Believe it or not what you eat before bedtime can help or hinder your sleep for the night. There are food and drinks that contain natural sleep aids in addition to food and drinks which contain caffeine that will keep you tossing and turning. So, before you eat dinner or go for a late night snack keep in mind the information below when planning your evening meal.
Best - Foods Containing Tryptophan
Tryptophan is an amino acid that is not produced in our bodies, so we have to get it from the foods we eat. It is needed for our bodies to aid in the production of Serotonin, which in turn makes Melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that helps with sleep and wake cycles. The top 10 foods rich in Tryptophan according to HealthAliciousNess.com are:
- Seeds and Nuts
- Soya Foods
- Lamb, Beef, Pork and Game
- Chicken and Turkey
- Uncooked Oat Bran and Oats
- Beans and Lentils
Worst – Those Greasy Burgers and Fries
Any rich high fat foods are going to cause your body to activate the digestion process and start releasing acid into your stomach. This acid can potentially spill over into the esophagus and other parts of your body causing heartburn and overall discomfort. Not only are these fatty foods unhealthy and cause weight gain, but they can impair your sleep. Steer clear of your favorite fast food joints if you are looking for a restful night’s sleep.
Best – Cherries
Interestingly, cherries are one of the few natural foods that contain Melatonin. As mentioned earlier, Melatonin helps with our sleep and wake cycles. Numerous studies have been conducted on tart cherries and cherry juice to promote sleep. One research study at the University of Extramadura in Spain showed that the ingestion of a cherry based beverage increased nocturnal rest and could potentially help with sleep disorders.
Worst – Alcohol
Even though we tend to feel lethargic and sleepy after a few drinks, alcohol is on the top of the list for causing sleep interruptions. Dr. John Shneerson who specializes in sleep medicine explains that when you drink alcohol it causes you to go into a deep sleep missing the initial REM sleep. Therefore, after a few hours when the alcohol starts wearing off it can cause you to come out of your deep sleep.
On a regular night you go through around 6-7 REM cycles, but when you consume alcohol before bed you may only get 1-2 REM cycles. This results in a poor night’s sleep and waking up feeling restless and tired. So, skip the glass of wine if you need to be rested for the following day.
Best – Carbohydrates
Wow! A reason to eat more carbs! Before you get your hopes up, put down the bag of chips and think more along the lines of a small bowl of whole grain cereal or oatmeal. You need to think complex carbs. Complex carbohydrates provide vitamins, minerals and anitoxidents unlike simple carbs (cookies, white bread, etc..) that cause a spike in blood sugar when digested. So, stick to the healthy natural grains and vegetables as a snack before bed to help you drift off into dreamland.
Worst – Caffeine
No one needs to tell us that caffeine is a stimulant and totally interrupts our ability to sleep, but it isn’t just coffee and soda that contains caffeine. Foods like ice cream, protein bars, enhanced bottled waters, and chocolate all contain significant amounts of caffeine. It is the hidden caffeine in food that may hinder your ability to sleep. Instead of that bowl of ice cream for bed…..grab the oatmeal for a better snooze.
In the end, a healthy diet is essential for our bodies to rest and recover properly. Now that you have the information on which foods can help you sleep better hopefully you will incorporate these foods into your diet and avoid the foods that interrupt your sleeping patterns. Carpe Sleepum.