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From Farm to Bed: The Link Between Food Safety and Quality Sleep

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Up to date
Update: July 4, 2023
5 min read

Written by

kritika joshi
Content Writer
Food Safety And Quality Sleep

Sleep is a crucial component of overall health and well-being. It plays a significant role in our physical and mental restoration, cognitive function, immune system regulation, and emotional balance. However, many individuals struggle to attain restful sleep, with as many as 35% of American adults experiencing symptoms of insomnia. This widespread issue has led to a growing interest in leveraging the power of food and beverages to improve sleep quality.

Most people have personally experienced how food and drinks can affect their energy levels and alertness, whether it’s the jolt from a cup of coffee or the drowsiness induced by a hearty Thanksgiving dinner. While there is no magic solution or single food guaranteed to enhance sleep, certain dietary choices can potentially facilitate a great night’s sleep.

This article aims to explore the intricate connection between food safety and sleep quality. It will delve into the impact of food contaminants, such as pesticides, additives, and pathogens, on sleep patterns. Additionally, practical tips will be provided to prioritise food safety and promote better sleep hygiene.

By understanding how food safety influences our sleep and adopting informed strategies, we can optimise our overall well-being and enjoy more restorative sleep. Below are a few food-related key factors that affect our sleep:

Food Contaminants

Common food contaminants can significantly impact sleep quality. Pesticides and chemicals, commonly found in non-organic produce and processed foods, have been linked to disturbances in sleep patterns. According to a study published in the Environmental Health Perspectives journal, exposure to pesticides was associated with an increased risk of sleep disorders and insomnia symptoms. This highlights the importance of choosing organic or pesticide-free options whenever possible.

Furthermore, contaminated food borne illnesses can also disrupt sleep. Foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella or E. coli can lead to symptoms like diarrhoea, vomiting, and abdominal discomfort, causing discomfort and disturbances in sleep. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that each year, approximately 48 million Americans suffer from foodborne illnesses, resulting in over 120,000 hospitalizations. Preventing such illnesses through proper food safety practices is crucial for maintaining uninterrupted sleep.

To mitigate these risks, it is crucial to adopt proper food safety measures. This includes opting for organic or pesticide-free food options, practising thorough washing and cleaning of produce, ensuring proper cooking temperatures, and following safe food storage practices.

Nutritional Factors

Nutrition plays a crucial role in promoting restful sleep and maintaining optimal sleep quality. Certain foods contain nutrients and compounds that aid in relaxation and support healthy sleep patterns. For instance, foods rich in tryptophan, an amino acid precursor to serotonin and melatonin, can promote relaxation and improve sleep. Examples include turkey, dairy products, nuts, and seeds.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, a balanced diet consisting of adequate amounts of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats contributes to better sleep quality. Conversely, an unhealthy diet high in processed foods, refined sugars, and saturated fats can negatively impact sleep.

Research suggests that poor diet quality is associated with increased sleep difficulties and decreased sleep duration. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, individuals with diets low in fibre and high in saturated fat and sugar reported more frequent nighttime awakenings and poorer overall sleep quality.

By adopting a balanced diet that includes sleep-supportive foods and avoids unhealthy dietary choices, we can improve sleep quality and promote overall well-being. Making mindful nutrition choices alongside proper food safety measures provides a comprehensive and effective approach to enhancing our sleep schedule and quality.

Food Sensitivities

Food allergies and intolerances can have a significant impact on sleep quality. When individuals consume foods they are allergic or intolerant to, it can lead to various sleep issues and disruptions. For example, allergies to certain foods, such as peanuts or shellfish, can trigger allergic reactions that cause discomfort, itching, and breathing difficulties, making it challenging to fall asleep or stay asleep.

Moreover, food sensitivities can also contribute to sleep problems. Sensitivities to specific foods, such as gluten or lactose, can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, bloating, and inflammation, leading to disrupted sleep patterns and increased wakefulness during the night.

According to estimates from the Food Allergy Research and Education organization, up to 15 million Americans have food allergies, and approximately 30-50 million individuals in the United States are lactose intolerant. These statistics highlight the prevalence of food sensitivities and the importance of addressing them for better sleep.

