The 8 Best Foods For A Good Nights Sleep
26 May, 2022
If youre having trouble getting a good nights sleep, it could be because youre eating too many heavy foods with dinner or that your diet isnt entirely healthy.
In todays article well tell you about some of the best foods for a good nights sleep.Avoid insomnia naturally!
Complex Carbohydrates And Whole Grains
Whole grains like oatmeal, brown rice, barley, and whole-grain crackers may improve insulin sensitivity and prevent blood sugar spikes at night. Theyre also an excellent source of magnesium. Complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes are nutritious and rich in potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B6all of which can promote sleep.
Be Mindful Of Eating Too Close To Bedtime
Studies have shown that eating late at night can sabotage your sleeplikely by inhibiting the natural release of melatonin, which plays a crucial role in regulating your natural sleep-wake cycle. Specifically, research suggests that eating within three hours of your bedtime increases the likelihood that you’ll experience sleep disruptionsand this is especially important to keep in mind if you have acid reflux.6254a4d1642c605c54bf1cab17d50f1e
“If you are prone to experiencing heartburn, it’s important to avoid eating within three to four hours of bedtime in order to minimize any sleep disruptions due to reflux symptoms,” says Harris-Pincus. “You may also want to keep your evening meal lighter and limit fatty/fried foods and those known to be triggers like coffee, alcohol, carbonated beverages, chocolate, peppermint, spicy foods, and for some, acidic choices like tomatoes or citrus.”
By the wayfatty foods don’t just spell trouble for heartburnthey’re also more difficult for your body to digest, and therefore may cause indigestion that makes it harder to drift off. Additionally, studies have found that a higher overall saturated fat intake is associated with less time in restorative slow-wave sleep.
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How What You Eat Affects Your Sleep
Whether or not we get high-quality slumber at night is dependent on a lot more than what time we turn in at night and what time we set the alarm for. That includes everything from how much exercise we get to how much time we spend in the sun to how much time we spend looking at our phones and computer screens. And the combination of foods and drinks we fuel our bodies with throughout the day also get an important spot on that list.
It might seem obvious why a double espresso after dinner might disrupt your sleep that night as might a greasy, late-night cheeseburger with French fries. The connection between a noontime salad and your slumber is somewhat less straightforward but its an important one, Ana Krieger, MD, MPH, Medical Director of the Center for Sleep Medicine at New York-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine, tells NBC News BETTER.
Eating an overall healthy and nutrient-rich diet affects our brain health and activity and in turn, our sleep, she explains.
The Best Diet For Sleep
If you want to sleep more soundly and possibly drop a few pounds, amp up your fiber intake and forgo the sweets and saturated fats.
A new study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that what we eat has a big impact on our quality of sleep. The small study included 26 adults, 13 men and 13 women, with an average age of 35. They each spent five nights in a sleep lab, sleeping an average of seven hours and 35 minutes a night. During the first four days of the experiment, they ate a controlled diet. On the fifth day, they selected their own food.
Study participants fell asleep nearly twice as fast after consuming the controlled meals, which were designed by a nutritionist and were low in saturated fat and high in protein, than after the last “free” meal.
“It was most surprising that a single day of greater fat intake and lower fiber could influence sleep parameters,” study author Marie-Pierre St-Onge of Columbia University’s Institute of Human Nutrition said in a statement.
On that last night, the researchers found that participants experienced less restorative sleep and were more likely to wake up throughout the night. It took them an average of 17 minutes to fall asleep after eating the controlled meals, while it took an average of 29 minutes when they ate the meals of their choosing.
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How To Improve Sleep And Nutrition
If you want to improve your sleep and nutrition, talking with your doctor is a good starting point. Your doctor can help identify your barriers to sleep, including potential sleep disorders, and recommend a nutrition plan that best suits your needs.
Most people can get better sleep by improving their bedroom environment and their sleep-related habits. Collectively, this is known as sleep hygiene, and its an important factor in making consistent sleep part of your everyday routine.
Keeping a regular sleep schedule is a major component of sleep hygiene, and many people find that it can keep them from pushing their bedtime later and later. Research has found that a late sleep schedule is correlated with a higher risk of weight gain, which makes this step a potential benefit for both sleep and nutrition.
Giving yourself plenty of time to relax and get ready for bed is another element of sleep hygiene. This includes avoiding foods and drinks, like caffeinated beverages or spicy foods, that can make it harder to get to sleep. Eating too late at night, which can throw off sleep, has also been found to be worse for people trying to lose weight.
Other sleep hygiene improvements include making sure that your bedroom is dark and quiet, avoiding screen time for an hour or more before bed, having a comfortable mattress and bedding, and trying to get daylight exposure and moderate exercise every day.
