We may not think of sleep falling into the nutrition category; however, what we eat (or don’t eat) can greatly affect the quality of our sleep, which affects our health.
What to avoid:
- Caffeine – even if we don’t think it is “keeping us up” it can be affecting the quality of our sleep. Don’t consume caffeine-containing items after 12 noon for optimal results
- Sugar – this can ramp up our insulin quickly which then causes our adrenals to kick in when that insulin level crashes.
- Spicy foods – can cause digestive issues and also cause our body temp to increase
- Cheese and other salty foods – these can increase amino acid production that increases alertness (tyramine) and the salt causes dehydration, which leads to poor sleep quality
- Alcohol – too much and too close to bed will cause disrupted sleep cycles.
What to eat:
- Almonds, walnuts or pistachios (unsalted) – contain natural melatonin for good sleep, and magnesium for relaxation.
- Turkey – sleepy after that Thanksgiving meal? Well, tryptophan is the culprit. Put this on the menu for a really great nights sleep.
- Chamomile tea – a long-standing remedy for relaxation and digestive issues, the antioxidant apigenin found in chamomile binds to certain brain receptors that may promote sleepiness.
- Honey – only raising insulin levels slightly, it allows tryptophan to enter our brain for sleep and relaxation
- Tart cherry juice – a couple ounces provide a good source of melatonin
- Fatty fish – provides good fats as well as vitamin D, both of which have been shown to enhance sleep quality by boosting serotonin production. (As we enter the winter months, PLEASE get your vitamin D level checked, which should be at a minimum of 50 nmol/l)
Try not to eat or drink full meals for 3 hours before bed so that digestion has finished and enjoy those quality ZZZs!