Challenge to Change: Eat, drink sleep

By Bobby DeMuro

Published On: Jan 13 2012 02:24:49 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 17 2012 03:14:52 PM EST

Now that we've been covering sleep medicine and examining what action you need to take to sleep better (while being challenged to sleep at least 7 hours every night!), it's time to look at what else in your life affects your sleep schedule. 

I mentioned last week that nothing in health exists in a vacuum - one aspect of your health invariably affects, to different degrees, all other aspects of your well-being. Sleep health is no different, and the other things you do - namely, your eating schedule - can have a big effect on your sleep patterns. 

First, eat light in the evenings. It is best to avoid heavy foods (like, say, spaghetti and meatballs) and sugar - both can cause indigestion and heartburn, and make it difficult to settle down at night time for bed. When you're eating, regardless of the focus on sleep afterwards, concentrate on eating healthy, balanced meals at regular times daily. If you feel like you do need one bigger meal, make it breakfast, and start your morning off with calories to push you through the day. 

Furthermore (and it goes without saying for readers with small children at home), avoid liquids late at night and right before bed. Water's great to drink during the day, but even with the bed-wetting concern aside, too much water can keep you awake and alert late at night when you should be shutting down for the day and finding that restful sleep. 

While there's no magic time to cut off the food and drink at night, it's probably wise to generally shoot for a few hours before your bed time; if you typically go to sleep at 10 pm, stop eating and drinking at 7:30 or 8 pm in order to give your body time to slowly relax and prepare for sleep. A side benefit of that schedule is you will most likely always wake up somewhat hungry - making it easier to eat that all-important breakfast in the morning. 

Finally, it goes without saying, but it's important to avoid stimulants. Both caffeine and nicotine keep the body working and are not advisable to consume near bed time; even alcohol can cause frequent awakening during the night, and can harm a normal and restful sleep pattern.

Wondering about specific foods that may or may not be advisable when taking into account your sleep pattern? The National Sleep Foundation has a great list of foods that can affect sleep. 

In the meantime, keep sleeping! Maybe not at work, or school, but at least seven hours every night - make it a priority in your daily routine and watch yourself focus better, lose more weight, carry a better attitude through the day, and have more energy over time!

About the author:Bobby DeMuro is the Founder of No Fizz America, a non-profit dedicated to health and fitness. He is also the founder FusionSouth, a sports conditioning firm. You can follow him on Twitter and Facebook .

You can listen to Bobby on his weekly radio show on Radio Exiles.