Tossing and turning in the night through a lack of sleep can have huge impacts on your body, and there are a number of different factors that can affect your quality of sleep.
Exercise, drinks and activity is all commonly thought to undermine your sleep the most, but the food you eat (and at what time you eat it!) is sometimes the biggest influence.
Eating at certain times of the day has been proven to affect normal bodily functions, but what effect does it have on our sleeping pattern and quality of sleep?
Here is why it’s important to find the best time to have dinner for optimal sleep:
Types of meals
Big dinners that are heavy on your stomach temporarily make you more drowsy but also interfere with your sleep in the long-run.
The type of food that you eat also has an impact on your sleep quality, with certain food groups being potentially detrimental to your nights’ rest.
Spicy foods like chillies along with other spices can lead to heartburn and indigestion that will undoubtedly make your nights’ sleep less than perfect.
Gas-forming foods like milk and dairies, oats and beans can also have an impact on your sleep as the abdominal discomfort that comes with extra gases being produced inside your body can leave you feeling bloated and uncomfortable.
Eating in the morning vs. evening
It’s not the best idea to eat a heavy, calorie-dense meal in the evening; they’re better suited to earlier in the day.
Linda Morgan from the University of Surrey conducted a study that measured the effect a meal has on your body at different times of the day. She got people to eat exactly the same meal in the morning and in the evening, measuring the how long it took for the body to breakdown the food.
Her results shown that blood glucose levels after an evening meal being much higher than earlier in the day; indicating that the body takes longer to break down food in the evening than it does in the morning.
The golden rule: 3 hours
Advice is all over the internet recommending the optimal time for dinner to fall asleep, but nutritionists and sleep experts always say that you should never eat 3 hours before bedtime.
Because eating a heavy meal increases your body temperature and blood sugar levels whilst preventing melatonin and slowing growth hormone release, it’s ideal to leave some space between your evening meal and sleep for your body to break down the foods and get back to its’ normal functions.
Interrupted sleep can lead to sleep deprivation; which is likely to cause cravings the following day and increase your chances of over-eating. These tips can help you time your daily meals with your sleeping pattern, improving your nights’ sleep in a comfy mattress and general overall health!