This is no fake news: fast food & a good night’s sleep don’t mix
Do you ever find yourself having trouble falling asleep at night and wondering why? Did you stop to consider what food you’ve eaten that day? If you indulge in a double espresso or greasy burger with a side of fries an hour before bed, your inability to sleep might be obvious. But the connection between your turkey bacon wrap at lunch and your nighttime sleep is a little less straightforward.
The simple truth is that everything you eat during the day can affect how well you sleep at night. The nutrients in food form building blocks for minerals and proteins, which help form amino acids needed for sleep. “Data shows that eating less fiber, more saturated fat and more sugar throughout the day is linked with lighter, less restorative sleep,” Ana Krieger, MD, MPH, Medical Director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at New York Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine, told NBC News.
Research has shown that poor sleep has been linked to eating more overall – along with higher rates of obesity. And it’s important to note that what you eat as well as timing of when you eat matters when it comes to your overall health. While fast food is convenient – and let’s be honest, somewhat addictive – it does nothing to help ensure we live long, healthy lives.
How fast food affects the quality & quantity of your sleep
Your best bet when it comes to a good night’s sleep? Eat right, which means paying close attention reducing fat and processed sugars – while getting the fiber and protein your body needs. Need a few additional reasons to avoid late-night fast food runs?
- Heartburn. Traditional fast food is processed and greasy, which can trigger heartburn, a backflow of food particles and acid from the stomach into the esophagus. Say hello to a very uncomfortable – and likely sleepless – night.
- Obesity. A study published in Obesity Surgery examined the behaviors of 270 obese patients and compared them to the patients’ body mass index. The results indicated that fast food consumption had the largest impact on obesity levels. People who are obese generally suffer from other health complications such as Heart Disease, Type-2 Diabetes and Sleep Apnea – all of which also affect sleep quality.
- Depression. In a study published in Public Health Nutrition Journal, researchers found that eating commercially baked goods and fast food may be linked to depression. People who eat fast food are 51% more likely to develop depression than those who eat little to no fast food. It also found that the more fast food they consumed, the more likely they were to develop depression. And remember, depression can affect your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Sleep friendly fast food options
Believe it or not, there are fast food options that aren’t all that bad for you. Many fast food restaurants offer healthier options – you just have to know what they are and to ask for them. We’ve made you a cheat sheet of things you can do to tweak your order and make it healthier and more sleep friendly. Delish, right?
- Whole grains. If the restaurant offers a whole grain bun option, ask for that. Whole grains will keep you fuller, longer and help increase your serotonin levels, making it easier to sleep – definitely more bang for your buck!
- Avocado. If you’re some place that offers avocado, substitute that for mayonnaise. Avocado is not only tasty but nutrient-rich and less fatty than mayo. Hello good night’s sleep.
- Grilled, not fried. If there’s a grilled option, choose that over the fried version. Less grease, less calories, less chance of an upset stomach.
- Side salad. We get it. You want the fries but then there’s a side salad on the menu making you feel guilty for passing it over. Treat yourself once in a while to the fries but choose the salad more often. Your waistline and sleep with thank you.
- Pass the cheese. Burgers are always better with cheese – no arguments here. But amp up the condiments and you won’t miss it. Slap on some tomato, lettuce and onion and you’re the boss.
- Mild, not hot. If you’re ordering something with a kick to it, make sure it’s a small one – especially if it’s an evening order. Spicy foods can cause indigestion and heartburn, which can be downright uncomfortable.
- Egg whites. When talking about breakfast on the go, choose an egg white wrap with veggies over a cheesy bacon croissant. Still yummy and a great way to start your day.
By making these few simple changes to your meal when ordering, not only are you cutting calories but you’re improving your ability to fall and stay a sleep. Can’t get a better combo than that, right?
Rest well & wake up ready to go!
Better sleep gives rise to better mornings, bringing your goals into focus and dreams within reach. Hungry for more sleep info? Dig into these posts:
- 10 worst foods to eat in bed
- Smoothie recipes that promote healthy sleep
- 8 healthy breakfast recipes that aren’t smoothies