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When To See A Doctor About A Lack Of Sleep
You should see your doctor if:
- working on your sleep hygiene and diet hasnt improved your sleep, specially if youve had trouble sleeping for months
- your sleep problem is affecting your daily life in a way that makes it hard for you to cope and you feel stressed by it
- you have an underlying health condition and think its affecting your sleep
- you think you might have a sleep disorder such as insomnia, RLS or sleep apnoea
Use our Smart Symptom Checker to find out what could be causing your sleep issues.
Tip from a doctor
“Setting a routine for yourself is an important part of sleep hygiene, and that includes how you eat in the evening. If you have your biggest meal at the end of the day, try to make sure its at least 3 hours before you sleep. If possible, try to do some of the preparation earlier in the day so you dont have to spend a long time cooking and can eat in the right time window.”
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Avoid Blue Light 90 Minutes Before Bed
Light is what helps sync your internal circadian clockwhich signals when it’s time to rest and wake up. Anything bright close to bedtime can put your body into go mode, rather than tell it to wind downbut the blue light from devices like your smartphone or laptop is particularly meddlesome. It has a wavelength that suppresses the secretion of melatonin and causes an increase in heart rate and body temperature that will make it take longer for you to nod off, cause you to toss and turn and shorten total sleep time. Breus didn’t hate me watching TV in the bedroomits light is less disruptivebut I had to ditch any blue-light-emitting electronics 90 minutes before hitting the hay. Of all the to-dos, this was absolutely the hardest. I totally forgot on night one and wound up getting off my phone at approximately, oh … zero minutes before bed. But after that, I read a book or watched TV.
Sleep Impacts Our Eating Patterns And Our Eating Patterns Impact Our Sleep
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults should get seven to nine hours of sleep a night. However, according to the CDC, only one in three adults is meeting these guidelines. At the same time people are struggling with sleep, they are also struggling with their weight and with making healthful food choices. One research study demonstrated that subjects who slept only four hours of sleep ate 300 more calories per day, compared to those who got nine hours of rest.
When we are sleep-deprived, the hormones that affect appetite and fullness are disrupted. Ghrelin increases our appetite, and leptin plays an important role in helping us feel full. When we dont get enough sleep, ghrelin increases and leptin decreases. Researchers looked at 495 womens sleep patterns, their daily quantity of food, and quality of food. They found that poor sleep quality was correlated with greater intake of food and lower diet quality.
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Snack Wisely Before Bed
While you shouldnt go to bed with a stuffed stomach, your stomach doesnt need to be empty either. A growling stomach can definitely keep you awake, Giannopoulos says.
Its tough to do definitive research to show that certain foods promote sleep over others, since there are so many factors that contribute to good or poor quality sleep, Krieger notes. But there are some foods for which it would make intuitive sense that they promote sleep and some preliminary studies have been done that support the claims, she explains.
Bananas, for example, contain serotonin, turkey contains tryptophan and berries contain some melatonin which are some of the building blocks for the chemicals our brains need to make for sleep. There is some research that suggests individuals with insomnia did fall asleep faster after drinking tart cherry juice, which is high in melatonin and inflammatory cytokines, all of which are known to play a role in the sleep process.
When And How Much Should You Eat In The Evening
Dr Iqbal explains that theres growing evidence to suggest that the time you eat can impact your circadian rhythm, also known as your sleep-wake cycle. As a result, eating too close to when you go to bed can potentially impact your sleep routine, and so its best to eat earlier in the evening, allowing yourself a couple of hours to digest your meal before going to sleep.
However, there is no hard and fast rule for when you should be eating. Its important to listen to your body and how you feel, so aim to feel satisfied when you eat in the evening, but not stuffed or hungry, Merchant says. It all depends on what works well for you.
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How The Wrong Foods Disrupt Sleep
One of the most significant and common ways foods impact sleep is through the gut flora they feed, says Bill Rawls, M.D., medical director of Vital Plan. Your gut microbes have a really sophisticated mechanism of communicating through neurotransmitters and other chemical messengers, Dr. Rawls says. Some of those messengers include chemicals that help you relax and induce and maintain normal sleep, like GABA, melatonin, serotonin, and glutamate.
Microbes in your gut also directly help maintain normal circadian rhythms. But when you dump a bunch of bad food in your system, it generates inflammation and selects out microbes that produce different neurotransmitters that working against you by agitating the brain, Dr. Rawls explains.
Any kind of processed and fried food, especially carbohydrates and refined sugars, are pro-inflammatory, Dr. Rawls says. Processed carbohydrates trigger inflammation directly, but they also encourage proliferation of pathogenic and opportunistic microbes, he says. These microbes tend to produce stimulating neurotransmitters, and that pretty much sets your brain on fire, so of course you dont sleep as well.
