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Can Your Eating Habits Prevent You from Sleeping?

Posted On April 28, 2014
eating habits
April 28, 2014

There’s a very well-known adage saying that “you are what you eat.” If you eat lots of fruits and vegetables, make whole grains a stable of your diet and avoid saturated fats, nine times out of 10 you will be healthy and well. Your mood is upbeat. You have energy and the desire to exercise. And you sleep soundly each and every night. But what happens if you eat red meat, lather butter on white bread and gorge yourself with food fried in lard? What then? Are you moody, lethargic, a couch potato and plagued with insomnia?  Is it possible: can your eating habits prevent you from sleeping, or vice versa?

Eating a heavy protein-filled meal with spicy overtones, downing an alcoholic drink or two and rounding out with a mocha-filled pastry should sound an alarm in your body. Partaking of one aspect or all can ensure that you are up pacing the carpet during the night with the inability to sleep. There are definitely ways in which you can change eating habits and be able to get a better night of sleep.

On the flip side, lack of sleep can wreak havoc on many aspects of your life, including affecting what you eat. When a person is sleep deprived, there is a substance called leptin that starts to take a nosedive. Leptin is produced by the body and makes you feel as though your belly is full. Another substance that is affected by lack of sleep is ghrelin, which increases as a result. Ghrelin works to signal the brain that you are hungry. Hence, and unfortunately, sleep deprivation makes you not feel full when you eat, and you crave and are hungry for food to boot.

Add to the mix the following that also occurs when you do not get a good night of sleep. Your brain starts to make poor choices and inhibitions are lifted. As a result, you reach for a Twinkie instead of a ripe apple (and probably can’t put on the brakes to stop just there).

Is There a Magic Diet Answer?

A study published in the European Respiratory Journal found that the Mediterranean diet could help improve sleep, especially for individuals who suffer from sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition whereby the sufferer experiences pauses in his or her breathing throughout the night due to an obstruction in the airway.

The Mediterranean diet puts a strong emphasis on consuming fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fat, like olive oil. The diet also follows the Food Guide Pyramid and instead of flavoring with salt, the plan stresses the use of herbs.

With this study, researchers divided participants with sleep apnea into two groups with one following the Mediterranean diet and the other a different plan. All test subjects used continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) for treatment of their sleep apnea. The results showed that the group following the Mediterranean diet had better quality sleep during the rapid eye movement (REM) stage with fewer breathing disturbances. As an added bonus, this group also had a greater decrease in abdominal fat.

If you have trouble sleeping or think you have sleep apnea, please contact one of our medical concierges today at 1-855-863-4537 to schedule a free consultation.

About Phoebe Ochman

Phoebe Ochman, Director of Communications for Sleep Apnea Treatment Centers of America, manages all content and communications for the company.
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