How Does Diet Affect Sleep Quality?

how does diet affect sleep

Nutrition Messes Up Your Sleep Quality?

When was the last time you got a solid night of sleep (8 hours+)? Anytime we can get more sleep usually equates to being healthier overall – which is what we want in the DIY Nation, right?  What if your lack of sleep is related to what you eat? Use these nutrition tips below to help you remedy that situation – we can all use more shut-eye!

Sleep Quality and Nutrition

Insomnia or lack of sleep is one of mankind’s oldest maladies. There is nothing worse than getting into bed, switching off the light, but tossing and turning until the early hours of dawn.

You will be amazed at how often the cause for lack of sleep is unknowingly self-inflicted. One of the major causes of insomnia is an unsuitable diet and unhealthy eating habits.

Here, we take a look at how the way you eat and what you eat can affect your sleep quality and 11 simple ways to eat better and therefore sleep better.

1. A Banana a Day…

This might come as a surprise, but including a banana in your daily diet, preferably during the second part of the day will help. Bananas are rich in potassium and magnesium and also contain muscle-relaxing nutrients along with loads of other nutrients which are good for overall health.

They also contain tryptophan, an amino acid that induces sleep, which gets converted into serotonin which is a relaxant, and melatonin which is a sedative.

2. Sleep Quality CoffeeControl your Coffee

Researchers have proven that the caffeine from a single cup of coffee remains in the system for up to 12 hours.

So, the best remedy would be to enjoy your morning coffee to kick-start your day, but avoid consuming any more for the rest of the day. This alone should make a marked difference to how you sleep at night.

3. Carbohydrates at Dinnertime

According to a recent survey conducted by the University of Sydney, Australia, sleep comes faster than those who eat rice for dinner. Rice is rich in tryptophan-producing sugars, which are eventually transformed into serotonin and melatonin, which induce relaxation and sleepiness.

Similar results can be obtained by the consumption of bread, cereal, and pasta.

4. Hazards of a Crash Diet

On measuring your daily calorie intake, consumption of fewer than 1,200 calories a day (recommended in several diet programs), you are probably missing out on some major ingredients which could contribute to your insomnia.

Calcium, which is found in dairy products, and magnesium from green vegetables and nuts serve as relaxants that help you sleep better. Matters can deteriorate further if you aren’t getting enough iron, vitamins B and C, and folic acid.

To ensure that you get a sufficient quantity of all of these, your diet should contain fruit, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, low fat dairy products and lean meat.

5. Say No to Alcohol

Drink if you must, but do avoid alcohol just before bed. Studies show that even a couple of pegs before bed induces a night of deep sleep, bypassing the initial stage of Rapid Eye Movement (REM) which is the stage of sleep where people dream during the first 90 minutes of sleep and is believed to be restorative.

Although sleep may be heavy during the first half of the night after alcohol consumption, it gets disrupted during the second half – it’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul!

6. Follow a Low-Salt Diet

While cooking, just go easy on the salt you use. While consuming processed foods like soups, bread, pasta, and so on, you are likely to consume enhanced volumes of sodium, which can wreak havoc on your sleep pattern by increasing your blood pressure and causing dehydration.

Sleep Quality Water7. Drink Lots of Water

It has been proved that a person gets a better sleeping experience when they are hydrated. On average, a person should consume about six to eight glasses of water during the course of a single day.

However, you need to use your noodle here – if you are going to be running the restroom throughout the night, you need to avoid consuming liquids about three hours before you go to bed.

8. Say no to Fatty Foods

Foods that are rich in fat are only going to usher in cardiac problems and a host of other related health issues as well.

If you eat fatty food before hitting the sack, chances are that you will get a lot less sleep than if you had avoided it. If you eat meat for dinner, stick to lean meat.

9. Eat Smaller Meals, More Frequently

Have a meal of something nutritious every few hours. This will help your body and brain to produce an adequate mix of neurotransmitters and hormones, sending you to dreamland faster and all night. Ideally, instead of having three large meals, you should have six small meals spread evenly throughout the day.

Avoid going to bed hungry, because your body will instinctively urge you to find food, thereby keeping you awake. Hence, a small snack just before bedtime is justified.

10. Time your Last Meal of the Day

The last meal that you take in the evening should be at least two to three hours before you turn in, which keeps the melatonin and blood sugar levels at an optimum.

If you have a large meal, the blood flow is increased to your digestive tract, which stimulates the secretion of gastric acid, and the intestinal muscles start to work overtime, causing an increase in metabolic activity in your body, at a time when it should actually be slowing down.

Another problem with eating a large meal just before bedtime is that gastric acid has a tendency to rise into the esophagus, resulting in reflux which in turn disrupts sleep.


Of course, eating well is only part of the picture when it comes to sleep quality.

There are also other keys to good sleep, including eliminating light sources, having an air purifier in the bedroom, and using the bedroom only for sleep.

Janet Miller is a serial entrepreneur, yogi, reformed workaholic and co-founder of Jen Reviews
Janet Miller