If you’ve been wondering how healthy eating can help you sleep better, I have some great news for you. It can! And, if you’re anything like me, sleep seems to elude me more often as I age.
Nutrition isn’t just important to your diet and fitness. It can also make a huge impact on your sleep, and, ultimately, your overall health. In fact, your choice at the kitchen table can either boost sleep quality, helping you wake bright-eyed and ready for the new day, or leave you tossing and turning all night. Here are some of the different ways that your food choices can help or hinder your quality of rest.
Fall Asleep Faster
- Eat oatmeal: Certain foods, like oats, contain melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle. Supplementing your diet with additional levels of melatonin can help you feel sleepy at a consistent time, easing the transition to bedtime. Snacking on a bowl of unsweetened oatmeal with fruit can help shorten the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep and get in the hours you need.
- Avoid chocolate: In comparison, stimulants in candy like dark chocolate can prevent your body from shutting down completely. In fact, the average dark chocolate candy bar contains almost as much caffeine as coffee. For better sleep, enjoy your chocolatey treats at least two hours before bedtime.
Improve Sleep Quality
- Eat kiwi: Kiwi contain serotonin, a hormone that is linked to REM, or deep sleep. It’s during this sleep stage that the brain develops, and your muscles rebuild. Multiple REM cycles are required for your sleep to be productive and for your morning to be fatigue-free. Try a few slices of kiwi at night to ease your transition into REM sleep and get more restorative rest.
- Avoid wine: Although alcohol may make you fall asleep quickly, it can severely inhibit your ability to reach deep sleep. A glass likely won’t cause too much of an effect but drinking heavily before bed can lower your sleep quality and leave you feeling tired the next day.
Lengthen Sleep Duration
- Eat salmon: Fatty fish like salmon are great sources of filling protein, as well as melatonin. In one 100 mg. serving of salmon, there is 20 g. of protein, nearly half of the recommended daily intake. It’s this protein that can keep you full throughout the night and prevent you from waking up hungry for a midnight snack.
- Avoid cheeseburgers: Although heavy in protein, the high grease and fat content in a cheeseburger can increase stomach acid and sleep-disruptive heartburn. Instead, consider a turkey burger with veggies for a longer, more productive night’s sleep.
If you still have issues getting better sleep, no worries!
There are a lot of other ways to improve your rest. Investing in better pillows, or even a luxury mattress can help you find enough comfort to sleep through the night. Alternatively, a hot nighttime bath can calm anxiety and lower your heart rate, helping you move into sleep easily.
Try to incorporate some of these suggestions into your daily routine for improved health and overall well being!