A common belief is that caffeinated products such as coffee and soda are the only foods affecting proper sleep. Not many people are aware that nutrition plays a far bigger role in sleep quality than just avoiding caffeine an hour before bedtime.
Allergies and food sensitivities cause the body to crave foods it is sensitive to. Your body can become sensitive to almost any food, but some of the most common include gluten, lactose, and mineral salts.
What Happens to the Body?
When your body is sensitive to a certain food, the immune system automatically enters an inflammatory process, which can affect different areas of your body.
Symptoms like irritable bowel, acid reflux, gas, bloating, diarrhoea, and constipation are all results of this inflammation response. The discomfort from these symptoms make you restless at night and cause you to get up multiple times to use the bathroom. These conditions specifically make wearing one of your anti snoring devices harder.
For those who suffer from snoring, food sensitivity causes an increase in mucus production that builds up and creates sinus congestion. This blocks the air passages even more increasing symptoms of snoring and decreasing quality of sleep.
Food sensitivity also leads to vasodilation of capillaries resulting in migraines, increased joint inflammation, and skin irritation.
Food sensitivity elevates the adrenal glands’ production levels of cortisol at night. Cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone,” increases blood pressure, central nervous system activity, regulates blood sugar levels, anti-inflammatory actions, and immune responses.
This increase in cortisol makes it hard to rest completely before falling asleep, leading to trouble entering a sleeping state and restlessness throughout the night.
Cortisol regulates blood sugar levels. If cortisol production elevates, your body is inhibited in its ability to process blood sugar contributing to difficulty falling asleep at night.
Unstable blood sugar causes you to feel hungry before falling asleep or makes you wake up hungry. Increasing protein intake during dinner and omitting carbohydrates before bed helps stabilize blood sugar for a more restful sleep.
How to Identify If You Suffer From Food Sensitivity?
Identifying if you are suffering from food sensitivity is challenging. In some cases, symptoms are severe and obvious like diarrhoea or skin rashes, but often symptoms are subtle making it almost unnoticeable.
Symptoms of food sensitivity include abdominal cramps, hives, swelling of the face, heartburn, constipation, and anaphylactic shock. Sometimes food sensitivity symptoms worsen during or after physical activity.
Take note if you experience any symptoms 30 minutes or less after consuming food. Keep a food log for a few weeks of what you eat and when you experience symptoms to help your doctor identify potential suspects.
Food sensitivity can develop at any time if you believe you are suffering from food sensitivity contact your doctor immediately.
Signs You May Have an Undiagnosed Food Sensitivity
1. Chronic migraines- When you suffer from migraines doctors will often refer to your food sensitivity as migraine triggers. It is not always easy to identify your specific triggers because a headache can arise within minutes, hours, or even a day after eating the problematic food.
2. Fatigue after eating- If you notice you feel tired and start yawning immediately after a meal it is a sign your blood sugar levels are off. Sometimes anxiety, dizziness, heart palpitations, or shaking accompanies exhaustion.
3. Chronic constipation- Constipation is uncomfortable and common. If you increase fiber and fluid intake and still experience constipation, contact your doctor.
4. Gas or bloating after a meal- There are multiple causes for these symptoms, and we often identify them as normal after-effects of a good meal. If you frequently experience gas or bloating after eating you may have a hidden sensitivity.
5. Joint or muscle pain after eating- Muscle and joint pain minutes after eating is a sign your body has an inhibited inflammatory response due to food sensitivity.
Common Food Sensitivities
Peanuts, shellfish, pine nuts, eggs, and fish are all common food allergies. Lactose intolerance is another food sensitivity that may be affecting your ability to fall asleep.
Allergies to preservatives or additives found in food dyes are sometimes overlooked but common.
During your visit to the doctor, they may recommend you see an allergist who will run more specified tests. An allergist performs skin tests and blood tests and uses your food log to identify which foods are causing your problems.
Sometimes they will recommend you remove common allergen inducing foods from your diet to see if your symptoms disappear.
Living with Food Sensitivity
After diagnosis, it is helpful to visit a nutritionist who will help you make the proper dietary adjustments. Allergies to foods like peanuts, or shellfish are easy to manage by avoiding consumption.
Always check labels to ensure the foods you eat do not contain any hidden allergens. If you are uncertain always play it safe and avoid the food.
Once you identify that food sensitivity is the cause of your inability to sleep, making the proper dietary changes should help you fall asleep faster and lead to a well-rested night.