How Holiday Eating & Drinking Can Affect Your Sleep

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Dr. Dan Jensen
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The holidays are a time to celebrate with family and friends, but they’re also all about eating. We have feasts with our loved ones, and sometimes eat until we can’t take another bite. There’s nothing wrong with a little holiday indulgence, but you should know that holiday eating and drinking can affect your sleep.

How Eating Affects Sleeping

If you’re struggling to sleep at night, researchers are inviting you to look at your diet. Eating a diet of saturated fats, processed carbs, and sugars is very disruptive to your sleep. Eating sugars and carbs can make you feel sleepy at first. You’ll fall asleep easily, but you will wake up repeatedly throughout the night and have a worse quality of sleep overall. This is because your blood sugar levels rise quickly and then drop quickly, causing disturbances in sleep.

Meanwhile, eating a diet of plants, unsaturated fats, nuts, and lean meats can promote better sleep. You’ll have more stable blood sugar levels, and better sleep.

Having One More Bite 

It’s tempting to have one more bite of dessert, or have another glass of champagne. The holidays are full of delicious treats and some of your favorite foods that only get made once a year. Unfortunately, holiday food is often full of saturated fats, processed carbs, and sugars. Having one more bite could be affecting your sleep more than you realize, keeping you up at night during the holidays and making you feel tired and sluggish during the day. These are some ways you can protect your sleep during the holiday season.

Don’t Try to “Save Calories”

Have you starved yourself one day so you can binge the next? Or maybe you avoided eating all day to have a big holiday meal in the evening. “Saving calories” can affect your sleep, and make it difficult to fall asleep that night. When you come to the table on a very empty stomach, you’re more likely to crave high-carb foods that give you a quick sugar high and then an inevitable sugar crash.

Rather than skipping meals before a big holiday meal, eat mindfully during the day. Eat healthy, light meals with lots of veggies and lean protein so that you’ll be able to indulge in the evening without going overboard. 

Use Small Serving Spoons

A great way to enjoy all the holiday foods without overeating is to use small serving spoons. This helps you resist piling your plate with holiday treats, and you’ll have room on your plate to try a bit of everything. An average meal takes around 3 hours to digest, but a holiday feast can take anywhere from 8 to 12 hours to digest! When you avoid eating huge meals, you’ll have an easier time digesting the food, and you’ll sleep soundly later that night.

Eat Earlier in the Day

Because it takes your body a long time to digest a big holiday meal, it’s a good idea to eat earlier in the day. If you can, plan to eat your holiday meal at lunch time instead of dinner time. Your body will have more time to digest, and you’ll enjoy a better night’s sleep.

Eating earlier in the day also reduces your risk of heartburn. If you go to bed or lie down for a nap right after eating, you’re more likely to feel heartburn.

Lay Off the Coffee and Cocktails

Holiday drinking is as much a tradition as holiday eating. But just like overindulging in food can lead to poor sleep, consuming too much alcohol can also disrupt your sleep. Having a beer before bed might make you fall asleep easier, but it will disrupt your sleep. You’ll find yourself waking up in the night and experiencing sleep disturbances.

Caffeine can also make it harder to sleep, preventing your body from entering deep sleep. Avoid drinking too much coffee or alcohol in the evening, and wrap up your holiday drinking earlier in the day. 

Sound Sleep Medical

Are you having trouble sleeping this holiday season? Follow these tips for holiday eating and drinking to enjoy better sleep. If you’re still not getting the rest you need, visit us at Sound Sleep Medical to find out why you’re not sleeping soundly every night.