We all know that food has a huge impact on our physical condition and how we feel. However, it can have a huge impact on the way that we sleep.

And it’s no secret that if our sleep is affected, then that has a knock effect to the rest of our lives. Diet and sleep are inextricably linked.

Food habits that can lead to disrupted sleep

The time that you eat can also have a significant impact on your sleep. It is very likely to affect whether you drift into sleep easily or not and the quality of sleep you have.

When you go to sleep hungry, your body is going to know that it’s hungry and it isn’t going to have as much energy to work with to help you to recover from the day. This is going to cause you problems when you are trying to get to sleep and with getting decent enough quality sleep to feel rested when you wake up.

However, eating right before bed causes your body to spend time and energy digesting what you were eating just prior to turning in for the night. The other side effect is that it is likely to cause you to get up in the night to use the bathroom, which is of course hugely disruptive and can lead to difficulties in getting back to sleep afterwards.

If you do need to eat late at night, something simple and small like a bowl of (non-sugary) cereal with milk would help.

The combination of dairy and carbohydrates makes it easier for your body to digest tryptophan, which will help you to fall asleep like you took a dose of melatonin.


You should also cut out foods that upset your stomach during the evening meal to make sure you do not have indigestion or heartburn during the night. This will make it very difficult to sleep for longer periods of time, making it harder to function during the day.

Alcohol might help you get to sleep easier, but it’s going to make it harder for you to stay asleep and to get into the REM sleep that you need. Caffeine, on the other hand, will keep you from falling asleep for up to eight hours after you ingest it. Keep all alcohol intake to three to four hours before bed in order to avoid these issues.

Keeping a diary

If you think that your diet could be causing you enough problems that you are struggling to sleep, keep a food and sleep diary for a few weeks and talk to either your doctor or a nutritionist. They will be able to help you figure out patterns that lead to poor sleep so that you can make your life happier, healthier and more well-rested.

Decent bedding is crucial

You should also make sure that your bedding is cool and comfortable, with a mattress that’s been purchased in the last ten years at minimum and is suitable for your health needs.

You should also avoid doing heavy exercise right before bed, replacing it instead with yoga or meditation to help you relax. Learn what you need to do to relax before bed and make that into your routine.

Diet and sleep are absolutely connected and have a direct impact on your health. Give yourself the best chance of sleeping well when making your eating choices.


Ellie Porter – The Sleep Help Institute. www.sleephelp.org

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