Saturday, May 25, 2019

How Food Affects Your Sleep





 Author Samantha Kent

Food fuels, comforts, and entertains. It fills a need, but its effects reach beyond just nourishment. The kind of food you eat and when you eat it can either help or halt your sleep. A diet rich in sleep supportive foods helps regulate and stabilize your sleep cycle. However, you’ll need to be aware of those that help, those that don’t, and ways to enhance your sleep experience.

What You Eat

Foods that Support Healthy Sleep
Our bodies can only be as strong as the food we put in them. Luckily, there’s a long list of foods that contain sleep-enhancing nutrients. Many of them contribute to the production of melatonin, a key sleep hormone.

  • Tryptophan: You’ve probably heard of this famous amino acid because of the traditional turkey at Thanksgiving dinner. While turkey is a good source of tryptophan, it has no more tryptophan, and less in some cases, than other sources such as oats, fish, nuts, eggs, and seeds. The tryptophan in these foods is used to make serotonin, which helps your body feel calm and relaxed in preparation for sleep.
  • Magnesium: Low magnesium levels are often associated with insomnia and other sleep disorders. To stabilize your levels add almonds, spinach, tuna, and avocados to your diet.
  • Potassium: Lack of potassium can cause muscle spasms and issues with the heart that disrupt sleep. Potassium-rich foods like spinach, lentils, and bananas can give you a potassium boost before bed.
  • Calcium: Calcium deficiency can cut into your sleep time as well. Make sure you’re eating plenty of dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese to stay balanced.

Foods to Avoid at Bedtime
There are also a few foods to avoid before bedtime. These foods alter the sleep cycle by blocking or interfering with the proteins, amino acids, and hormones needed to regulate your sleep.

  • Alcohol: Alcohol can be deceptive because it does make you feel sleepy at first. However, it changes the natural course of the sleep cycle by preventing the body from spending enough time in the deep sleep stages. In the light sleep stages, the body wakens more often, reducing the overall sleep time.
  • Caffeine: This one is no secret. Caffeine blocks sleep hormones and can continue to do so for four to six hours after it’s been consumed.
  • High fat and acidic foods: Foods high in fat and those that are acidic can contribute to heartburn and indigestion. The consequent discomfort can keep you awake for hours.

When You Eat It

Your body relies on consistent patterns to correctly time repeating behaviors like sleep. Eating regular meals that are evenly spaced helps your body recognize when it’s time to start the sleep cycle. Additionally, most people sleep better when their last meal of the day is light and eaten early. But make sure it has some healthy carbs. Studies have shown that a dinner rich in carbs can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

Conclusion: Sleep Support Beyond the Kitchen

You can further enhance your sleep by making the bedroom a sanctuary. A cool, dark, quiet bedroom with a supportive mattress is perfect. If street light is a problem, try blackout curtains; noisy neighbors, invest in a white noise machine; overheating, turn on your ceiling fan or try a table fan on your nightstand.

It’s worth taking the time and investing a little money to give your body a chance to be at it’s best. With a healthy diet and supportive bedroom, you’re on your way to better, more restful slumber.
  The author's bio:
Samantha Kent is a researcher for SleepHelp.org. Her favorite writing topic is how getting enough sleep can improve your life. Currently residing in Boise, Idaho, she sleeps in a California King bed, often with a cat on her face. 



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