Are you feeling sluggish, moody, or simply not 100%? Poor quality sleep may be the culprit.
Sleeping well most nights is crucial for your general health and wellbeing. Various things cause you to toss and turn, or not sleep at all through the night – from stress to being uncomfortable, to snoring or drinking too much alcohol. The foods you eat and when you eat them can also play a major role in how you sleep.
Some foods promote a great night’s sleep. Others will actively impinge on your ability to sleep through the night. You need to understand what you should and should not eat and make appropriate changes to your diet so that you have the best chance of a good night’s sleep becoming your “normal”.
How Food Can Impact Sleep
- Melatonin is a hormone released by the pineal gland in the centre of the brain. It is essential to the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin is sourced through eating nuts, especially almonds, as well as seeds, legumes, eggs, and fish.
- Serotonin is a brain chemical that’s critical to both mood regulation and sleep. Serotonin imbalances can lead to depression and anxiety. Tryptophan is an amino acid and a building block of serotonin. Tryptophan-rich foods can promote drowsiness and better quality sleep.
- Healthy Complex Carbohydrates improve the brain’s ability to access and utilize tryptophan.
- Protein is required by the body for appetite regulation and it also promotes nighttime sleepiness.Some foods can actively disrupt sleep:
- Sugar is a natural component in lots of foods (e.g. fruit) as well as being added (often in large amounts) to cakes, bread, desserts, and other carbohydrate-rich foods. Glucose is also produced by the body as foods like white bread, white rice, white potatoes, and white pasta are digested. Too much, or the wrong type of, carbohydrates and foods with added sugar cause blood sugar spikes and drops, and these cause fatigue, weight gain, and the need to nap during the day – which compromises nighttime sleep.They can also tax the digestive system too much to attain deep and rejuvenating sleep. The body generates heat to digest food. During sleep, this can cause night sweats.Over time, eating too much of these foods may lead to more serious chronic health conditions like Insulin Resistance, Metabolic Syndrome, and ultimately, Type II Diabetes).
- Caffeine prevents deep, quality sleep. It is also a mild diuretic, making you need to use the bathroom more throughout the night.
- Alcohol is deceptive. Yes, it can make you feel sleepy and you may fall asleep fast after a few drinks. But it interferes with your ability to sleep deeply and continuously throughout the night – leading to tossing and turning.
- Any food that generates too much stomach acid will disrupt your sleep as you will be more likely to experience uncomfortable symptoms of indigestion, including heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux.
- Some people report that eating a heavy meal in the evening can lead to nightmares.
A healthy diet incorporates plenty of the right foods and it can help you fall quickly into a healthy, deep sleep at bedtime. Not getting enough sleep, in contrast, leads to cravings for high-sugar, high-calorie, high-fat foods. These also stop you from sleeping properly. Chronic lack of sleep can cause weight gain and make it harder to lose weight.
What Should You Eat to Sleep Through the Night?
- Tryptophan-rich foods to promote healthy serotonin levels include fish, eggs, nuts, milk, soy products, lean chicken, and lean turkey.
- Choose healthy complex carbohydrates in moderate portions – whole grains and an array of coloured vegetables and legumes. Eat bread, pasta, and rice in moderation. Try pasta made from pulses or cauliflower rice as healthy alternatives.
- Eat the fresh, natural foods you’d choose if trying to lose weight – whole grains and cereals, fruits and vegetables, lean protein (especially chicken and fish), unsaturated fats (e.g. olive oil, avocado), and modest amounts of dairy.
- Avoid synthetic sweeteners. They are not good for you and can lead to unhealthy food cravings.
- Manage your portion sizes and don’t eat late at night but don’t go to bed hungry. If you need to, have a small snack an hour before bedtime – a small tub of no-added-sugar yoghurt, a small banana, a small mug of warm milk, or a slice of cheese.
- Drink plenty of water throughout the day to maintain a healthy mind and body and avoid daytime drowsiness and sluggishness.
- Some herbal teas are proven to promote rest – including Chamomile, Valerian Root, Passionflower, Lemon Balm, and Lavender.
- Almonds & Walnuts
- Kiwi Fruit & Bananas
- Sour Cherries
- Milk or Soy Milk
- Oatmeal without sugar
- Cottage Cheese
- Chamomile Tea
- Fatty Fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout)
- White Rice (in small portions)
- Avoid large nighttime meals and don’t eat anything except a small snack if required within three hours of bedtime.
- Avoid foods that are sugary, spicy, acidic, highly processed, fried, or fatty.
- Do not consume caffeine after mid-afternoon. Choose plain water, herbal teas, warm milk, or decaffeinated coffee.
- Avoid sodas (except for unsweetened mineral water).
- Alcohol should be consumed only in moderation and not within a few hours of close to bedtime.
- In particular, before bed, don’t eat celery (acts as a diuretic); ice cream (high in sugar and saturated fat); pasta (as it causes blood sugar chaos); or pizza (which is a big contributor to heartburn).
Better Sleep – Stop Snoring with ApneaRX
Making changes to the way you eat, and what you eat, is just one way to affect better sleep. Doing so will also help you maintain a healthy immune system, keep your weight down, promote healthy digestion and brain function, and it will also significantly reduce your risk of developing chronic illnesses.
Snoring can also prevent sleep, and ApneaRX can help. It is a medical-grade device which you wear in your mouth while you sleep. It gently repositions your lower jaw slightly forward, opening the airways to help stop snoring.
To learn more about how ApneaRX can help you sleep better and stop snoring, as well as to find a plethora of up-to-date information and tips about sleep health, visit our website https://apnearx.co.nz/ or call 0800 111 325.