Food and Sleep

Learn About the Connection Between Food and Sleep

Most people suffer from a lack of good sleep at some point in their lives. Some studies indicate that only about 10 percent of adults sleep well all the time.

A lack of sleep can leave you feeling physically and emotionally exhausted and affect your ability to live and work productively. The food you consume can play a major part in your ability to sleep well.

Diet and Sleeping

What is clear, from numerous studies on the subject, is the relationship between your diet and the quality and quantity of sleep from which you benefit.

Research has linked poor diet with insufficient sleep, which can lead to serious health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and depression. Conversely, eating well and consuming the right kinds of foods that encourage proper sleep patterns can make a difference in your quality of sleep and overall health.  Consider the following.

Foods That Helps Induce Sleep

As well as being essential for growth and a normal metabolism, the amino acid tryptophan can help induce sleep by promoting the release of serotonin and melatonin, both known to be sleep-inducing hormones.

Foods high in tryptophan include: milk, yogurt, eggs, chicken, fish, beans, cheese, tuna, oats, nuts, seeds, and bananas. For example, drinking a glass of warm milk before bedtime can help you get to sleep. As with all dairy products, it is rich in tryptophan and calcium, both of which are known to boost levels of serotonin and melatonin.

Also, try drinking herbal teas, such as camomile, valerian, and orange blossom. They have all been shown to have a sedative effect.

Foods that Promote Quality, Restful Sleep

If you fall asleep easily but wake up during the night, try eating a light snack of complex carbohydrates, such as wholegrain cereal, oatmeal, or a small chicken sandwich.

Chicken and complex carbohydrates can ensure you have adequate levels of serotonin in the brain, which should result in a deeper, more restful sleeping period. Try a banana before bedtime, as it will digest more slowly and therefore release the necessary chemicals later in the night.

Foods to Avoid

Needless to say, coffee and tea are not the best drinks to consume before bedtime, as they contain caffeine, a stimulant that actually reaches its peak one to three hours after consumption.

Some headache and cold remedies are also high in caffeine. Although alcohol can cause you to fall asleep more quickly, it definitely does not help you get a night of quality, deep sleep. Too much alcohol will cause blood sugar levels to drop, meaning you may wake up several times during the night.

Food and Sleep – When Should You Eat? 

Try to eat at least three hours before going to bed. If you eat too close to bedtime, you could get heartburn or indigestion as your stomach produces acid for digestion. Your body temperature and metabolic rate will also increase, making it harder to fall asleep. If possible, eat a larger meal during the day, and have a smaller meal or snack in the evening.

Eating a meal high in carbohydrates about three hours before bedtime will give you a better chance of a peaceful night. Foods high in fat will also boost levels of serotonin just before bedtime. Try potatoes, pasta, cereals, cakes, chocolate, and ice cream.

If you do suffer from poor sleep patterns or even severe insomnia, it is worth experimenting with the relationship between food and sleep. By examining your diet, you may discover a link between the amount and type of food you eat on a given day and the quality of your sleep you experience.

Different types of food and consuming smaller quantities could help you to sleep better at night.

If you still have trouble sleeping, it is important seek professional advice before your health and well-being are compromised.

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