WEEK 3: HOW FOOD AND EXERCISE IMPACT SLEEP
NOTE: Weeks 3 and 4 can be mixed and matched to select what’s most useful to you. Week 3 covers food & exercise’s relationship to your sleep, while Week 4 covers mental stress and how to reduce it’s impact on your sleep. Feel free to jump ahead or do bits from each week now. You’re in control, and can customize your Sleep30® Challenge by Sleep Number from here on out. Below, you’ll find information on using a food and exercise diary to understand if they’re interrupting your sleep; better before-bed snacks to eat; and yoga moves for all ages.
KEEP A FOOD AND EXERCISE DIARY
Sleep30 challenge works wonderful and helps you feel refreshed when you’re awake. — Kenzie B., Sweetwater, TX*
For some people, the Sleep30® Challenge offers an excellent reason to make changes to their diet and exercise routines. All of the things that are good for your general health—staying hydrated, cutting down on sugar, eating your vegetables—are good for your sleep health, too. If you want to use the Sleep30® Challenge as leverage to reinforce other good habits, then go for it.
If you don’t want to make major changes to your food and exercise habits that’s okay. But you’ll have more success with the Sleep30® Challenge if you can reduce some of the foods and beverages that get you out of rhythm. To help you make those tweaks, try keeping a food and exercise diary during Week 3. Here’s how to do it:
WRITE AS YOU GO AND KEEP IT SIMPLE
- Track what you eat and drink right after you eat or drink.
- The Sleep30® Challenge doesn’t require calorie counts or ingredients lists. Instead, the goal is to view each day holistically, so you can make connections with how you sleep each night.
CAPTURE THE CONTEXT
- When and where and how fast you eat is just as important as what.
- You don’t have to tell the story of your meal, or your workout, but a few notes that capture the context will help you see your food and exercise habits more clearly.
- Example: Rushed through lunch in 5 minutes. Didn’t eat enough. Was starving at 2 p.m.
FEEL YOUR FEELS AND BE HONEST
- Sometimes we eat to live. Other times we live to eat.
- In the spirit of understanding, take note of how you feel after you eat to help get a clear picture of your habits.
- Example: Stress ate too much chocolate and felt guilty afterward. Upset that I didn’t get away from my desk all day.
LEARNING FROM YOUR FOOD & EXERCISE DIARY
- As you track your consumables, look for patterns.
- You may notice that on days you eat a lot of sugar you don’t sleep as well.
- Or that a late dinner prevents you from falling asleep on time.
- Or that a glass of wine at seven is fine, but a glass of wine at eight wakes you up in the middle of the night.
- The goal is not to remake your diet, but to find places where a subtle tweak can lead to better sleep.
FINAL NOTE ON YOUR FOOD & EXERCISE DIARY
Tracking food and exercise helps some people make major changes in their lives. For others it leads to smaller insights. There’s no right or wrong way to use this tool. Instead, use this as yet another source of information and inspiration for defending your sleep life.
BEST FOOD PRACTICES
- Try to eat dinner at least two hours before bedtime.
- Avoid excess sugar, especially 2–3 hours before bedtime.
- A beer, cocktail or glass of wine before bed is fine. But three or more drinks will give you junk sleep.
- No caffeine after noon. The website Caffeine Informer can help you discover hidden sources of caffeine. If you haven’t already, read our helpful step-by-step guide to gently cut back on afternoon caffeine HERE
- Try to avoid late-night snacking, but if you do snack, choose foods that help you sleep (and avoid those that don’t), like those listed below.
BETTER BEFORE-BED SNACKS
We get it. Snacks happen. But if your food and exercise diary shows you your snacks are interfering with sleep, then we have some ideas to help. Here are the five worst foods to eat before sleeping (and five tasty replacements):
The culprit: High fat foods cause acid reflux. Cake before bed may taste the best, but it increases your likelihood of junk sleep.
Replace with: Cheese. In some cultures, cheese is a dessert. That may be taking things too far, but experiment with tasty cheeses (on whole grain crackers) to keep you away from the cake.
The culprit: Dairy can cause upset stomach. It’s heavy, fatty, and may sit in your tummy like a brick, keeping you up.
Replace with: Low-fat yogurt. The yogurt pairs proteins with carbs, and because it’s lighter, the stomach has to work less digesting it than ice cream. If you’re not a fan of yogurt, or dairy doesn’t sit well, try frozen grapes or cherries.
The culprit: Citrus is a natural diuretic. Certain fruits, like citrus, make you urinate more frequently. Eat those before bed, and you could be up several times during the night running to the bathroom.
Replace with: Toast with nut butter. Carbs and protein are the trick to feeling satisfied and ready to doze off.
The culprit: Tomato sauce has acids. A good tomato sauce can make or break a slice of pizza, but the acid can lead to an unhappy stomach. Especially if you add a sprinkle of spicy red pepper flakes!
Replace with: Protein. Consider deli turkey, which has tryptophan, a sleep-inducing amino acid found in poultry, or leftover grilled chicken, which can soothe hunger without being so tempting that you want to keep eating.
The culprit: Caffeine can keep you awake. It may not be as bad as drinking a cup of midnight of joe, but chocolate has traces of caffeine that can affect your sleep. The website Caffeine Informer reports half of some high-end chocolate bars contain 26mg of caffeine, almost as much as the amount in 12 ounces of caffeinated soda.
Replace with: A granola bar, a handful of granola, or trail mix. Packed with protein, crunch and sweetness, granola provides a satisfying and healthy snack. In fact, an oatmeal raisin cookie also makes a great bedtime snack.
While we don’t recommend a rigorous workout right before bed, there are benefits of daytime exercise and light yoga before bed. Sleep Number® SleepIQ® sleepers who exercise daily are the most restful overall, and have the best SleepIQ scores and lowest heart rates. And, SleepIQ sleepers who exercise in the morning or afternoon receive the most restful sleep, compared to those who exercise in the evening. Even exercising just once a week is significantly related to increased sleep restfulness compared to not exercising regularly.**
Yoga is gentle and can work for all ages. SleepIQ sleepers who do gentle exercise (like yoga) are the most restful.** Incorporate these moves.
YOGA MOVES FOR ALL AGES
BEDTIME YOGA POSES TO END YOUR DAY
5 YOGA MOVES TO SUPPORT YOUR CORE
5 STRETCHES TO EASE BACK PAIN
Share what you learned about food or exercise. #Sleep30
*Participant received InnerCircle loyalty points for doing challenge.
**Based on SleepIQ® data from 1/1/19 to 1/31/19 and self-reported survey data (from a Sleep Number study) among SleepIQ® sleepers.”