Everybody has been in a situation like this before: It's the night before a big meeting or game and you want to do everything you can to prepare the right way. Maybe this involves a filling dinner and a relaxing night at home, but when you put your head to the pillow, you find that you can't get a wink of sleep before your big day no matter how hard you try.
Is it nerves that keep you up, or is something else going on that won't let you drift off to sleep? While you may focus on your nutritional needs in the morning, how you fuel your body in the evening is actually just as important if you want to establish a regular and satisfying sleep schedule. Everyone loves their favorite calorie-laden homecooked meals every once in a while, but you might want to save those occasions for when you don't need a full night's rest.
Cell health and hormones
When you eat a hearty breakfast in the morning, your body responds in more ways than just digesting and converting the food into energy. In response to sudden influxes of beneficial phytonutrients that improve cell health and harmful artificial compounds, your body also releases hormones to regulate blood sugar levels.
When you eat a large meal, your body releases a large amount of cortisol, a hormone that helps cells absorbs nutrients faster. However, after you finish a big dinner in preparation for your big day, the cortisol in your system lingers for up to five hours. When you try to go to bed, your body can't pass into the critical rapid eye movement stage of restful sleep. Without this REM stage, you'll wake up feeling tired and sluggish no matter how long you slept.
Alyssa Cellini, New Jersey-based nutritionist, told The Daily Meal that unstable cortisol levels are one of the main culprits of poor sleep cycles.
"Sleep quality is highly affected by your circadian rhythm, so offsetting your insulin/cortisol in the night may cause you to toss and turn – or even hit snooze on your alarm in the morning," Cellini said. "Diabetes is caused by high blood sugar swings and especially high insulin levels in the blood. So, pasta for lunch or two cookies near bed may have very different calories, but both elevate your insulin to the same point in your blood – overwhelming your cells and getting you one step closer to diabetes."
While cutting out snacking before bed can help you achieve more restful sleep, you still might want to revisit just what it is you're eating for dinner that could be sabotaging your precious beauty rest, too.
"You need to nutritionally prepare your body's cells for a full night of rest."
You are what you eat
So if a large meal five hours within bed time can disrupt your normal cortisol levels, what should you try to eat for dinner that sets your body up for a restful night? While you might have the best of intentions for you and your family, the list of nutrients you'd have to cram into nightly meals is too big for even professional chefs.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are more than 13 nutrients and compounds you'd have to fit into your ingredients for a meal complete with sleep-beneficial products. However, searching for sources of dodecanoic acid, choline, theobromine and phosphorus can be exhausting enough to tire out even the most dedicated go-getters.
If you work in an industry with frequent high-pressure events like sales or marketing, or you just need to wake up energized and alert most days, you need a quick and easy way to nutritionally prepare your body's cells for a full night of rest. Fortunately, cell health supplements are specially formulated to provide your body with what it needs morning, noon and night. Cycles of activity and rest are normal from every level of your biological functions, and easing yourself into a night of sleep starts with waking up ready to go the morning before.