Wellness: Eating for Everyday Health (cont.)

But Roth says foods and drinks containing alcohol or caffeine are known to affect the quality of sleep a person gets. Many people may not realize how much caffeine they get during the course of a day because they only consider coffee or tea as sources, but soft drinks and chocolate also contain significant amounts of caffeine.

Alcohol is often thought of as a sedative, but although it may help people fall asleep faster, the quality of sleep suffers as the number of sleep disturbances increases with alcohol use.

Researchers say food and sleep are also linked in another way -- eating too much of any food or eating too late can make it harder to fall or stay asleep.

"I know from personal experience that if I eat too late, I can't sleep," says dietitian Mercer. "Many people who aren't used to eating after eight o'clock may find it difficult because they're too full to sleep."

Going to bed on a full stomach can also cause gastrointestinal discomfort, and propping yourself on several pillows may be necessary to let gravity help food make its way down to where it needs to go.

October 28, 2003.

SOURCES: Seymour Diamond, MD, director, Diamond Headache Clinic, Chicago; executive chairman, National Headache Foundation. Thomas Roth, PhD, director of research and chief of sleep medicine, Henry Ford Hospital Sleep Disorders and Research Center, Detroit. Doris J. Day, MD, assistant professor of medicine, New York University; spokeswoman, American Academy of Dermatology. Nelda Mercer, RD, spokeswoman, American Dietetic Association. National Headache Foundation. National Sleep Foundation.

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Last Editorial Review: 10/28/2003