Food Affects your Sleep

November 19, 2010

Chronic Pain – Insomnia

What You Eat Affects Your Sleep

At first pass it makes sense to think that what we eat could cause or aggravate sleep disorders or chronic insomnia, or at least affect our ability to fall asleep or affect our quality of sleep. However, what we eat goes beyond simply having too much caffeine in the day in the form of:

  • coffee
  • coke
  • tea
  • chocolate

The following are factors to consider that could be aggravating your attempts to get a good night’s rest.

  • Too Much Carbohydrate at Dinner
  • Insufficient Protein
  • Food Sensitivities and Allergies
  • Foods that Foster Dysbiosis

It’s all about blood sugar and its regulation. If you are moving toward the development of insulin resistance, have low blood sugar, or feel tired an hour or two after eating carbohydrates, then it’s highly likely that you are not breaking down and absorbing your sugars.

Before bed we need to have stable blood sugar to be able to rest because hunger will affect our ability to fall and stay asleep. If you find yourself plagued by nighttime hunger, especially before bed, take it as a sign that you either have developed some insulin resistance, aka Syndrome X. You are not eating enough protein for dinner and during the day and are eating too much carbohydrates for your body to break down and absorb. Make sure your evening meal has more protein and omit refined carbohydrates at dinner. During breakfast and lunch, if you feel fatigued within an hour or two after your meal you have eaten too much refined carbohydrates. Make a point of cutting back and pay attention to your energy after meals as a barometer. If after doing these things, you still get hungry before bed, take a protein snack, not a carbohydrate snack.

Food Sensitivities and Allergies Affect Sleep

Food sensitivities and food allergies can cause us to crave the very foods we have developed an allergy to. This is most common in certain foods such as:

  • gluten/gliadin foods: white flour, wheat flour, rye, oats
  • mineral salts: we will crave salt
  • lactose & whey protein in dairy
  • processed food
  • almost any food we have become sensitive to

Besides the craving for the food, our immune system will set up a cascade of inflammatory processes that can affect any part of the body. These symptoms, the result of inflammation, can affect sleep:

  • sinus congestion and mucous retention in the head, stuffy head
  • vasodilation of capillaries in the brain contributing to headache and migraine
  • elevation of adrenal gland cortisol at night, and reduced thyroid hormone (Free T3) from the development and increase in thyroid antibodies
  • increased inflammation in joints and tissue
  • increased inflammation of the digestive track causing acid reflux, irritable bowel, Chron’s, celiac sprue, gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea
  • alteration of neurotransmitter synthesis as a result of inflammation
  • irritation of any tissue in the body as a result of increased inflammation, such as skin for skin rashes, eruptions, itchy skin
  • cross reactions with hormones most commonly estrogens to cause hot flashes, worsening of PMS symptoms, bloating, irritability, menstrual pain and pelvic congestion.

Improving your digestion of food with the assistance of a broad spectrum digestive enzyme, healing leaky gut and getting de-sensitized from those foods that you have become immune sensitive to will stop the inflammatory process that fuels insomnia symptoms.

Children are especially sensitive to food allergens because of their developing nervous system. They can become hyperactive and have a hard time settling down within an hour or two after a meal. Putting them to bed a night can become a real chore when food sensitivities cause hyperactivity, alterations in their brain chemistry that affect mood, and attention and visual and auditory processing which lead to insomnia and sleep disorders in children.

Food sensitivities behind autism spectrum of disorders, ADD and ADHD also aggravate and cause sleep disorders in children. These children will have the by products of their digestion, in terms of what they are not able to digest well become an additional burden on their liver detoxification pathways. Many of these children already have immune aggravated genetic SNPs to their liver’s methylation pathway. This pathway also facilitates the coating of nerves and brain neurons. Therefore, anything that hinders liver detoxification or adds to its burden, will aggravate and irritate brain neurons. Increases in aggressive behavior and attention span changes can be seen within a couple of hours after eating an offending food. Chronic ingestion of immune sensitive foods will have a cascading effect upon developmental delay in these children.

Besides food, airborne allergies to dust mites, house dust, carpet and paint off gassing and cleaning solvents will provoke immune inflammation while you are trying to sleep at home. Use natural enzyme and plant based cleaners in the home. Air out your home weekly, vacuum and dust weekly and get de-sensitized for common household allergens. Immune Matrix employs a natural bio-energetic method of de-sensitization that is quickly effective and efficient, making years of shots or serial dilutions of homeopathic antigens unnecessary.

Food That Foster Dysbiosis Disturb Sleep

Dysbiosis is the overgrowth of pathogenic strains of bacteria, yeast and fungus in the digestive tract. Probiotics are the good flora that our digestive tract needs in the form of good bacteria and yeast. They help to make B12 in our body, and compromise part of our intestinal immunity.

When we have an overgrowth of a “bad” pathogen, our synthesis of B12 declines as a result. We then become more inefficient at detoxification, partly because B12 is essential to fuel the detoxification pathways of the liver among many other metabolic processes. These pathogenic strains embed themselves in the lining of our digestive tract and create microscopic holes, thus the name “leaky gut”. Undigested food passes out of our digestive tract through these microscopic holes caused by these foreign pathogens and into our blood stream to stimulate our immune system to recognize those foods it sees most often. This is a major way food sensitivities and allergies are created.

Typical symptoms at night that contribute to sleep disorders and chronic insomnia from intestinal dysbiosis are:

  • bloating
  • distension
  • water retention
  • gas, constipation
  • diarrhea
  • stagnant heavy feeling in the abdomen as if food is just sitting there
  • acid reflux and heart burn

There may even be some local pain or cramping or soreness over the intestines.

Foods that are high in molds and mycotoxins inoculate the digestive tract with pathogenic molds. Please see our other articles about mold. Those foods high in pathogenic molds that tend to establish a home in our digestive tract are:

  • grapes
  • cantaloupe
  • raisin
  • strawberry.Anyone with digestive issues is highly advised to avoid these foods indefinitely

Avoidance (such as following a Candida Diet) will not result in killing or eliminating the pathogenic strains of yeast and candida in the digestive track (leaky gut). It simply makes it harder for them to thrive and multiple and those that are strong will go into a dormant cyst stage and live there for years until you “fall off the wagon” and start eating carbohydrates again.  Doing a Microbiology Stool test (available online at from Doctor’s Data will tell you the type and amount of good probiotic flora you have, the type and amount of pathogenic bacteria and fungi and yeast also living in the digestive tract and what is best to kill them with based on a culture test. This test is very informative and the results can then be given to your health care provider to assist you in eliminating digestive causes to insomnia.

In summary, taking sleep meds or over the counter products for insomnia and sleep disorders can be a temporary fix. Many of these products, especially the prescription drugs alter our sleep cycle preventing us from entering deep sleep stages so necessary for cellular repair of our bodies. Becoming an investigator on your own behalf to seek out and eliminate all causes that contribute to your body’s imbalance and working with experienced medical health care practitioners will help to restore its balance and over time your chronic insomnia and sleep disturbances will be a thing of the past.

Stress Causes Insomnia

Please note:
Information on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

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Anna Manayan

Anna Manayan