and in moderation.


Quit Smoking

The negative health blog060315-pic2effects associated with smoking are well documented, but one problem many smokers aren’t aware of is that smoking can actually disrupt your sleep schedule.

Nicotine is a stimulant, and much like caffeine and fatty foods, can significantly impair your ability to sleep well.

The solution is simple, but not easy. Stop smoking. At the very least, try to avoid smoking before bedtime or during the night, as a disrupted sleep cycle is just another one of the long list of side effects associated with smoking cigarettes.


What now?

Now that you understand what foods you can eat and what foods and beverages to avoid, it’s time to make a decision. Is it worth a better night’s sleep to give up some of your late night bad habits?blog060315-pic3

Or are you already doing everything that you can on your own to sleep better, but still struggling with getting peaceful sleep that you so desperately need to function at an optimal level?

At Babylon Dental Care (link red to homepage), we provide sleep apnea treatment services to our patients. Even if you think you couldn’t possibly have sleep apnea, it’s important to get tested so you can pinpoint the problem.

The tests are easy, painless, and can be done in the convenience of your own home (no overnight hospital sleep study required). For more information on sleep apnea testing and treatment give our Great South Bay or Patchogue location a call today!

Sources:

http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/ss/slideshow-sleep-foods

http://sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/food-and-sleep

http://www.prevention.com/health/sleep-energy/best-foods-eat-night-help-you-sleep

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