April 03, 2023 4 min read

Spring is finally upon us, which means many of us are looking forward to the long Easter weekend ahead. Besides being an opportunity to celebrate rebirth and renewal, catch up with loved ones, and enjoy a bit of egg hunting, Easter is a reason to indulge in food more than usual. 


The problem with overindulgence, however, is that it can leave you with indigestion, heartburn,  and other uncomfortable side effects, which can definitely ruin an otherwise enjoyable weekend. But did you know that eating one Easter egg too many can affect your sleep? 


If you already have trouble getting enough quality sleep, it might be a good idea to practice moderation this Easter Sunday for the sake of your sleep. Here’s more on how overeating this Easter influences sleep quality.

How Your Eating Habits Affect Sleep

Many of our daily habits have an effect on sleep — and our eating habits are no different. From the type of food we eat to the amounts we eat and timing, nearly every aspect of our diet has an effect on our sleep, according to current research [1]. 


For example, epidemiological studies show that healthy eating habits lead to good sleep quality, while bad eating habits result in poor sleep [2,3]. Healthy eating habits are generally defined as placing emphasis on unrefined carbohydrates, unsaturated fats, fiber, moderate caloric intake, and good meal timing.


Besides that, macronutrient distribution can also have an effect on your sleep [1]. Carbohydrates seem to have the strongest effects, however, with high-carb meals found to increase the uptake of tryptophan in the brain [4]. This essential amino acid is metabolized into serotonin and melatonin, neurotransmitters that are important for sleep. In contrast, high-fat diets seem to lead to poor sleep.


Research shows that specific foods promote good sleep [1]. Examples of such foods are milk, fatty fish (high in vitamin D), Montmorency cherries, and kiwifruit. These foods contain substances that increase brain melatonin levels or they contain melatonin themselves. 


Another habit that can influence sleep is the of calories you eat during the day, and especially before bedtime.

How Easter Overindulgence May Disrupt Your Sleep

Easter dinners often include foods that are high in carbs and tryptophan. Think pork chops, ham, hot cross buns, and chocolate eggs. So you should technically have no problem falling and staying asleep with these sleep-inducing goodies?

Well, that may be true only if you keep your portions moderate, don’t eat close to bedtime, and avoid spicy foods, caffeine, and alcohol. 


Eating too many calories, especially before bedtime, can make it harder for you to fall asleep, stay asleep, and get enough hours of sleep [5]. One explanation may be that overeating causes indigestion and strains your digestive system in a way that disrupts sleep. 


Spicy foods were also found to disrupt sleep by increasing sleep onset time, decreasing slow-wave and deep sleep, and decreasing hours spent sleeping [6]. Spicy foods at dinnertime elevate core body temperature during the first stages of sleep, explaining the link.

Caffeine and alcohol can also affect sleep but in different ways. Caffeine is known to boost wakefulness as it is a central nervous system (CNS) stimulant, so having it before bedtime will inevitably make it hard for you to fall asleep. Alcohol, on the other hand, is a depressant that, while making it easier for you to fall asleep was found to have a negative impact on the second half of the night [7]. 


Alcohol also relaxes throat muscles, which can make it likely for you to snore and disrupt others’ sleep. And speaking of snoring, if you normally snore and plan a sleepover during Easter Sunday, the  Good Morning Snore Solution device will keep your airways open so that your snoring doesn’t disrupt your or anyone else's sleep on Easter.


References: 

  1. St-Onge MP, Mikic A, Pietrolungo CE. Effects of Diet on Sleep Quality.Adv Nutr. 2016;7(5):938-949. Published 2016 Sep 15.doi:10.3945/an.116.012336

  1. Katagiri R, Asakura K, Kobayashi S, Suga H, Sasaki S. Low intake of vegetables, high intake of confectionary, and unhealthy eating habits are associated with poor sleep quality among middle-aged female Japanese workers.J Occup Health. 2014;56(5):359-368.doi:10.1539/joh.14-0051-oa

  1. Faris ME, Vitiello MV, Abdelrahim DN, et al. Eating habits are associated with subjective sleep quality outcomes among university students: findings of a cross-sectional study.Sleep Breath. 2022;26(3):1365-1376.doi:10.1007/s11325-021-02506-w

  1. Spring B. Recent research on the behavioral effects of tryptophan and carbohydrate.Nutr Health. 1984;3(1-2):55-67.doi:10.1177/026010608400300204

  1. Chung N, Bin YS, Cistulli PA, Chow CM. Does the Proximity of Meals to Bedtime Influence the Sleep of Young Adults? A Cross-Sectional Survey of University Students.Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17(8):2677. Published 2020 Apr 14.doi:10.3390/ijerph17082677

  1. Edwards SJ, Montgomery IM, Colquhoun EQ, Jordan JE, Clark MG. Spicy meal disturbs sleep: an effect of thermoregulation?.Int J Psychophysiol. 1992;13(2):97-100.doi:10.1016/0167-8760(92)90048-g

  1. Thakkar MM, Sharma R, Sahota P. Alcohol disrupts sleep homeostasis.Alcohol. 2015;49(4):299-310.doi:10.1016/j.alcohol.2014.07.019



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