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Your Dinner May be Interrupting Your Sleep

August 30, 2019 2:58 am
Published by: Dr. Ann Lovick

3 Reasons Why Your Food May Be Keeping You Awake At Night

After a long day at work, most people cannot wait to fall into bed and sleep.  But not everyone gets to enjoy a good night’s rest.  Some people have trouble falling asleep, whereas others have trouble staying asleep.  But without at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep, the body’s ability to function in hindered.  It’s ok to have a sleepless night every once in awhile, but when it becomes a regular occurrence, it needs to be addressed.

There are a few prescription medicines that help with insomnia, but they do not drop you into a deep, restorative stage of sleep.  They basically keep you from lying awake all night.  Unfortunately, you do not wake refreshed.

Sleep hygiene is important. To ensure a good night’s sleep:

  • Make sure your bedroom is cool and dark
  • Remove all electronic devices such as smart phones and laptops
  • Take a hot shower before going to bed
  • Avoid stimulants such as coffee after 5pm
  • Be mindful of what you eat for dinner

Huh?  What does dinner have to do with sleep?

First, eating a late dinner full of heavy, fried foods, or spicy foods, can trigger digestive problems. A large fatty meal can be difficult to digest and cause abdominal discomfort.  It can also trigger painful acid reflux.  Pain is not conducive to a restful sleep.

Eating food that you are allergic to can also cause insomnia.  Your body produces histamine in response to an allergen entering the body. Histamine is very stimulating to the brain.  Anti-histamines make most people sleepy because they remove this excitatory chemical from the brain.   Whenever my patient tells me they take Benadryl to sleep, I know that I need to assess them for food allergies.

Did you eat dinner?  If your blood sugar dips in the middle of the night, it signals a crisis to the body. So your adrenal glands release cortisol. Cortisol tells the liver to dump glucagon (a storage form of sugar) into the bloodstream to restore your blood sugar levels.  The release of cortisol is stimulating and often wakes people up and makes it difficult to fall back asleep.

If you cannot sleep, your body cannot heal itself.  Make sure to talk to your doctor about possible testing as well as natural options to support a healthy night’s sleep.