Having Trouble Sleeping? The Solution May Be On Your Plate

by / / Tips

Does it seem like no matter how early you get to sleep, which kind of mattress you have, or what patterns you follow, you still can’t get quality sleep?

scary food options on a plate

Your trouble may be coming from someplace many people don’t think about, your diet. Yes, foods can actually stop you from sleeping soundly.

Find out how different food choices may be the solution to your sleeping woes.

A Balanced Cortisol Rhythm Promotes Sleep

One of the largest determining factors in how well you are going to sleep is your cortisol rhythm.

Cortisol is a hormone that the body produces through the adrenal glands. This hormone is the leader when it comes to a plethora of body functions.

Stress and your fight or flight response are the result of cortisol. Anytime there is a stressful situation, like at work, in relationships, through diet, or from exercise, there is a spike in cortisol to give you the energy and focus you need to respond.

So, how does cortisol affect your sleep? You probably already guessed it’s not helpful in falling asleep.

Normally, the cortisol production should be high during the day and low at night. If the rhythm stays high, REM will disturbed, resulting in a resting period that isn’t refreshing.

How Diet Influences Cortisol

What you eat is going to influence your cortisol levels for five hours. That reaction can be good or bad for sleep, depending on where the food you are eating is on the glycemic index. Anything on the high end which includes foods that are high in sugar and low in fiber, are going to spike your cortisol.

Even worse than eating high glycemic index foods, is not eating at all. Have you ever felt grumpy when you haven’t eaten? Part of that is because if you wait five or more hours in between eating, your cortisol level will rise.

So what can you do to ensure cortisol is low when hitting the sack?

Foods to Avoid

Keep a food diary to see what you are eating and how you sleep afterwards. The following are foods you should definitely avoid in the afternoon or evening.

Junk Food

Avoid foods that contain high fat and high sugar such as cheeseburgers, candy, cookies, and other fast food. These are going to kick your cortisol levels up as your body tries to rebalance. If you are not regulated by bed time, you aren’t going to sleep well.


One cup of coffee can increase your cortisol by up to 30%. This level can stay up for as long as 18 hours. If you are going to drink caffeinated beverages, stick with first thing in the morning.


Alcoholic beverages increase blood sugar levels and spike cortisol. Drinking in the evening hours can make for a very restless sleep while your body tries to regulate. Mimosas and brunch, anyone?

Simple Carbohydrates

Eating a lot of simple carbs also increases blood sugar and sends your body into overdrive trying to normalize. Keep blood sugar stable by opting for more complex carbs like whole grains.

Helpful Foods

Certain foods are going to help in keeping your cortisol levels in a range that will not affect your nighttime rest. Feel free to eat these without concern.

Lean Protein – White meat without the skin, flank steak, eye of round, rump roast, center loin pork, Canadian bacon.

Healthy Fats – Avocados, coconut oil, butter, omega 3s, extra virgin olive oil.

Complex Carbs – Vegetables, whole grains, beans.

Herbs – Passionflower, California poppy, lavender, magnolia bark.

Leafy Greens – Kale, collard greens, spinach, red and green leaf lettuce, Romaine lettuce.

Had you considered that diet may be part of your sleeping problem?

Many don’t and suffer endlessly when a few simple changes can solve the problem. If you are ready to get to the bottom of tossing & turning, an expert on diet and sleep like our nutritionists at Sleep Rite can help.

Additionally, our expert sleep consultants can assist you in becoming more knowledgeable about your sleeping issues and how to fix them.

Contact us today to get the sleep you need!

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