To combat these situations, identifying and managing food sensitivities is key, especially for improving sleep quality. Keeping a food diary and working with healthcare professionals, such as allergists or dieticians, can help pinpoint potential sensitivities. Elimination diets or specialised testing may be employed to identify specific trigger foods.

By avoiding or properly managing food sensitivities, individuals can experience relief from sleep disturbances and enjoy more restful nights.

Eating Habits

Eating habits, particularly the timing of meals and snacks, can significantly impact sleep quality. Late-night eating has been shown to disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle and impair sleep quality. Consuming heavy, high-fat meals close to bedtime can lead to indigestion, acid reflux, and discomfort, making it challenging to fall asleep and maintain a restful state throughout the night.

Experts recommend establishing regular meal times and allowing sufficient time for digestion before bedtime. Ideally, dinner should be consumed at least two to three hours before sleep to promote optimal digestion and minimize sleep disturbances. Additionally, choosing lighter, nutrient-dense snacks in the evening, such as fruits or yoghourt, can be more sleep-friendly compared to heavy, greasy options.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, around 25% of adults in the United States report eating at least one nighttime snack daily, highlighting the prevalence of late-night eating habits. By adopting healthier eating patterns and being mindful of the timing and content of our meals, we can improve sleep quality and promote a more restorative night’s rest.

Promoting healthy eating habits involves mindful practices such as practising portion control, avoiding excessive caffeine and alcohol intake, and incorporating a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. These habits not only support overall health but also contribute to better sleep quality.

Tips for Safe Food Handling

Proper food storage and preparation are essential for maintaining food safety and preventing foodborne illnesses. By following hygienic practices and implementing safe handling techniques, we can minimise the risk of contamination and ensure the safety of the food we consume.

Some important tips for safe food handling include:

  • Store food at proper temperatures: Refrigerate perishable items promptly, ensuring they are kept at or below 40°F (4°C) to inhibit bacterial growth. Keep the freezer temperature at 0°F (-18°C) or below to maintain food quality.
  • Separate raw and cooked foods: Prevent cross-contamination by storing raw meats, poultry, and seafood separately from cooked and ready-to-eat foods. Use separate cutting boards, utensils, and containers to avoid bacterial transfer.
  • Practise proper hand hygiene: Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after handling food, especially after using the bathroom, touching raw foods, or handling garbage.
  • Cook food to appropriate temperatures: Use a food thermometer to ensure that meat, poultry, seafood, and other dishes are cooked to the recommended internal temperature to kill harmful bacteria. The FDA provides guidelines for safe cooking temperatures.
  • Handle leftovers safely: Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within two hours of cooking. Consume leftovers within a safe time frame (usually within 3-4 days) or freeze them for future use.

According to the CDC, an estimated 48 million Americans suffer from foodborne illnesses annually, resulting in approximately 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. By implementing these safe food handling practices, we can significantly reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses and promote the well-being of ourselves and our loved ones.


In conclusion, the impact of food safety on sleep quality cannot be underestimated. We have explored how food contaminants, nutritional factors, food sensitivities, and eating habits can all influence our ability to attain restful sleep. The statistics highlight the prevalence of foodborne illnesses, food allergies, and sleep disturbances, emphasising the need for safe food practices.

It is essential to prioritise proper food storage, handling, and preparation to minimise the risk of contamination and foodborne illnesses. By choosing organic or pesticide-free options, incorporating sleep-supportive foods into our diet, and managing food sensitivities, we can create an environment that promotes healthier sleep patterns.

Also, it is important to remember that sleep hygiene is not solely reliant on food safety. It is a holistic approach that encompasses various factors, including a safe sleep environment, a regular sleep schedule, stress management, and exercise.

Let us commit to prioritising safe food practices, making informed choices about our diet, and creating a sleep-friendly environment. By doing so, we can reap the benefits of restorative sleep, promoting our physical and mental health for a better quality of life.


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Written by

kritika joshi
Content Writer
6+ years of experience as a content writer. Previously worked as a freelance writer for one of the top mattress brands in India. Well-versed in writing product reviews, product descriptions and content for e-comm sites.

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