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Stop Self-sabotaging Your Nightly Rest and Clean up Your Poor Sleep Diet - Now!

If you're having trouble getting to sleep at night, you're not alone. But the answer to your problems may be hiding in an unexpected place. There are some health experts who believe that many sleep problems actually stem from our diets. We know, it sounds insane - but after reading this article, you may change your mind. Below are the top dietary mistakes most people make which prevents them from getting quality rest at night.

The Anatomy of a Poor Sleep Diet: If This Sounds Too Familiar, You Need to Change Your Ways

This may surprise many people, but the worst part of your poor sleep diet doesn't start with what you eat - it starts with what you drink. There are two very specific beverages which, when consumed in excess or consumed at the wrong time of day, will drastically interfere with your ability to get quality rest.

The first one is alcohol. We know you feel as though you sleep better after you've had a nightcap. And there's a very good reason most nighttime cold medicines are 10% alcohol. But alcohol's ability to make you fall asleep is not only short-lived, it's also overshadowed by the negative impact it has on your quality of rest. If you fall asleep while intoxicated, you are much more likely to wake up in the middle of the night. Furthermore, it may be nearly impossible for you to get back to sleep. And no matter how many hours you o'clock, your rest will not be healthful or restorative. If your body is too busy metabolizing the alcohol, it can't detox your brain or your other major organs. Daily damage will build up in the cells of those organs, causing more and more harm over time. Excessive alcohol abuse, especially over many years, can permanently compromise your ability to get restorative rest. Drinking in moderation is key, and indulging in your favorite adult beverages farther away from your bedtime is the best strategy.

Caffeinated drinks, while they may temporarily help you recover from a sleepless night the next morning, should not be a crutch that you can't live without. You should definitely limit your caffeine consumption to the morning hours only. Depending on your caffeine sensitivity levels, drinking an extra cup of coffee, a caffeinated soda, or an energy drink after 12:00 PM may still leave your brain running at a thousand miles an hour when you need to sleep.

Now, let's move onto the sleep-hostile foods. If you're having trouble sleeping at night, but you're also a fan of spicy food, you could be sabotaging yourself. Yes, we know the capsaicin in spicy foods and seasonings are good for your circulatory system - but spicy food is a terrible bedfellow when it comes to your nightly rest. The most obvious reason to avoid spicy foods, especially in the evening hours, is because the physical discomfort from heartburn and other gastrointestinal irritation is more likely to keep you awake. But some studies show that even if you have a stomach of steel, spicy food can still interfere with your ability to sleep deeply and soundly through the night. So it's best to keep the spice out of your dinner whenever possible.

Finally, too much processed food is the cornerstone of a poor sleep diet. Do the majority of your meals come out of a box, a bag, or a can? Is your microwave the most important appliance in your kitchen? Do you spend more time in the frozen food section than the produce section at your grocery store? Then you're probably not getting the nutrients you need to prime your body for sleep. Processed food is low in the micronutrients you need for quality sleep - such as magnesium, b vitamins, amino acids, fatty acids, and more - and high in things like sodium, processed sugar, trans fat, and refined carbohydrates. All of these substances interfere with healthy sleep hormone production. Even the seemingly innocent, allegedly nutritious pre-made meals sold by companies who want to help you lose weight (we're not going to name any names, but you know who were talking about) aren't nearly as healthful as they would have you believe.

Bad Sleep Diet

Poor Diet Habits Can Be Bad for Your Sleep, Too

Experts in human nutrition will tell you that it's not just about what you eat - it's about how and when you eat, too. Exercise is also an important part of a good sleep diet. If you're not getting enough of it, or you getting it at the wrong time of day, you will most likely have problems falling asleep at night. It may also make it difficult for you to get quality rest.

Many people who follow a western diet eat a small breakfast (or skip it completely), are inconsistent with their midday meal, and consume most of their calories at dinner. This is both the worst thing you can do for your sleep and your waistline. Eating most of your calories in the morning helps prevent you from gaining weight and gives you an energy boost to start your day the right way. Following breakfast with a moderate lunch and a small dinner sends an even stronger signal to your body to produce melatonin (the sleep hormone) once the sun goes down to get ready for rest.

Lastly, stop obsessing over calorie counts/points/gold stars or whatever other dietary metric you're using to lose weight (or maintain a healthy shape). You're missing the forest for the trees. If you focus on eating the nutritious foods that will improve your overall health and wellness, we promise that you won't exceed whatever random consumption-related number you are trying to restrict yourself to. Furthermore, the nutrients and fiber in healthy food won't just change your physiology for better sleep; it'll also improve organ function and metabolism for healthy weight management. More often than not, when people limit their calorie consumption, they don't get enough macro- or micronutrients necessary to stay healthy. This causes much bigger problems than being able to look good in your skinny jeans over the long run.

At the end of the day, this is just the tip of the iceberg. The difference between a healthy and unhealthy sleep diet is a lot more complicated than what we've talked about so far. But if you keep checking back for future blog posts, will be happy to give you more free advice on how to get better sleep!

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