Dieting Could Be The Reason You Can't Sleep At Night

One-third of Americans don't get enough sleep. While an occasional skip on your recommended seven to nine hours of sleep might have you grabbing an extra cup of coffee, chronic insomnia or sleep deprivation can dampen your brain's decision-making capacity. This might make you more prone to late-night snacking and giving in to craving unhealthy foods that can lead to weight gain. A lack of sleep can boost cortisol levels, which can lead to your body holding onto fat (via WebMD).

Yet dieting can also interfere with your sleep. When you restrict your calories during the day, you might be more tempted to reach for food later at night, which can cause disruptions in your sleep, per CNN. Similarly, eating your last meal of the day much earlier might leave you hungry at bedtime and can make it difficult to sleep, according to Health Central. Dieting also affects your hormone levels which can also point to your problems sleeping at night.

How dieting disrupts sleep

Dieting sometimes requires knowing the right balance between hunger and a full stomach. Any discomfort you feel before bed could affect your sleep. Eating too much will make it difficult to sleep, but eating too little can also cause you to wake up hungry and keep you awake. If you've been dieting for a while, it might be hard to discern hunger (via Sleepopolis).

What you eat during your diet can affect your sleep. Diets high in carbs can cause sleep disturbances and reduce the REM cycle of your sleep, and foods rich in nutrients such as B vitamins and zinc might help you sleep better.

A severe restriction in your daily calories can cause the stress hormone cortisol to rise well before your alarm is set to go off. That could mean waking up at 4 a.m. Cortisol isn't the only hormone that's affected by dieting. When you don't get enough food to sustain you, your body could produce more insulin, which can interfere with sleep. If your sleep is disrupted, the hunger and satiety hormones get out of balance, increasing your appetite for foods that can sabotage your diet. Restricting your calories too much while you're dieting can also reduce how much melatonin your body produces.

How to get better sleep while dieting

If you're dieting and having trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, it might help to have a snack before bed including certain nutrients such as tryptophan, magnesium, zinc, folate, and B vitamins. Snacks like yogurt with cherries, bananas with almond butter, and low-sugar cereal could help support your sleep while dieting.

Diets that have you drinking nutrition shakes for breakfast and lunch and eating a substantial dinner might also disrupt your digestive system and your sleep. It's best to eat light meals balanced through the day rather than load certain meals earlier or later in the day. Drinking more water is a good thing while you're dieting, but drinking too much before bedtime will have you getting up several times throughout the night. To maintain your hydration needs without the late-night bathroom trips, drink most of your water earlier in the day rather than later (via Health Central).

Even if you aren't dieting, take a close look at your caffeine intake from soft drinks, tea, coffee, and chocolate. Consuming caffeine within six hours of bedtime can make it more difficult for you to get to sleep. Alcohol can interfere with your deep sleep and duration of sleep, so skip the nightcap.