Does My Diet Affect My Sleep?

Food Diet and Sleeping

It may seem strange at first that your diet has a direct effect on the quality of sleep that you get. However, studies have shown that what you eat does impact the quality and duration of your sleep. So, this means that you will need to know what to eat and what to avoid so you can get the best night’s sleep.

Why Foods Affect your Sleep

Just as food gives you energy to get through your day, so they affect your ability to sleep. Depending on what the food contains and how much you consume, the effect can be considerable. You may have noticed how your dreams are affected by the foods that you consume. This also means that the overall quality of your sleep is affected as well. Food can be broken down into proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and sugars with other elements involved. You’ll want to consume plenty of proteins during the day so that your muscles can recover and grow. Slow-burning carbohydrates are also very good in helping provide the energy you need during the day as well as fats. Sugars, particularly processed sugars should be kept to a minimum.

Ingredients that Help You Sleep

The good news is that there are a number of foods that will help you sleep, particularly those that contain tryptophan. This substance which is best known for being in turkey helps your body produce serotonin which helps you feel more calm and relaxed. Such conditions are perfect for trying to fall asleep. In addition to tryptophan, you will also benefit from meals that contain the right type of carbohydrates or in simply receiving the tryptophan at the pharmaceutical-grade level. Studies have shown that even chronic insomniacs responded quickly to the introduction of tryptophan into the diet. You can avoid the need for prescription-strength tryptophan if you simply combine it with the right type of carbs for your meals. This is because the tryptophan has to make its way to your brain in order to have the calming effect. That can be difficult because amino acids are often on their way and they block out the tryptophan. However, if you consume healthy carbohydrates, that will compete with the amino acids and allow free passage of the tryptophan to the brain. This is because the carbs will trigger an insulin response which moves the amino acids into the muscles instead of the brain.

Best Low-Protein / High-Carb Foods to Produce Serotonin

There are a number of foods that you can consume which will help your body produce enough serotonin to help you fall asleep faster and deeper. The good news is that the foods listed here are excellent for the body and you do not need to consume that many to produce serotonin.

  • Whole Grain Breads, Cereal, & Crackers
  • Whole Wheat Pasta
  • Brown and Wild Rice
  • Oats
  • Bananas, Grapes, Papaya
  • Mangoes, Oranges, Grapefruit, and Plums
  • Spinach, Yams, Sweet and White Potatoes
  • Corn, Winter Squash, Green Peas
  • Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Kale
  • Asparagus, Cauliflower, Sugar Snap Peas
  • Winter Squash, Pumpkin, Celery, and Beets
  • Fat Free or Low Fat Milk, Ice Cream, and Yogurt
Consuming these foods will help your body produce the serotonin needed to get a good night’s sleep. You can include these foods when eating your final meal of the day. Plus, when consumed with plenty of fiber it will create a fuller sensation that will help you avoid snacks. You may also want to drink plenty of water so that you can flush out any toxins in the body, but not too much before you go to bed. Otherwise, you might find yourself waking up at night to relieve your bladder.

Foods Not to Eat

As you should consume the right foods to help you sleep, there are other foods that will help keep you awake at night. Here, you should eat these foods in the morning or early afternoon so that they will be out of your system by the time you are ready to fall asleep. Caffeine: Foods or beverages with caffeine should be avoided, particularly starting in the late afternoon to evening hours. As a general rule you should not consume caffeine after 3pm if you plan on going to be by 10pm. If you are sensitive to caffeine, then you should not consume it after your lunch break. However, you can experiment with the time to see what the right balance is for you and your needs. Large Meals: How much you eat will also determine your ability to sleep. While many people feel drowsy after consuming a large meal, in many cases sleep does not follow. This is because when you lie down the chances are strong that you feel uncomfortably full and not be able to sleep. This is especially true if you develop gas or heartburn which can really keep you awake and make trying to sleep even more uncomfortable. It is recommended that your last meal before bed be less than 600 calories and consists of a low protein, high carb foods at least three hours before you go to bed. Liquids: If you do not want to wake up in the middle of the night and run to the bathroom to relieve your bladder, then you’ll want to not drink any fluids a good 90 minutes before going to bed. If you need to take a medication before going to bed, take small sips instead. Generally speaking, it is far better to drink plenty of water at dinner at least three hours before going to bed so that you are fully hydrated. Alcohol: This may seem counter-intuitive because drinking alcohol produces a drowsy effect and can actually help you fall asleep. However, the sleep it produces is lighter and you are far more likely to wake up more frequently. Alcohol is not a sleeping pill and should not be used in such a manner. However, if it is consumed in moderation and well before going to bed it can help create a relaxing effect.

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