Stay Hydrated All Day Long
If youve ever been dehydrated during a workout or even on a hot day, you know your body doesnt function at its best when you dont get enough water. You might get irritable, fatigued and have trouble concentrating. Likewise, being dehydrated can disrupt your sleep, too, Giannopoulos explains.
A lack of water dries out your mouth and nasal passages, which might increase snoring and may cause hoarseness of breath in the a.m. You also may be more likely to get leg cramps, which can wake you up, too.
But that doesnt mean chugging a bottle of water right before bed. Instead, stay well-hydrated all day long, which will help keep your fluid levels up throughout the night, too.
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Relax And Clear Your Mind In The Evening
Many people have a pre-sleep routine that helps them relax.
Relaxation techniques before bed have been shown to improve sleep quality and are another common technique used to treat insomnia (
One study in older adults determined that exercise nearly halved the amount of time it took to fall asleep and provided 41 more minutes of sleep at night .
In people with severe insomnia, exercise offered more benefits than most drugs. Exercise reduced time to fall asleep by 55%, total night wakefulness by 30%, and anxiety by 15% while increasing total sleep time by 18% .
Although daily exercise is key for a good nights sleep, performing it too late in the day may cause sleep problems.
This is due to the stimulatory effect of exercise, which increases alertness and hormones like epinephrine and adrenaline.
However, some studies show no negative effects, so it clearly depends on the individual (
Drinking large amounts of liquids before bed can lead to similar symptoms, though some people are more sensitive than others.
Although hydration is vital for your health, its wise to reduce your fluid intake in the late evening.
Try to not drink any fluids 12 hours before going to bed.
You should also use the bathroom right before going to bed, as this may decrease your chances of waking in the night.
Diet And Sleep: The Big Picture
Its natural to want to find a food to make you sleepy or the single best food for sleep, but its important to be realistic. Sleep is a complicated process affected by many things including mental health, light exposure, and underlying physical issues.
Diet is also multifaceted. It isnt just one food instead, it is cumulative, affected by when, what, and how much we eat throughout a day and over weeks, months, and years. Individuals can have distinct reactions to different diets, making it hard to generalize about the perfect diet for everyone.
Because of these factors, its hard to design research studies that provide conclusive answers about the optimal food for sleep. While its tempting to try to draw hard-and-fast conclusions from individual studies, the science doesnt support broad extrapolations.
Given the complexity of diet and sleep, for many people it may be more meaningful to focus on the big picture healthy sleep and diet habits rather than on individual foods and drinks.
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The Best Foods To Help You Sleep
Whether its a jolt after a cup of coffee or drowsiness after Thanksgiving dinner, most people have personally experienced how food and drinks can affect their energy and alertness.
With as many as 35% of American adults suffering from symptoms of insomnia, its understandable that theres a strong desire to take advantage of food and drinks for better sleep.
Both diet and sleep are complex, which means theres no silver bullet or single food that is guaranteed to help with sleep. However, there are some foods and drinks that may make it easier to get a great nights sleep.
Keep The Bedroom Around 66 To 70 Degrees
Research shows that this is the optimal room temperature for sleeping. And because warmer temps can throw off sleep more than cooler ones, it’s a good idea to err on the lower sideespecially if you also have heavy blankets or comforters. I literally measured the air temperature with my Thermapen to make sure my bedroom was in the sweet spot. I still felt warm during the night and turned on the ceiling fan to make the room even cooler after the first few nights.
How Your Diet Can Help You Have A Good Night’s Sleep
It’s all about minding your body’s internal clocks. “Our bodies have a circadian rhythm for everything,” says Alicia Roth, PhD, a sleep disorders expert at Cleveland Clinic. Every system, from digestion to hunger, hormones and each and every organhas its own body clock. “Having your eating habits aligned with your sleep-wake circadian rhythm can make a difference in your health,” she says.
That means eating regular meals around the same time each day, says Roth. This does not have to be exact, but it should fall within an hour of when you normally eat. “Your body loves predictability and consistency,” she says. This goes for everything you do during the day but setting consistent meals allows your body to send out appetite and fullness signals at the right time and ready your body to metabolize and digest your food. And, your body also uses food intake as a way to “keep time” throughout the day and set your circadian rhythms.
Set Your Bedroom Temperature
Body and bedroom temperature can also profoundly affect sleep quality.
As you may have experienced during the summer or in hot locations, it can be very hard to get a good nights sleep when its too warm.
One study found that bedroom temperature affected sleep quality more than external noise (
That said, the quality and type of your late-night snack may play a role as well.
In one study, a high carb meal eaten 4 hours before bed helped people fall asleep faster .
Interestingly, one study discovered that a low carb diet also improved sleep, indicating that carbs arent always necessary, especially if youre used to a low carb diet .
Consuming a large meal before bed can lead to poor sleep and hormone disruption. However, certain meals and snacks a few hours before bed may help.
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