What you eat affects how you sleep. If you could pick the right foods to help you get the best sleep possible, wouldn’t you? And if you knew which foods would hinder your restful slumber, wouldn’t you avoid them? Now is your chance to learn which foods to eat, and which to steer clear of for a good night’s sleep.
Reach for Tryptophan-rich foods
We have all heard of warm milk’s magical ability to send us off to dreamland. Do you know why it is true? Dairy foods contain tryptophan, which is a sleep-promoting substance. Other foods that are high in tryptophan include nuts and seeds, bananas, honey, and eggs.
Indulge your craving for carbs
Carbohydrate-rich foods complement dairy foods by increasing the level of sleep-inducing tryptophan in the blood. So a few perfect late night snacks to get you snoozing might include a bowl of cereal and milk, yogurt and crackers, or bread and cheese.
Have a snack before bedtime
If you struggle with insomnia, a little food in your stomach may help you sleep. But don’t use this as an open invitation to pig out. Keep the snack small. A heavy meal will tax your digestive system, making you uncomfortable and unable to get soothing sleep.
Put down the burger and fries!
Research shows that people who often eat high-fat foods not only gain weight, they also experience a disruption of their sleep cycles. A heavy meal activates digestion, which can lead to nighttime trips to the bathroom.
Beware of hidden caffeine
It is no surprise that an evening cup of coffee might disrupt your sleep. Even moderate caffeine can cause sleep disturbances. But don’t forget about less obvious caffeine sources, like chocolate, cola, tea, and decaffeinated coffee. For better sleep, cut all caffeine from your diet four to six hours before bedtime. Some over-the-counter and prescription drugs contain caffeine, too, such as pain relievers, weight loss pills, diuretics, and cold medicines.
Skip the nightcap
Alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, but you may experience frequent awakenings, less restful sleep, headaches, night sweats and nightmares. If you are drinking alcohol in the evening, balance each drink with a glass of water to dilute the alcohol’s effects.
Beware of heavy, spicy foods
Lying down with a full belly can make you uncomfortable, since the digestive system slows down when you sleep. It can also lead to heartburn, as can spicy cuisine. Make sure to finish a heavy meal at least four hours before bedtime.
Keep protein to a minimum at bedtime
Sorry Atkins. Protein, an essential part of our daytime fare, can be a poor choice for a bedtime snack. Protein-rich, high-fat foods are harder to digest. So skip the fatty high-protein snack before bedtime and opt for a glass of warm milk or some sleep-friendly carbs, like crackers.
Cut the fluids by 8 P.M.
Yes, staying hydrated throughout the day is great for your body, but curtail your fluid intake before bed. You are sure to have interrupted sleep if you are constantly getting up to go to the bathroom.
Don’t be fooled by a relaxing smoke
Nicotine is a stimulant, with effects similar to caffeine. Avoid smoking altogether and especially before bedtime or if you wake up in the middle of the night.