Have Problems With Insomnia? Check What You Eat.

November 3, 2019

 

You know how you feel after a sleepless night. Grumpy, tired, foggy. 

 

And long-term inadequate sleep can lead to more serious multiple medical and other issues. To name a few:

 

Accidents. Motor vehicle accidents, one sleepless night can slow reaction time as much as driving drunk. Work related accidents, like the 1979 nuclear accident at Three Mile Island, the massive Exxon Valdez oil spill, the 1986 nuclear meltdown at Chernobyl, and others.

 

Mental problems. Lack of adequate sleep leads to the development of Alzheimer dementia long-term, and short-term impairs thinking and learning.[1]

 

Multiple medical problems, like obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), sexual dysfunction, depression and anxiety, immunosuppression with increase risk for infection and even cancer.

 

Shortens your lifespan and increase risk of death.[2]

 

Decrease ability to exercise [3]

 

Increase aging of the skin.[4]

 

There are multiple factors that influence our issues with sleep. Most are self inflicted:

  • blue light overexposure,

  • spending too much time with electronics, TV, smart phones, etc., 

  • busy modern lifestyle and ignorance regarding the need for sleep,

  • eating wrong food and at a wrong time

  • exercising at night.

 

Let's look how our eating habits affect our sleep.

 

Eating late. Need to stop all eating at least 3 hours before bed to:

allow food to be digested and move from the stomach to the small intestine, minimizing reflux; 

eating can raise your core body temperature, and we need to drop it by about two to three degrees Fahrenheit to initiate sleep and then to stay asleep (that’s why it’s easily to sleep in a cold room than a hot room).

 

If you are hungry, avoid a high-carb, low-fat  food, that leads to less of the most beneficial slow-wave sleep—the deepest phase of NREM[5]. Eating refined carbs at least 4 h prior to sleep this can lead to surges in blood sugar and subsequent crashes, which can keep you up at night.[6]

 

Eating high-fat food prior to bedtime promotes lower sleep efficiency and REM and higher slow-wave sleep and arousals.[7]

 

Avoid alcohol as a sleeping aid, as it causes fragmented sleep (vacillating between non-REM light and one-minute wake-ups, without realizing it), stimulates diuresis (going to the bathroom), blocks REM sleep, as well as increases resting heart rate, temperature and respiratory rate.[8] 

 

Caffeine, from coffee, green tea, energy drinks, and soda, increase heart rate and can cause feelings of nervousness and anxiety, that prevents you from falling asleep. Avoid using caffeine 14 hours before you expect to go to sleep, as caffeine has a half life on average for most people of about six hours, it has a quarter life of 12 hours. Even for people who say they sleep just fine after consuming caffeine, one study showed that 200 mg of caffeine before bed resulted in a 20% reduction in deep sleep (the same as aging you 20 or 30 years to get the same drop).

 

Acidic food can irritate the stomach lining, triggering indigestion, heartburn, and acid reflux—which can interfere with sleep. Despite their health benefits, tomatoes are surprisingly highly acidic and contain tyramine, which triggers the brain to release norepinephrine, a stimulant known to increase brain activity and inhibit sleep (No more pizza!).

 

Spicy foods can lead to a restless night by raising your core temperature , and they also tend to be acidic, which can lead to abdominal discomfort and heartburn.[9]

 

If you want to sleep well- watch what you eat and when!

 

Do not exercise for 2 hours before bedtime if you want to get a good night sleep also.[10] 

 

For more information on healthy lifestyle and sleep hygiene please make an appointment with Dr. Val Koganski by calling 215-750-7000, or online: https://www.newtowninternalmedicine.com

 

References.

1. Andrew S. P. Lim, MD, et al. Sleep Fragmentation and the Risk of Incident Alzheimer's Disease and Cognitive Decline in Older Persons.  Sleep. 2013 Jul 1; 36(7): 1027–1032. Published online 2013 Jul 1. doi: 10.5665/sleep.2802

2. https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/10-results-sleep-loss#3, accessed on 11/03/2019

3. Martin BJ. Effect of sleep deprivation on tolerance of prolonged exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1981;47(4):345-54.

4. University Hospitals Case Medical Center. "Sleep deprivation linked to aging skin, study suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 July 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/07/130723155002.htm>

5. F Phillips, et al. ISOCALORIC DIET CHANGES AND ELECTROENCEPHALOGRAPHIC SLEEP .The Lancet. Volume 306, Issue 7938, 18 October 1975, Pages 723-725

6. Ahmad Afaghi, et al. High-glycemic-index carbohydrate meals shorten sleep onset. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol 85, 2, February 2007, 426–430, doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/85.2.426
7. St-Onge, Marie-Pierre et al. Effects of Diet on Sleep Quality. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.) vol. 7,5 938-49. 15 Sep. 2016, doi:10.3945/an.116.012336 

8. Ebrahim IO1,et al. Alcohol and sleep I: effects on normal sleep. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2013 Apr;37(4):539-49. doi: 10.1111/acer.12006. Epub 2013 Jan 24.

9. Stephen J. Edwards, et al. Spicy meal disturbs sleep: an effect of thermoregulation? International Journal of Psychophysiology. Vol 13, 2, September 1992, Pages 97-100

10. Brett A. Dolezal, et al. Interrelationship between Sleep and Exercise: A Systematic Review. Adv Prev Med. 2017; 2017: 1364387. Published online 2017 Mar 26. doi: 10.1155/2017/1364387PMCID: PMC5385214PMID: 28458924

 

 

 

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