Eating, drinking, sleeping

Will these carrots improve my sleep? Or help me to see better in the dark?

Eating, drinking and sleeping….Three of my favourite pastimes! We’ve all heard the old wives’ tales and sleep experts’ warnings about the effect of your eating and drinking habits on your sleep. Without even thinking, the following examples spring to mind: “Steer clear of caffeine – it’s a powerful stimulant and it’ll keep you awake”; “A hot milky drink before bed helps promote sleep”; “Drink chamomile tea in the evenings – it’s a natural sedative”; “Don’t eat a heavy meal too close to bedtime”; “Avoid alcohol in the evenings – it may help you to fall asleep but it’ll disturb your sleep patterns”; “Avoid protein, eat complex carbs instead before bedtime” …..Rules, rules, rules…

I wonder: Do our eating and drinking habits really have such a huge impact on our sleep as we’re led to believe? Is it really realistic and practical to, say, avoid alcohol in the evenings – should I be pouring a glass of wine on my cereal in the morning, instead? Am I really going to suffer from terrible sleep if I eat a chicken breast before bed rather than a bowl of brown rice?

According to an article published on the Financial Times’ website earlier this week (“Carrots and sticks” published 6 July 2010), Truett Tate, the Group Executive Director for wholesale banking at Lloyds, certainly believes that diet has an impact on sleep. It was reported on the Financial Times’ website that Mr Tate has started distributing carrot batons and celery sticks around the office to encourage his staff to adopt a healthier diet, with a view to improving their sleep patterns. It was also reported that senior staff are said to be keeping diaries on what they eat and how much sleep they are getting.

It’s an interesting idea and, as they say, “eat well, sleep well”. Whether it’ll work or not, I don’t know yet. But it’s great to see employers looking after their employees’ welfare and acknowledging the importance of a healthy lifestyle and good quality sleep.

Over the next few weeks or so I will be testing the impact of certain foods and drinks on my sleep quality. And, since it’s almost the weekend, I will be commencing this exercise by investigating the effects of alcohol on my sleep – hurrah!

Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net