You Are What You Eat or How Food Affects Sleep

Even little kids know that drinking coffee is not going to help you fall asleep (rather the opposite), but having a glass of warm milk is a great choice before the bedtime. However, is there more for this connection between the food and drinks intake and the quality of the night’s rest? It turns out, there is a strong link between what you eat and drink and the way you sleep. Keep that in mind next time you will be choosing what to cook for dinner.

Food

First, you need to remember that it is not the best idea to go to bed either full or with a completely empty stomach. Both scenarios will make it hard for you to fall asleep, so always remember to have a nice light dinner maximum 2-3 hours before you go to bed in case you want to have a great night’s rest.

What to eat:

  • Kiwi: along with the fact that kiwis are generally good for your health thanks to the vitamins that are found in them, it turns out that these fruit are also beneficial for your sleep. One study found that kiwis contain serotonin, which is a hormone that help us sleep, so eating a couple of them will benefit your REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep.
  • Bananas: these bright-yellow fruit contain another “sleep hormone” – melatonin, so they are often called the natural sleep aid. If you want to fall asleep faster and sleep better, eat a banana before you go to bed.
  • Almonds: these nuts increase your magnesium level, and the science tells that reduced magnesium intake can make it more difficult to fall asleep.
  • Walnuts: first, they contain melatonin, just like bananas. However, they also are a great source of tryptophan, which regulates the production of serotonin and melatonin.
  • Honey: this sweet food suppresses the release of orexin (it keeps the body awake) and stimulates the release of melatonin. Your grandma was right when she told you to drink a cup of milk with honey before bed!
  • Turkey: another tryptophan rich food, which will benefit your sleep.
  • Cereal: just make sure it’s low-sugar. In combination with skim milk, cereal will help your body to release the sleep hormones faster.
  • Sweet potatoes: they contain the sleep-beneficial complex carbohydrates, as well as muscle-relaxing elements. Be sure to include sweet potatoes to your weekly dinner menu if you want to make your sleep better.
  • Lettuce: it contains lactucarium, also known as “lettuce opium”. You can probably guess its effects on the human brain from its second name. Some lettuce for dinner will make you more relaxed and dizzy.
  • Fish: tuna and salmon are rich with vitamin B6, which is necessary for your body to create melatonin and serotonin.
  • Shrimps: these little sea creatures also have tryptophan in them, so including them to your diet will surely benefit your sleep.
  • Low-fat yoghurt: Just another great source of tryptophan.

What to avoid:

  • Fat foods: it is hard for your stomach to digest them, so your body will spend more time and energy on it, instead of focusing on relaxation and sleeping.
  • Dark chocolate: a rather unpleasant surprise. It turns out that chocolate also contains caffeine, just like coffee or tea. Thus, it would be better to avoid eating dark chocolate if you are planning to have a good night’s sleep.
  • High-sugar cereal: the more sugar you have in your blood, the worse you sleep. Try not to increase the sugar levels by eating sweet foods before sleep in case you want to benefit your sleep.
  • Spicy food: really hot foods can cause heartburn, which will be a great obstacle between you and your healthy sleep.

Drinks

The major rule for the drinks is not to drink too much, as frequent journeys to the bathroom during the night will indeed not be beneficial for your good night’s rest.

What to drink:

  • Milk: this beverage (as well as any other dairy product, actually) contains the amino acid L-tryptophan, which is great for making you to sleep faster and making our sleep better. Drinking milk an hour before bedtime is a great decision for a good sleep. Good news for those of you who do not like warm milk: the temperature does not affect the amount of L-tryptophan in the drink.
  • Chamomile tea: this particular kind of tea helps you relax and feel calmer due to the release of glycine. Drink chamomile tea before you go to bed, and you will sleep like a baby.
  • Passionfruit tea: thanks to the Harman alkaloids, which can be found in passionfruit, it becomes easier to fall asleep and have a quality rest at night.
  • Cherry juice: cherries are full with melatonin, the “sleeping hormone”, so they act like a natural sleep medication if you drink cherry juice or eat some berries before the bedtime.

What to avoid:

  • Coffee: Caffeine that is in it blocks the receptors in your brain that detect the mediators of tiredness, so you feel like you don’t want to sleep anymore. So drinking coffee is definitely not the greatest decision before the bedtime.
  • Alcohol: it does help you fall asleep faster, but does it really benefit your sleep in general? The right answer is no. Drinking alcoholic beverages before sleep will keep your mind alarmed and prevent it from falling into deep stages of sleep. It means that you will wake up tired and unrested (and maybe even a little hangover) the next morning. Keep in mind: in case you want to have a great night’s rest, say no to the glass of wine during the dinner.
  • Energy drinks: again, obviously. They were designed in the first place to keep you awake, so it is rather clear that it would not be very wise to drink them before bedtime. However, they are still worth to mention.
  • Soda: caffeine that stimulates the nervous system is present not only in coffee, but in the soda drinks as well. Keep that in mind when you are choosing a beverage for your dinner. Moreover, it is good to know that caffeine is active during 8-14 hours after the intake, so be sure to avoid consuming caffeine drinks in the afternoon.