Everybody knows that diet and exercise are the pillars of weight loss, but it’s not quite that simple. Sleep is just as important to keep a body healthy and functioning. Not getting enough sleep can interfere with a person’s ability to lose weight. At the same time, a poor diet can also affect sleep quality.

Bad Diets Keep You Awake

Without the right balance of vitamins and minerals, the body experiences oxidative stress, inflammation, and changes in blood sugar, all of which negatively impact a person’s energy levels. Eating poorly can also interfere with the hormones that help regulate sleep. All of this results in sleep deprivation, which causes people to make poor dietary choices. Eventually, it leads to a continuous cycle of eating poorly, sleeping poorly, and packing on the pounds.

To get ahead on your weight loss, it’s important to get a good night’s sleep. And to get a good night’s sleep, you must prioritize eating right. If you find it hard to fall asleep or often wake up feeling groggy, here are four changes you can make to your diet to improve your quality of sleep.

How to Eat for a Better Night’s Rest

1. Skip the Bedtime Snack

It can be harder to sleep when the body’s digesting food, so people should avoid eating right before bedtime. A carbohydrate or sugar-heavy snack in the evening can also interfere with sleep. If possible, don’t eat or drink anything five hours before bedtime for the best sleep quality, or limit post-dinner snacks to small servings of yogurt, fresh fruit, or cereal.

2. Avoid Sleep-Disrupting Foods

Certain foods and products can interfere with sleep by irritating the digestive system or affecting energy levels, especially when they’re consumed right before bed. Some of the foods to avoid eating before bed are:

  • Caffeine
  • Chocolate
  • Spicy Foods
  • Alcohol

3. Practice Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting has already been shown to help people lose weight. It can also improve a person’s quality of sleep. Eating scheduled meals in a small window establishes a circadian routine, which “trains” the body to fall asleep quickly, stay asleep, and wake up feeling refreshed. For more information on intermittent fasting, refer to this easy and informative guide.

4. Hydrate…Except Right Before Bed

Dehydration can interrupt our sleep by causing dry mouth and nasal passages, which affects breathing. The discomfort it causes can also prevent the body from resting. Adequate hydration has many advantages, including improved sleep, and most people can benefit from drinking more of it. Just remember to cut off beverages several hours before going to bed, since repeated bathroom trips can actually get in the way of sleep.

Make Your Meals Count

It’s no accident that a healthy diet improves sleep while keeping the weight off. Fatigue, irritability, bloating, and weight gain are all ways our bodies can tell us they’re in distress. Sleep affects diet just as diet affects sleep. It’s important to maintain the right balance of the two for a happy, healthy life.

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