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Has a Good Night’s Rest Been Laid to Bed

Sunday, September 07, 2008
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Good old scientific evidence indicates that teenagers who have poor eating habits breed poor sleep. These bad eating habits may be due to any of the following reasons: 
  • Lack of time
  • Too much effort to shed those extra pounds leading to your skipping breakfast 
  • Starving yourself
  • Eating too fast 
  • Eating along with other activities, e.g.While watching TV
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Binging on unhealthy foods.

Whatever the reason, the outcome is exhausting. Both the quantity and the type of food you chow down on, most times without a second's hesitation, play a critical role in influencing your zzz. 
While it is known that poor eating habits are partners of poor sleep, have you ever paused to think - it could be worse? Poor eating and poor sleeping tend to perpetuate each other, but here too there are two schools of thought regarding their relationship. One theory is of the opinion that an unbalanced or inadequate meal before going to bed leads to stress in the body, causing it to produce the `insulin' hormone. Insulin in turn causes your body to crave more food thus making you ravenous. 
How many teens in such circumstances, sit and prepare a healthy meal. They reach for convenience foods and not particularly healthy foods. The body very happily and efficiently converts and stores these extra calories as fat. This ultimately interferes with the quality and quantity of sleep that they get.
The other theory is that an improper sleep pattern leads to complete disarray in the levels of appetite hormones. With poor sleeping cycles, `gherlin' - the appetite signaling hormone - increases and `leptin' - the appetite-suppressing hormone - decreases. As a result the increase in the appetite hormone leads the individual to go on an eating binge. Additionally sleep deprived people exercise less, which makes it even more difficult to burn off those extra calories. Net result: the mindless weight gains.
A study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania supported that inadequate sleep leads to people opting for convenient junk food. Moreover, fat digestion delays the body's `bed time' signal, clearly indicating that its important not only to focus on the adequacy of the diet, but also on the type of meal taken before going to bed.

So what's your dinner looking like?
You should avoid high protein and fatty meals, as the body's system has to work harder trying to digest such a meal. It is always advisable to include a good combination of carbohydrates like rice, roti, breads, pasta, yogurt, milk with plenty of fruits and veggies.  Small quantities of lentil (dhal) and beans are advocated along with two
glasses of warm water.
Eating an early, light and balanced meal facilitates a good night's sleep and vice versa.

The cliché, early to bed, early to rise hits a sixer here. And. you get to be the wiser.

By Kanchan Saggi, Dietitian,




User Comments

28 April, 2011 | Shanmugam Pillai | Reply

Shanmugam Pillai I am a 35 yr old techie working between 8 am to 6 pm in the evening. The only time I get to exercise is between 7 pm to 8 pm. My dinner is around 9 pm and after that have to take calls with my US clients. I sleep by 12 in the mid night. From your article and the comments posted I understand that exercising close to bed time is not good, but in my case there is a gap of four hours and my sleep is not disturbed. Will this exercise have some benefit on my body or no?

02 May, 2011 | Poonam | Reply

Poonam Hello Mr Pillai,
You will certainly benefit from your evening exercises. Usually exercise causes an increase in stress hormones which may cause insomnia in some people. However if this is not a concern in your case, you need not worry about it.

27 April, 2011 | Vijayalakshmi Iyengar | Reply

Vijayalakshmi Iyengar Quoting from what I read on
A recent report from the Institute of Medicine entitled “Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem”, stated “There is a compelling unmet need for health care providers, health profession students and the general public to increase their knowledge concerning the importance of good quality sleep and sleep health.”
Good sleep helps us be healthy, think healthy and act healthy.

28 July, 2010 | Rita | Reply

Rita Does exercising close to bedtime interfere with sleep?

03 August, 2010 | Geetanjali Kelkar | Reply

Geetanjali Kelkar Dear Rita,
Exercise is a form of stress. Heavy or intense exercise accelerates body's metabolism. This rise in metabolism, also increase in body's temperature adds to the stress. It certainly has a negative effect on sleep.

03 August, 2010 | Sangeetha Narayana Swamy | Reply

Sangeetha Narayana Swamy Dear Rita,

Exercise heats up our body and lets it sweat, adrenaline and other stimulating hormones are released too. It takes about 2 -3 hours for the body to return to normal after an exercise regime. The requisites of sleep are completely opposite to that of how our body reacts after exercise. Therefore it makes a logical sense not to exercise close to bed time as it disrupts our sleep.

Although many studies show inconsistent data with this general opinion that exercise close to bed time disrupts sleep, it is always better to do the exercise regime at least 5 -6 hours before going to bed.

03 June, 2010 | Mohit | Reply

Mohit Hi,
Even I have observed this. Whenever I used to take heavy meal or very fatty food at dinnertime, it made me very lethargic. I didn’t feel like studying. Then I made an effort to change what I eat during dinner time and switched to more healthy meal. It really helped me.

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