Simple Tips For Restful Sleep: How Your Eating Habits And Your Evening Routine Affect Your Sleep

Sleep is critical for health and wellness. But getting good sleep can be tricky when there are many factors that influence if you’re able to fall asleep quickly, and if you stay asleep all night.


In this post, I’m going to share simple tips and resources I’ve learned that help me get a more restful night’s sleep.


What Time You Eat Could Be Affecting Your Sleep


You’ve likely heard the old adage: Don’t eat after 7pm. (Or 6pm, or some arbitrary time on the clock.) Or perhaps you’ve heard this one: Don’t eat within 3 hours of bedtime.


Both of these old wives’ tales state that eating any closer to bedtime guarantees that whatever food you eat will be stored solely as body fat.


This is incorrect.


eating dinner earlier could disrupt your sleep


While metabolism is much more complicated than what I can post here, just know that your body is not determining what to store as body fat based on time of day or proximity to bedtime.


But if you adhere to these old wives’ tales, you may be making it harder on yourself to get good sleep.


Why Eating A Later Dinner Could Help


For most people, sleep is the longest period of the day that they go without eating. When you are fasting, you experience a natural blood sugar drop.


Ideally, your body regulates your blood sugar well throughout the day and night by creating slow rises and drops – NOT huge spikes and steep drop-offs which occur when you have poor blood sugar regulation.


However, more than 1 in 3 Americans have prediabetes, which means that most people do not have good blood sugar regulation.


This means that they have higher spikes in blood glucose after meals, they take longer to clear blood glucose from their bloodstream, and they become resistant to insulin – which is one of the hallmarks of type 2 diabetes.


And so, when their blood sugar drops, it does so more like a rollercoaster dropping down the first big hill, where it falls hard and fast, rather than as a slow and steady decline.


While you are asleep, your blood sugar will rise and fall naturally as part of your circadian rhythm. But when blood sugar falls too low, cortisol is released in your body to help raise blood sugar by releasing stored glucose.


Cortisol is what helps to wake you up in the morning. Having an increase in cortisol in the middle of the night can wake you up.

graphic of why your dinner hour could impact how restful your sleep is


Put this into practice by having dinner within 3 hours of bedtime and on days when that’s not possible, have a small snack before bed.


Ideally, your snack is made up of protein and fat, and if you choose a little bit of carbs, make them fibrous, not sugar-based.

Your Evening Routine Could Be Affecting Your Sleep


When it comes to winding down for bed, Netflix, phone scrolling, and alcohol are often part of the mix. Unfortunately, none of these are truly effective at helping you wind down.


‘Winding down’ involves a multitude of physiological processes that set your brain and body up to be ready to go to sleep.


scrolling phone in bed can make it harder to fall asleep


Of all the internal processes that occur to ready you for sleep, the one I never see highlighted enough is the necessary drop in core body temperature that helps you get to fall asleep and sty asleep.


As you prepare to fall asleep, heat is drawn away from your body’s core, allowing your body temperature to drop.


This lower temperature is critical for sleep onset and also leads to deeper sleep throughout the night.


Why A Warm Bath Or Foot Soak Could Help


The numbers of Americans struggling to fall asleep and stay asleep are rising every year. One study from Consumer Reports found 27% of respondents said they struggled with sleep most nights.


Many of those who struggle with sleep would likely tell you that their mind keeps going, or, their mind won’t let them fall asleep. And that may be true. However…


The body and mind are perpetually tethered. What’s going on in one is affecting the other and vice versa.


This is why helping your body to wind down can help your mind to wind down, too. 


One intentional action you can take to help your body wind down is by proactively warming your body, which in turn creates a steeper and more rapid decline in body temperature, and thus, increases the likelihood of sleep initiation.


Known as the ‘Warm Bath Effect’, immersion in hot water prior to, but not immediately before, the sleep period makes you fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply.


But don’t worry if you don’t have a bath tub, a foot soak can work, too.


graphic showing how a warm bath can help you get more restful sleep


Put this into practice by including a short bath or foot soak in your end-of-day routine. You can soak for as long as you like, but ten minutes is sufficient if you are too antsy to soak longer.


And for further relaxation of your muscles and your mind, add epsom salts, which contain magnesium that can help relieve achy muscles, to the bath or foot soak.


It’s understandably frustrating when you struggle with sleep. They key is to not to try so many things at once that you never actually know what is working.


And while there are an incredible amount of things you could try to help your sleep, it pays to pick just one or two things to try at any given time. So give these two simple tips a try and see if they help your sleep to become more restful.



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