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Maintenance – How are you sleeping?

“By far, the factor that most affects one’s sleep is food.”  Harvey Diamond, Living Health

I love my sleep.  I have always been one of those girls that “needed her sleep”.  Even in college, when “life”
usually starts around 10:00 p.m. I was always the one that seemed more affected by the late nights than my roommates.

Today it is no different, and I am practically disfunctional past 9:30 pm (which might have something to do with my
5:30 am wake-ups).

For the most part I am an excellent sleeper.  Weather it’s a warm bed, or pretty much any moving vehicle, I can generallyfall asleep anywhere. I sleep through the night and rise refreshed in the morning.

Well something interesting happened to me last week.  My husband, kids and I piled into the car and headed north to spend a week visiting my family in Canada.  We crammed into my parents house with most of my other siblings and their families. My husband and I got the den with the pull-out couch.  Although it was surprisingly comfortable, I found myself waking up numerous times each night.  I would get up, go to the bathroom, and then go back to bed.  Luckily I was able to fall back
asleep.  This happened frequently each night and continued throughout our stay.

It was until our drive home that I started to think about this.  I was actually thinking about all the crap I had eaten
while on vacation and was excited to get home and do a small cleanse.  The late-night cards we played each night meant a lot of late night snacking.  The beach days, water slides, and boating contributed even more to all the snacking.  And I’m not talking the fruit and vegetable kind of snacking! Overall I was not eating the whole food way that I preferred to.

It was then that it dawned on me that it was MY EATING that was waking me up at nights (and a little stress that goes hand in hand with most peoples family get togethers)!

My first day home I decided to do a juice cleanse.  Nothing but freshly juiced vegetables and fruits for the entire day.  And how did i sleep that night?  Completely peaceful and uninterrupted!  Voila! Proof that what I eat affects how I sleep.

According to Harvey Diamond, “Nothing can disturb sleep more than eating at bedtime.  The primary reason for sleep is to regenerate nerve energy.  Eating before sleeping redirects much of the energy to the digestion of the food.  Since the brain is involved in digestion, less sleep will result.”  Hmmm, so maybe all that late-night popcorn had something to do with my restlessness!

Brendan Brazier also addressed our sleep in his book THRIVE.  He talks about nutritional stress which is basically stress created by food because of its unhealthy properties.  This nutritional stress has serious impact on our bodies – one of those being sleep interruption. Cortisol is a hormone that is released in our bodies by stress (including nutritional stress). High cortisol levels are linked to sleep interuption. To make matters worse, cortisol levels are increased when we don’t get enough sleep.  It becomes a vicious cycle.

50 million Americans claim that they don’t “sleep well” (which I am sure is somewhat thrilling to the pharmaceutical industry). Studies have shown that improved diet as well as stress management can significantly impact a good night’s sleep!

Sleep is so vital to our overall well-being.  What happens during our nights is just as important as what happens during our days.  So next time your slumber is not so sweet, stop and take a look at the food you’ve been eating.  Chances are you could benefit from some whole food plant-based goodness!

Source: WFM 1-10

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