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This post was originally published on my blog DogMomStyle.com.
Could the foods I eat be keeping me up at night? Have you ever tossed and turned all night only to fall into a deep sleep an hour before your alarm goes off? It happens to me all the time. I don't feel stressed out. I don't have a load on my mind. I just can't sleep. And this is a problem because not only do I lack the energy to play with my dogs, I lack patience and I'm forgetful (not good when you need to thaw dog food).
So what's the problem? I've tried not working on my blog at night, turning off the television, and avoiding games and apps. And I still can't sleep. So, could it be my diet?
It's no secret that what we eat impacts our overall health and wellbeing. Food is what fuels our bodies, helping us perform every day. And in my research to figure out if my diet was causing my insomnia, I found a list of foods that strongly impact sleep patterns and I've been guilty of consuming a few of these foods as a “treat” before bedtime.
I have a lot going on. A full-time job, four dogs and one cat (and making their food), a side business, and more. I have to get my sleep or else I won't get anything accomplished and I'll be in a piss poor mood as I procrastinate. It's no secret that quality sleep is a vital component to having a well-balanced life, both mentally and physically. Some types of foods are rich in nutrients that keep our bodies energized and alert. Nothing wrong with those foods, they just shouldn't be on the menu when we're picking out a late-night snack.
Here are a few foods to avoid at night so you can wake up feeling fully rested the following morning.
Carb Rich Foods
Carbs tend to be a crowd favorite, but consuming them at night can make it difficult to fall asleep properly. I don't plan to give up my sourdough bread, but I will move this particular carb up to lunches and earlier dinner times. Our bodies convert pasta and other carb-rich foods to sugar for energy, which keeps our bodies in “active mode”. Eating carbs is also known to cause some pretty vivid and upsetting dreams. You can still eat carbs during the day if you wish, but try staying away from them at night to ensure a good night’s rest.
Sometimes a late-night chocolate snack sounds like a great idea, but it can drastically harm sleeping patterns because chocolate has caffeine in it and caffeine is the most widely consumed nervous system stimulant. So while that chocolate treat tastes delish, it's also increasing alertness and make us feel less tired. When you want to sleep well, caffeine is the last thing you will want to consume. Which sucks, because I eat chocolate to celebrate a great day and I choose chocolate to boost a down mood. I guess I'll have to enjoy my treat earlier in the day.
Similar to chocolate, stay away from any beverages that contain caffeine. Caffeine is a desired sleeper’s worst nightmare. This includes soda, certain teas, coffee, etc. When your body is wired up from caffeine, it will make it nearly impossible to settle down and sleep properly. If you really want to have a beverage at night, there are plenty of decaffeinated options that won't disturb your sleep.
I'm a huge herbal tea fan and drink at least one mug daily. I've learned to appreciate my tea without sugar, only adding pure sugar or raw honey during the day if I'm craving something sweet.
When you sit down to watch a movie at night, it can be tempting to reach for chips, buttered popcorn or something greasy along those lines. In terms of sleep quality, greasy foods have a track record of keeping people up at night due to how difficult it is for your body to digest these kinds of foods. When your body has to work extra hard to digest food, it's bound to keep you up at night tossing and turning.
And this explains so very much. I often snack on chips (I love the low salt Lays) or microwave popcorn when watching movies. Ummmm, duhhhh, they're yummy snacks. It never occurred to me that the tossing and turning was because of my snack and not the scary movie I just watched.
How I Improve My Sleep
We all understand that sleep is incredibly important for good overall health. Having a basic understanding of how certain foods impact our sleep patterns will help me make better diet/snack choices. We can still consume the foods mentioned above, we just need to chow down well before bedtime to avoid insomnia.
If you're still having trouble sleeping despite having made better diet choices – hey, it happens – here are a few things that help me sack out at night.
Diffuse Essential Oils
Diffusing essential oils that promote calmness in the room where I sleep not only helps me relax, but it keeps me in that state through the night. My favorite oils are:
Take CBD Oil an Hour Before Bedtime
I take CBD oil an hour before bedtime and a couple of hours after my last meal. I prefer tinctures that I can put directly on my tongue because it's quickly absorbed in my system.
Making time after work to get my heart rate pumping has been magical when it comes to getting a good night's sleep. This should be an obvious answer, right? For me, it wasn't because I wasn't exercising to my full potential. I was doing 20-minute sessions on my elliptical, when I should have been doing at least 45 minutes followed up by 30 minutes on my Total Gym.
I work out at least three days a week, with the goal of increasing this to five days a week. Not only does this help me sleep, but I'm in a much better mood too.
And, finally, there are natural supplements that can help you get to sleep, including:
A brand that I've read great things about and is also cruelty-free, organic, and natural is NATURELO. Two products they offer that help with sleep are:
I've been trying to get into meditation for years. I've downloaded multiple apps, tried videos on YouTube, and even joined groups. I just can't silent my mind because I have a To-Do List that is on repeat in my head. However, when I first wake up in the morning, I can quiet the thoughts in my brain for at least five minutes.
Turn Off Electronics
I don't know if it's the screen, the images, or the sounds – maybe all three – but watching television, working on my computer, or playing games will keep me up. If it's a good series or book, I'll be up all night. I do read when I go to bed, but the CBD oil or melatonin keeps me from pulling an all-nighter.
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