Your Terrible Eating Habits Are the Reason You Can’t Sleep

By Aly Walansky |

© Vintage Images / Alamy

If you are having trouble sleeping, you may want to skip eating that burrito right before bed. A new study has found what years of indigestion has taught us: what we eat impacts our health on every level, including the quality of our sleep.

The study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine revealed that when we eat more fiber, we’re more likely to spend more time in deep sleep, while higher percentages of saturated fat leads to less sleep. Large amounts of sugar also lead to less quality sleep. 

"It’s not surprising to learn that what you eat affects how well or poorly you sleep. Everything is connected. That means, eating a healthy diet has benefits beyond weight loss—it can help increase energy, boost mood and improve shut-eye, as this study shows. If you’re spending a lot of time tossing and turning at night, it’s worth taking a look at your diet. And the good news: Tiny tweaks—replacing white rice with quinoa or choosing skinless poultry or fish instead of fatty, marbled meat, for instance—may be just what the doctor ordered to help you sleep more soundly,” says Joy Bauer, MS, RDN, nutrition expert for NBC’s Today show and best-selling author of From Junk Food to Joy Food.

“Consuming too much sugar will leave you feeling tired but wired, elevating your stress hormones leading to breakdown of muscle tissue and increasing potential for fat storage,” explains Brad Davidson, fitness expert and nutritionist, and author of The Stark Naked 21-Day Metabolic Reset. “Carbs create a major spike in insulin producing the neurotransmitters that make you lethargic and want to take a nap.  Save carbs for dinner to dramatically improve your ability to sleep,” says Davidson. “In addition, one thing people don’t realize is that research has also shown that eating a meal at night with carbs in it helps induce sleep as it enhances pathways in our body that make us sleepy; whereas protein blocks those pathways making you feel more awake. But be aware this doesn’t mean eating a bunch of junk carbohydrates before bed. High sugar carbs will make you crash quickly but they will disrupt overall sleep,” says Davidson.

Something to consider next time you are craving a midnight snack!

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