Does What I Eat or Drink Affect My Sleep?
Definitely. Caffeine and alcohol are the two biggest culprits, but other substances may affect your sleep too.
Caffeine even in small doses blocks sleep neurotransmitters. If you have a problem with sleep, cut out coffee and any caffeinated beverages (even in the morning). Caffeine is not just in coffee. It’s in colas and other soft drinks, tea, even some herbal teas, chocolate and some medications (Anacin and Excedrin, for example). There’s even a little caffeine in decaffeinated coffee. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant with a half life typically of up to 7 hours. But for some people it may be much longer especially if you are taking an oral contraceptive, some medications, have liver problems or are just getting older.
Alcohol has an initial sleep inducing effect, but when broken down by the body, it can lighten sleep and causes frequent and early awakening. Alcohol interacts with GABA receptors, blocking the brain’s oxygen sensors, cutting oxygen and complicating sleep conditions, particularly for sleep apnea. Habitual alcohol consumption just before bedtime can reduce it’s sleep-inducing effect, while its disruptive effects continue or even increase.
Tobacco acts as a stimulant and blocks sleep neurotransmitters.
Many medications, such as antihistamines, diuretics, antipsychotics, antidepressants decongestants, asthma medications, and some blood pressure medicines, also cause sleeplessness. If you’re taking any necessary medication that interrupts your sleep, talk with your doctor about an alternative.
Certain foods can cause food reactions or sensitivities which can effect your sleep cycle. Refined grains and sugars before bed can raise blood sugar and overstress the organs involved in hormone regulation throughout the body. This hormone roller coaster can affect sleep cycles by waking you up at odd times during sleep as the hormone levels fluctuate.
Too many liquids in the 4 hrs before bed can effect you too. Try not to drink too much before turning in.
So eliminating caffeine, alcohol, sugar and refined grains and the common food allergens, gluten and dairy, is a good place to start.