Credible research suggests that the way you eat affects the way you sleep. Learn how adjusting your diet can help you get better quality rest each night.
Changing the Way You Eat
- Understand the circular effects. Sleep affects your diet and vice versa. Quality rest helps curb excess appetite. A good night’s sleep also helps prevent weight gain, diabetes, heart disease, and many other serious conditions.
- Enjoy a broad variety of dishes. A recent study found that people who slept 7 to 8 hours a night ate the greatest variety of foods. A diverse diet not only tastes good, but it also enhances your chances of getting all the nutrients your body needs.
- Consider cutting down on calories. Sleep issues are more common in people who are overweight. That’s just one more reason to try to take off excess pounds.
- Have a small snack before bed. Grabbing a bite before bed can keep hunger pangs from waking you up during the night. You’ll be a lot less likely to wander into the kitchen and inhale a cheesecake.
- Use caffeine wisely. Caffeine tends to heighten your awareness temporarily, but may cause you to crash a few hours later. Consume smaller servings of caffeine filled drinks. Try drinking a half cup of coffee in the morning and another at lunch. Avoid all caffeine for at least 4 hours before bedtime.
- Spot hidden sources of caffeine. Even if you give up coffee, you may still be ingesting caffeine. It’s also present in chocolate as well as in many medications, tea, and soft drinks.
- Consume alcohol in moderation. Cocktails may put you to sleep faster, but they’ll interfere with the deeper stages of slumber that are the most restorative. Experts recommend a maximum of one alcoholic beverage per day for women and two for men.
- Prepare for the post-lunch dip. You may experience drowsiness after eating a big lunch. That feeling is partly due to the energy being used for digestion and partly due to natural body rhythms that induce fatigue about every 12 hours.
Changing the Foods You Eat
- Pay attention to micronutrients. People who sleep well also show higher levels of micronutrients. Micronutrients are important substances your body requires in small amounts. A varied diet full of natural foods will help supply these.
- Choose foods that contain tryptophan. The amino acid tryptophan promotes sleep. You can find it in foods like dairy products, eggs, and nuts.
- Eat more carbohydrates. Carbohydrates enhance the effects of tryptophan. That’s what makes a bowl of cereal and milk an ideal evening snack.
- Get enough protein. Dietary protein is the source of tryptophan. Getting about 10 to 35 percent of your daily calories from protein is a good goal to keep in mind.
- Limit high fat foods. Foods high in fat can cause weight gain and disrupt your sleep. Switch to dairy products that are low-fat or fat-free. Eat more fish or choose the leanest cuts of meat.
- Limit spicy foods. Foods with too much spice may trigger heartburn when you lay down in bed. Order “hot” dishes, such as bulgogi, for lunch rather than dinner.
- Switch from commercial energy drinks to natural boosters. Commercial energy drinks tend to contain large amounts of caffeine and sugar. Natural stimulants, like drinking plenty of water or taking a daily walk, won’t interfere with your sleep.
There is a close connection between your diet and your sleeping habits. Eating foods rich in variety and high in nutrients, along with choosing sensible late night snacks, will help keep you trim and well-rested.