Food Practices To Avoid Before Sleep
Written by: Kavata Kithome
Food and sleep have a big correlation with each other; have you ever noticed how some food make you sleepy, or maybe that you have trouble falling asleep after a large carbohydrate meal?
This is because food interacts with alertness through a series of chemical reactions in your body and brain. Indigestions, acid reflux or even hunger pains can affect your sleep.
As a health coach who loves her sleep, I have been on a mission to understand the best ways to get better sleep. I have discussed in several articles different tips to help you get the sleep your body needs and deserves and today is no different. Today I would like to discuss the best foods to help boost your sleep quality naturally (without adding on extra pounds!).
If you don’t get enough quality sleep, eating right for great sleep may be the key you are missing. Most protein rich foods contain tryptophan – an essential amino acid necessary to make serotonin, which converts to melatonin in the brain’s pineal gland. Increasing melatonin levels in the bloodstream signals the brain and body that is it is time to sleep.
Protein offers the body and brain tryptophan, carbohydrates make tryptophan more available to the brain, B6 vitamins are used by the body to make serotonin and even provide melatonin and the cycle continues.
Here is the exciting news, food with the highest tryptophan concentration are chocolate (how awesome?), oats, dried dates, nut milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, eggs, fish, poultry, red meat, sesame, chickpeas, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, buckwheat, spirulina and bananas.
With that in mind, here are some food practices to AVOID before sleep:
1. Eating A Big Dinner Less Than 3 Hours Before Bedtime. By doing so, your body will be so busy trying to digest the meal and can interrupt your sleep. This will increase your chances of acid reflux and indigestion and poor sleep.
2. Eating Spicy Or Acidic Foods And Fluids At Night. Those that know me know that I love spicy food; cayenne pepper is one of those spices that goes in everything, even my juice. But spicy food at night promotes heartburn during sleep and who wants that?
3. Snacking On Foods That Spike Your Blood Sugar Levels. These make you gain weight, which is counterintuitive if you ask me.
4. Drinking Caffeinated Drinks Close To Bedtime. Cut off should be at least 5 hours before bed.
5. Drinking Water And Other Fluids Before Bedtime. This one is hard for me, I love drinking tea or water before bed and then it has me running to the bathroom several times during the night. Now I try to have my last drink at least 1 hour before bedtime.
6. Drinking Alcohol Before Bedtime. Studies show that drinking alcohol close to bedtime can induce snoring in someone who doesn’t normally snore and increase the risk of obstructive sleep apnea.
Now that you know what not to do, I have compiled 7 foods to eat for quality restorative sleep:
1. Passion Fruit
I have mentioned that my mother is a genius and here is another reason why. Mother would infuse her teas with fruits; her favorite was lemon and passion fruit. I loved my mother’s teas. Because passion fruit is not readily available everywhere, I usually opt for passion fruit tea. Tea contains alkaloids that have a sedative effect that is great before bedtime. This helps me sleep more deeply and soundly.
2. Chamomile Tea
I am sure that this tea doesn’t come as a surprise; chamomile tea contains glycine that helps relax nerves and muscles and induces a mild sedative effect. I love to take mine straight about 90 minutes before bed.
I like quick and easy meals with foods that are full of nutrients. Hummus is a great way to give your body tryptophan and stave off hunger before bedtime. Hummus and carrots, or celery, or even whole-grain crackers are great guilt-free snacks for great sleep.
The natural sugar in honey helps transport tryptophan to the brain without spiking your insulin level, this makes it an excellent carbohydrate choice.
5. Leaf Vegetables
Vegetables like spinach, kale, lettuce and mustard greens are great sources of calcium and have wonderful sedative properties.
Walnuts and almonds are excellent sources of tryptophan, magnesium and natural sources of melatonin. This helps you sleep faster and decreases any restlessness in your legs.
Fish like salmon, tuna and halibut are dense with B6 vitamins, which as mentioned, help make serotonin.
For the best sleep, it is great to eat snacks/food that contain both protein and carbohydrates with a low glycemic index and keep your evening snacking to at least an hour before bedtime.
Here are some examples of great evening snacks:
- Cereal with nut milk
- Almond butter and apples slices
- Cheese or hummus on whole grain crackers, apples, carrots, or celery sticks
The takeaway here is that sleep and nutrition go hand in hand and if you embrace these nighttime nutritional habits and shoot for 7-8 hours of sleep, you will experience the gift of unlimited amounts of daytime energy and optimum overall health.
Do you know any tips to ensure quality sleep? Share in the comments below.
Kavata Kithome is an advocate for living your best life, full of health and longevity. While working closely with gym owners and personal trainers, she was able to sculpt a well-rounded view of fitness and understands how to incorporate it with a healthy balanced diet. She is a regular contributor to the One More Step Lifestyle brand.
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