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What you eat, your habits and an irregular schedule, can significantly contribute to sleep disruptions. The most damaging weapon is caffeine and its compounds such as theobromine (found in chocolate). 

These ingredients directly interfere with your sleep, due to their stimulant effects on the central nervous system (CNS).

Another ingredient commonly abused, alcohol, initially depresses the CNS and causes drowsiness, but eventually leads to significant disruptions of sleep and sleep quality.

The size and timing of your meals is another factor. Large meals eaten shortly before bedtime makes the abdomen expand, pressing the diaphragm, restricting breathing and resulting in discomfort. 

Going to bed hungry, with an empty stomach, can cause hunger, triggering low blood sugar and stomach discomfort. Both over and under-eating can prevent sleep.

Sleep hygiene: Diet and eating habits must be carefully evaluated in terms of sleep problems. Bad foods must be completely eliminated from the diet, regardless of the time of day when they are consumed. 

Even extremely small residues of chemicals will have significant biochemical effects on sleep for several hours, or even days later.

Eating a small snack shortly before bedtime helps to release endorphins and neurotransmitters, creating a feeling of wellbeing and facilitating sleep.

The digestive process also contributes, through a phenomenon known as alkaline tide, which is marked by a slight increase in blood pH after eating. This chemical change seems to trigger sleepiness, facilitating sleep and promoting the transition to a prolonged sleep time.

Some foods naturally rich in the amino acid tryptophan (turkey, butter nuts, figs, rice, tuna and bananas) are more likely to induce sleep when consumed shortly before bedtime. Foods rich in magnesium and B complex can increase sleep duration.

Other foods rich in the amino acid tyramine (spinach, potatoes, tomatoes and soft cheeses) delays the sleep cycle.

To sleep shortly after lunch (a traditional practice), not only helps improve the brain functions, energy, mood and productivity, but it also helps regulate the sleep-wake cycles, leading to improved sleep patterns at night. This nap should be short, no more than 20 minutes.

Americans and many other modern societies seem to experience an increase in gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). If you want to sleep or to rest after a light meal, this does not cause GERD, but the recommendation to avoid sleep after eating does not prevent GERD.

If GERD is present, then it must be addressed specifically with the correct techniques. Once this is achieved through non-pharmacological means, you can have small naps and snacks before sleep without any harm.

Those prone to GERD should avoid overeating and follow the essential steps to strengthen the inside of the esophageal sphincter, in order to actively resolve the condition.

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