These mistakes made at dinner ruin sleep

Before turning to sleep pills to sleep better, let’s first take stock of our eating habits. Indeed, restful sleep is the result of a healthy lifestyle, both physical and psychic. The nutritionist Laurence Plumley, the author of the great Book of Food (1), and the dietician nutritionist Laëtitia Willerval (2) list the mistakes made at dinner, and which ruin sleep.

Dinner too heavy

Laborious digestion is the first thing to avoid, and this is for a simple reason: “By requiring more effort and energy from the body, it disrupts sleep,” explains nutritionist Laurence Plumley. It is, therefore, better to avoid fatty, heavy, and sweet foods. “Cooked animal fats, proteins in large quantities or raw vegetables are particularly difficult to digest,” says dietician nutritionist Laëtitia Willerval.

三代快樂的亞洲家庭慶祝中國農曆新年,祖父母在團圓晚宴上供應傳統的中國龐子 - dinner 個照片及圖片檔

Going to bed right after eating

Dinner on English time, the secret to good sleep? Perhaps. Before sleeping, it is necessary to give the body time to begin its digestion. Dr. Plumey explains: “Lying down promotes gastric reflux and burning sensations. It is therefore not ideal for digesting.” You should know that the process also depends on what you eat. “A sardine in oil can take more than 72 hours to assimilate, while a fruit juice takes only a few minutes,” says the dietician. In general, the professional advises to always wait at least three hours after the end of dinner before going to bed.

A dinner too light

Not overeating and going about it early enough does not mean not swallowing anything. It should be remembered that during the night, the body spends about eight hours without energy intake. However, even when asleep, it needs the energy to function. “In the evening, some deprive themselves of a sufficient meal in the hope of losing weight. The body then enters hypoglycemia during sleep, which promotes awakenings, “says Laurence Plumley. During these nocturnal “cravings”, we will wake up and then move more willingly towards fatty products, too sweet and/or salty, easily at hand.

一群快樂的亞洲年輕女子在聚會時玩得開心,用紅酒敬酒 - dinner 個照片及圖片檔

Eating poorly during the day

The nutritionist doctor notes that those who eat poorly during the day, often take revenge on the evening meal and then enter a vicious circle: “In the evening, we throw ourselves on the food. Therefore, we are not hungry at breakfast, sometimes even at lunch and we start again at dinner time.” Not neglecting any meal and being regular makes it possible not to fall into this infernal spiral. “Sleeping well at night is the result of a well-balanced day,” summarizes Laurence Plumley.

Drinking before sleeping

When you can not hydrate regularly during the day(lack of time, forgetfulness, etc.), it happens that you drink a lot at dinner. However, awakenings caused by our small nocturnal needs disrupt sleep. To overcome this, Laurence Plumey advises “to stop drinking two hours before going to bed in order to have time to empty your bladder”. As with meals, the secret is to think about hydrating on a regular basis.

What about alcohol? “In small quantities, it helps produce melatonin,” says Laëtitia Willerval. A glass of wine in the evening is therefore not to be avoided. On the other hand, in larger quantities, it is strongly discouraged if you want to spend a good night. “The liver will need to detoxify, which tires the body,” says the dietician.

toasting couple - dinner 個照片及圖片檔

Take stimulants

Exit the traditional café that closes the dinner. A linden or chamomile herbal tea is a much better ways to conclude the meal. “Foods that increase heart rates, such as mint or ginger, are also bad for sleep,” adds the dietician. On the other hand, the two experts agree that the idea that fruits, by their concentration of vitamin C, are exciting and therefore bad for sleep, is false. They can be consumed at any time of the day.

What to eat to sleep well?

If there are foods to be avoided to protect sleep, others are to be preferred. “Products rich in vitamin B– such as whole grains, oilseeds, and dairy products – and rich in zinc – seafood, fish and meat – promote the synthesis of melatonin, the sleep hormone,” says Laëtitia Willerval. Meat, more difficult to digest, is however to be consumed in moderation (no more than 100g).

The two experts thus draw the portrait of the exemplary plate: the first quarter consists of starchy foods (cereals, legumes, potatoes …). Laëtitia Willerval recalls that “it is a common idea to say that they are to be avoided in the evening. They are important, provided you take care of their quantity and glycemic index.” So prefer a serving of whole-grain to a serving of French fries. Another quarter is made up of protein, and for the last half, cooked vegetables are chosen, which are easier to digest than raw vegetables. “With this, we can take a dairy rather than cheese, and/or a fruit, rather than a very sweet dessert,” concludes Laurence Plumley.

Thiết Lập Bảng, Lễ Kỷ Niệm, Tiệc, Bữa Ăn

(1) Le grand livre de l’alimentation, Laurence Plumey, (Éd. Eyrolles), 2014, €13.90.

(2) To learn more about dietician nutritionist Laëtitia Willerval:

*Originally published in February 2017, this article has been updated.

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