Can Food Affect Your Sleep?

March 30, 2022

By Anna Varriano

I recently read an article entitled “Nutrition and Sleep: The Best and Worst Foods for Quality Rest” (1). The article lists several common nutrition-related Do’s and Don’ts for better sleep including:


  1. Eat a balanced dinner e.g. a combo of healthy proteins, high-fibre carbs and veggies 
  2. Eat foods that promote serotonin production such as animal-based foods, oats, nuts, and seeds
  3. Eat around 3 hours before bedtime


  1. Avoid caffeine, sugary drinks, and alcohol before bed
  2. Don’t eat dessert close to bedtime
  3. Don’t overdo late-night indulgences

These are all good suggestions and there’s no doubt that what and when we eat (and drink!) can affect our sleep. Unfortunately, many people’s typical eating and drinking habits have a negative effect on their sleep and overall health – and these two are closely related.

The Importance of Sleep

Getting proper sleep (hours of sleep and the right amount of sleep in the various stages of sleep, i.e. REM and non-REM) is a key factor to our overall physical and mental health. It’s also interesting to note that when we don’t get proper sleep, we often reach for sugar-and-caffeine laden foods and drinks during our waking hours to give us an ‘energy boost’ … but what quickly goes up, also quickly crashes down, setting the stage for more sugar and/or caffeine cravings and a roller coaster of energy throughout the day.

Recently, a study was released suggesting that falling asleep between 10pm and 11pm is critical for overall health, in particular cardiovascular health. Check out this excerpt from the study (2):

Compared to sleep onset from 10:00 to 10:59 pm, there was a 25% higher risk of cardiovascular disease with a sleep onset at midnight or later, a 12% greater risk for 11:00 to 11:59 pm, and a 24% raised risk for falling asleep before 10:00 pm. In a further analysis by sex, the association with increased cardiovascular risk was stronger in women, with only sleep onset before 10:00 pm remaining significant for men.

Dr. Plans said: “Our study indicates that the optimum time to go to sleep is at a specific point in the body’s 24-hour cycle and deviations may be detrimental to health. The riskiest time was after midnight, potentially because it may reduce the likelihood of seeing morning light, which resets the body clock.”

It was interesting for me to see a study stating this as it is one of the first things I learned when I started my nutrition studies almost 20 years ago. I recall being told that it was likely linked to the fact that we can have a second surge of cortisol (our stress/alert hormone) after 11pm, making it difficult to fall asleep or have a restful sleep.

Beyond the ‘Do’s and Don’ts’

Unfortunately, it’s still possible to have sleep issues even if you are following the nutrition-related do’s and don’ts for better sleep as there are so many other factors at play, for example, stress, shift-work, hormonal imbalances, sleep apnea, not getting enough daily exercise, not getting enough daily fresh air, and not getting enough natural sunlight exposure, which is especially important early on in the day to reset our body’s internal clock. Hmmmm … sounds like going for an early morning walk/bike ride on a trail would take care of the last 3 items!

It seems that just about everyone has sleep issues at some point in their lives, and if following the above tips doesn’t help (along with those listed in a blog I wrote on sleep tips over 10 years ago … wow … time flies!),  there are numerous supplements that can help with sleep; however, finding the one that works best for you is often a process of trial and error.

Here are a few that I am familiar with and that work for many of my clients:

This product contains hydrolyzed casein and may be helpful for sleep issues associated with chronic mild stress.
This product contains valerian, hops, and passionflower – 3 herbs that are often cited to help with nervousness, irritability, and insomnia.
This organotherapy and homeopathic preparation comes in a spray (sublingual) format and contains Avena sativa, Chamomilla, Helleborus niger, Ignatia amara, Melissa officinalis, Phosphorus, pineal gland, Pulsatilla, and Valeriana officinalis (all 30K) in a base of 20% alcohol and 80% water.
This product contains magnesium bis-glycinate, GABA, and melatonin in a formulation designed to help people relax, reset their circadian biological clocks, and get better sleep.

All of the above are available through Perfect Resonance Natural Health Counselling. Simply email for more information or to request an order. Please check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any sleep supplements, especially if you are on any medications related to the treatment of sleep issues, anxiety, and/or depression, or any other psychiatric or psychotropic medication.

Take control of what you can!




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