There is often an endless list of factors that can affect sleep. Many of these factors are not what people usually consider to be associated with sleep in any way, but they go a long way in determining the amount and quality of rest you get every night. From the number of hours, you work every day to the kinds of food you eat to the amount of caffeine and alcohol you consume to your bedroom environment– all of these factors influence sleep quality in one way or the other. For instance, if you eat a big heavy meal very close to bedtime, your sleep quality that night will be negatively affected.
When it comes to food, there is a lot that’s connected to sleep. Not only does the amount of food you eat every day have an impact on your sleep quality, but your overall diet also goes a long way in influencing your quality of rest. There is a lot of social awareness about eating healthy and exercising right in order to stay in shape, reduce stress and get the right amount of sleep. But even when people think they are doing everything right, they may actually be following a diet that’s not beneficial for sleep.
Recently, an acidic diet has come under the scanner for being harmful to sleep quality. But the majority of the global population follows an acidic diet even without knowing it. But this kind of diet is often responsible for insufficient or poor sleep quality. If you wake up feeling tired every morning an acidic diet could be responsible for it.
What Is an Acidic Diet?
You have an acidic diet when most of the foods that you consume have a pH level of 4.6 or lower. These types of food produce more acid in the body and make your entire system more acidic than alkaline. The pH level of any substance tells you if it is an acid, an alkali or neutral. For instance, the pH level in a battery is zero, which is extremely acidic. But your toilet cleaner has a pH level of 14, which is completely alkaline. Water, especially if it’s pure distilled water, has a pH level of 7, which is neither acidic nor alkaline.
In the same way, different parts of our bodies have different pH levels. The pH level in your blood is more alkaline than the pH level of your stomach. This is because various acids are produced in the intestine help break down food. Your blood should generally remain alkaline. If the pH level of your blood is too low, you have too much acid in your system.
Consuming acidic foods on a regular basis contributes to a low blood pH level. When the pH level in your blood is low, it interferes with the pH level of your stomach and leads to various digestive and gastrointestinal issues. Generally, the low pH level of the stomach is beneficial for proper digestion of food. But if the pH level of your blood is also low, then this can cause a problem. If you suffer from frequent indigestion, it could be a sign that your body is acidic.
What Foods Are Acidic?
There are several everyday food products that are acidic in nature, and regular consumption of these can make the blood pH level lower than it should be. Some of the most acidic foods are:
- Dairy products
- Processed food like pizzas, fries, burgers, pies, cookies, donuts, etc
- Both fresh meat and processed meat, such as ground beef
- Sodas, alcohol, and other sweetened beverages
- Protein-rich food and protein supplements
- Fruits and fruit juices
- Certain vegetables
These are all common foods that we consume daily, but they contribute to making the blood acidic and hurt not only the digestive system but also sleep quality.
How Acidic Diet Affects Sleep
Most people follow an acidic diet, without realizing that it affects their sleep quality. The stomach produces enough acids on its own, but excessive consumption of acidic foods increase this normal level of acids and cause problems. This is the reason why you have trouble falling asleep after consuming certain foods for dinner or why you are asked to not consume citrus fruits late in the evening.
It requires the brain a lot of energy to help us sleep. When the system is focused on digestion throughout the night, it cannot focus on falling asleep. Any acidic food increases the time taken for digestion, making the intestine work harder. And when the intestine is working hard to break down the acids, the brain is unable to fall asleep. Even if does manage to fall asleep, the sleep quality is poor. If you wake up tired even after getting 8 hours of sleep, it could be the effect of an acidic diet.
Benefits of Alkaline Diet
Foods considered alkaline have a pH level higher than 7. They help balance the acids already present in your system. Alkalizing foods should be a major part of any diet because they keep the digestive system healthy as well as contribute to better sleep. Alkaline foods include:
- soy, tofu, miso, and soybeans
- most fresh vegetables
- unsweetened yogurt and milk
- certain fruits
- herbs and spices, not including salt, nutmeg, and mustard
- lentils and beans
- some whole grains, such as millet and quinoa
- healthy fats in nuts, olive oil, seeds and avocado
- herbal teas
To keep your diet on the alkaline side, you should replace acidic foods with alkalizing ones. This isn’t hard to do if you cook your own meals and eat at home. But if you regularly eat out or consume packaged foods, you are more at risk of a higher acidic level. Alkaline diets focus more on plant-based foods and eliminate processed food. Sticking to an alkaline diet isn’t possible if you regularly eat out, but small changes can be made slowly to improve health as well as the quality of sleep.