Tossing And Turning: Runners And Sleeping Issues

Nutrition’s Effect On Sleep

In addition to not going to bed hungry, you should closely examine the quality of your  nutrition and the foods you’re eating throughout the day if you have trouble sleeping. What you’re eating and how it’s affecting your liver, gall bladder, and large intestine could be making it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep through the night.

The gall bladder, which is most active between the hours of 11 PM and 1 AM,  is responsible for digesting fats and is sensitive to caffeine. Therefore, eating too many bad fats or consuming caffeinated beverages can keep you awake during these hours, especially if you have existing gall bladder issues.

RELATED: Do they performance benefits of caffeine come at a cost?

Moreover, the liver becomes most active during the hours of 1 to 3 AM, which may cause many runners to awaken from their restful sleep if it’s stressed too heavily. The liver has to detoxify cortisol and estrogen and process medications, such as sleep medicines or anti-inflammatories.  Avoiding certain medications and spikes in cortisol is important if you want to stay asleep.

Finally, the large intestine is highly active from 5 to 7 AM, which can cause digestive issues from a food sensitivity, food allergy or harmful bacteria. One of the more common digestive issues for runners is gluten sensitivity, often caused by eating too many refined carbohydrates.

What you can do:

  • *Maintain a healthy diet that is absent of unhealthy fats and be acutely aware of any food sensitivities or allergies you may have.
  • *Know the side effects of your medications, including anti-inflammatories.
  • *Avoid drinking alcohol close to bedtime. While it may initially sedate you, alcohol keeps your brain in light sleep – you have trouble getting to the deep sleep and REM sleep phases and your sleep is less efficient.
  • *Avoid caffeinated drinks because they act as stimulants in the late afternoon and evening. Caffeine sources include some soft drinks, coffee, chocolate, non-herbal teas, some pain relievers and diet drugs. Caffeine can stay in your system up to 14 hours.

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