Does Nutrition Effect Sleep?

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At Steve’s PaleoGoods, we believe balance is the key to happiness. Eating a real food diet free of junk, moving your body and and getting restful sleep is a paleo recipe for wellness.

Often times, the sleep part of the equation is often the hardest to achieve! For most Americans, there aren’t enough hours in the day, so time is often borrowed from the night. Experts agree, adults need between 7-8 hours of sleep each night, and children need even more. School-aged kids need 9-11, pre-schoolers 10-13 and toddlers 11-14.

Much like nutrition plays an important role in exercise, how we fuel our bodies has a direct correlation on our quality of sleep at night. Those looking for more restful slumber should consider the following intake factors that could be making dream time less sweet.

Like most things in life, when it comes to food, moderation and balance are key. Consuming well balanced meals and snacks spread throughout the day will promote a better night sleep. Skipping meals throughout the day can often lead to overeating at dinner, which leaves one stuffed. A digestive system hard at work as you are trying to wind down can be counter productive. This is especially true for those with GI sensitivity. Conditions like lactose intolerance and irritable bowel syndrome can have an obvious impact on the body’s ability to relax. Knowing GI triggers and avoiding them 4 hours before bedtime can promote a more restful night’s sleep.

It’s a popular misconception that a few glasses of wine before bed can relax you into a restful night’s sleep. Alcoholic drinks might reduce the time it takes to FALL asleep but are proven to disrupt sleep quality and quantity over the course of the evening. Alcohol reduces REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, which is known to be the most restorative. Alcohol also can suppress breathing which leads to snoring and sleep apnea, two conditions that can cause havoc on your rest and lead to serious health problems in the future.

Caffeine is a stimulant that effects each person differently. Many use it in the morning to “get going,” or as jump start in the afternoon because it blocks sleep-inducing chemicals and stimulates adrenaline consumption. There are no health risks associated with moderate caffeine intake, which is considered 250 milligrams a day or what can be found in three cups of coffee. It takes six hours for the body to metabolize caffeine, so if you are are having trouble achieving an relaxing night’s sleep, cut your caffeine after 2pm. Remember, coffee is not the only culprit—some tea, sodas and energy drinks all contain caffeine.

Who doesn’t love a sweet treat before bedtime? For many people, it’s part of a nightly routine, but those who are sensitive to sugar might want to reconsider. When sugar is consumed, a person’s blood sugar increases and then falls rapidly as the body releases hormones to bring the levels under control. The combo of fluctuating blood sugar and hormone levels can impair the ZZZZZs.

Getting a good night’s rest has been linked to improved mood, increased productivity, good health and a longer life! Fuel your body for performance AND for sleep and watch your sleep dreams come true!

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