Fast Food & Sleep

Fast Food & Sleep

Why fast food & sleep don’t mix

Do you ever find yourself having trouble falling asleep at night and wondering why? Have you ever stopped to consider what food you’ve eaten that day? What you consume throughout the day can affect how well you sleep at night.  Foods high in fat or spicy – which is most of what’s found at any drive thru in America – can also impact your quality of sleep.

While fast food is convenient – and let’s be honest, somewhat addictive – it does nothing for our waistlines or our sleep habits.

How fast food affects your sleep

  • Heartburn – The majority of fast food can be greasy, which can trigger heartburn, a backflow of food particles and acid from the stomach into the esophagus. Say hello to a very uncomfortable – and likely sleepless – night.
  • Obesity – A study published in “Obesity Surgery” in May 2012 examined the behaviors of 270 obese patients and compared them to the patients’ body mass index. The results indicated that fast food consumption had the largest impact on obesity levels. People who are obese generally suffer from other health complications such as heart disease, type-2 diabetes and sleep apnea – all of which also affect sleep quality.
  • Depression – In a study published in Public Health Nutrition journal researchers found that eating commercial baked goods and fast food may be linked to depression. People who eat fast food are 51% more likely to develop depression than those who eat little to no fast food. It was also found that the more fast food they consumed, the more likely study participants were to develop depression. Depression can affect your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep. 

Sleep friendly fast food options

Believe it or not, there are fast food options that aren’t all that bad for you. Many fast food restaurants offer healthier options – you just have to know what they are and to ask for them. We’ve made you a little cheat sheet of things you can do to tweak your order to make it healthier and more sleep friendly.

  • Whole grains – If the restaurant offers a whole grain bun option, ask for that. Whole grains will keep you fuller, longer and help increase your serotonin levels, making it easier to sleep – definitely more bang for your buck!
  • Avocado – If you’re some place that offers avocado, substitute that for mayonnaise. Avocado is not only tasty but nutrient rich, less fat than mayo and promotes sleep.
  • Grilled, not fried – If there is a grilled chicken option, choose that over the fried chicken. Less grease, less calories, less chance of an upset stomach.
  • Side salad – Just say no to fries! Ask if you can get a side salad with your order, instead of the traditional French fries.
  • Pass on the cheese – Burgers aren’t all that bad for you once you ditch the cheese. Slap one on a whole wheat bun with some tomato, lettuce and onion and you’re not doing so bad. Add some whole grain mustard or a slice of avocado for some extra flavor.
  • Mild, not hot – If you’re ordering something with a kick to it, make sure it’s a small one. Spicy foods can cause indigestion and heartburn, which can be downright uncomfortable.
  • Egg whites – When talking about breakfast on the go, choose an egg white wrap with veggies over a cheesy bacon croissant. Still yummy and a great way to start your day.

By making these few simple changes to your meal when ordering, not only are you cutting calories but you’re improving your ability to fall and stay a sleep.