Diet And Sleep: The Big Picture
Its natural to want to find a food to make you sleepy or the single best food for sleep, but its important to be realistic. Sleep is a complicated process affected by many things including mental health, light exposure, and underlying physical issues.
Diet is also multifaceted. It isnt just one food instead, it is cumulative, affected by when, what, and how much we eat throughout a day and over weeks, months, and years. Individuals can have distinct reactions to different diets, making it hard to generalize about the perfect diet for everyone.
Because of these factors, its hard to design research studies that provide conclusive answers about the optimal food for sleep. While its tempting to try to draw hard-and-fast conclusions from individual studies, the science doesnt support broad extrapolations.
Given the complexity of diet and sleep, for many people it may be more meaningful to focus on the big picture healthy sleep and diet habits rather than on individual foods and drinks.
Considerations When Choosing Foods To Help You Sleep
Eating specific foods is just one strategy to help yourself get to sleep. However, eating particular foods — no matter how rich in sleep-promoting nutrients — is unlikely to help if you have poor sleep hygiene or an unrelated sleep disorder. Instead, combine your sleep-promoting diet with behavioral changes that help you get to sleep. Of particular importance is following a regular routine every night. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day, even on the weekends. This allows your body to adapt, promoting a regular circadian rhythm.
If your inability to get to sleep or stay asleep persists even after making behavioral changes and eating foods that help you sleep, it may be time to see a doctor. Visiting a sleep specialist for a sleep study can help you determine whether a sleep disorder or some other physiological condition is preventing you from getting the sleep you need.
Milk: That Glass Of Warm Milk Our Parents Gave Us As Children Before Bed Actually Did Do Something Good
Dairy is a natural source of the sleep-inducing tryptophan amino acid. Tryptophan helps you sleep by boosting melatonin, the chemical that promotes a regular sleep cycle. And aside from the science, warm milk has traditionally been enjoyed before bed as it can provide a calming effect. If youre tossing and turning, unable to sleep, try a glass of warm milk to help you settle.
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Do Natural Sleep Aids Have Side Effects
Some natural sleep aids can have side effects. For example, certain herbs or dietary supplements may cause allergic reactions in some people. Melatonin may cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, and excessive sleepiness . Drug interactions can also occur, which is why it’s important to check with your doctor before taking any new supplements.
Green Tea Is A Drink That May Help You Sleep
Enjoying 2 or 3 cups of refreshing green tea throughout the day could help you get to sleep at night.
Scientists have found that compounds in green tea affects serotonin levels and help to reduce stress.
Because green tea contains caffeine, it may not be the best drink to consume before going to bed. However, the journal Nutrients reported in 2017 that green tea with reduced caffeine content helps to improve sleep quality and also has an anti-stress effect.
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Hot Peppers & Spicy Foods
Spicy foods are a go-to when it comes to revving up your metabolism, but they’re also ruining your chances of falling asleep. Spices like cayenne and Tabasco get their metabolism-boosting properties from capsaicin, which can trigger heartburn in sensitive individuals. Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, explains this compound gets your blood flowing as well, “Its thermogenic properties can increase the body’s core temperature.” Since your core temperature naturally decreases as you get ready to sleep, raising it can cause you to feel more awake and struggle with staying asleep.
Fatty Foods Can Harm Your Sleep
This tip doesn’t rely on when you eat. If your overall diet relies on fatespecially saturated fatfor nutrition, you may be depriving yourself of good, quality sleep. When your daily nutrition includes a high percentage of saturated fat, you spend less time in the stage of deep sleep known as slow wave sleep.
This is the non-REM sleep you get earlier in your sleep cycle, and it matters. Your brain re-enforces things you learn during the day while you sleep. Studies have shown that missing out on slow wave sleep makes you remember less, which makes learning more difficult.
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Medications May Contain Caffeine
Over-the-counter and prescription drugs that may have caffeine in them include pain relievers, weight loss pills, diuretics, and cold medicines. These and other medications may have as much or even more caffeine than a cup of coffee. Check the label of nonprescription drugs or the prescription drug information sheet to see if your medicine interferes with sleep or can cause insomnia.
Reach For Some Walnuts
Walnuts are good for heart health and add crunch and a dose of beneficial fat to all sorts of dishes, but theyve also been found, in research, to contain their own form of melatonin, a hormone that helps our bodies regulate a healthy sleep-wake cycle. Try snacking on a small handful about 20 minutes before bed to help you relax and reach a deeper state of restful sleep, says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of Belly Fat Diet For Dummies.
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Beware Of Hidden Caffeine
It’s no surprise that an evening cup of coffee might disrupt your sleep. But don’t forget about less obvious caffeine sources, like chocolate, cola, and tea. Even decaf coffee has a trace of it — but not enough to be a problem. For better sleep, cut all caffeine from your diet 4 to 6 hours before bedtime.
Honey: Honey Helps You Sleep Because It Contains Glucose Which Lowers Levels Of Orexin A Neurotransmitter That Raises Your Level Of Alertness
One teaspoon of honey before bed is also proven to help re-stock our liver with glycogen or the fuel we need to make it through the night without food. If you can make it raw honey, thats a plus!
Tryptophan is an essential sleep-inducing amino acid present in some foods . The natural sugars in honey also encourage sleep by carrying tryptophan through the blood stream and into the brain.
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Cereal With Skim Milk
Although it’s traditionally considered a breakfast option, a low-sugar cereal paired with skim milk is a perfect bedtime snack. Milk contains the amino acid tryptophan, which serves as a precursor for the hormone serotonin, a sleep-inducing agent.
And according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating a high-glycemic carb like jasmine rice 4 hours before bed can cut the amount of time it takes to fall asleep in half compared to a low-GI food. This is because high-glycemic carbs, which spike insulin and blood sugar more quickly than low-GI foods, can help increase the ratio of tryptophan circulating in your blood by siphoning off other amino acids to your muscles. This lets the tryptophan outcompete those other amino acids for entrance into your brain, allowing more of the sedative to signal it’s time to put your head to the pillow.
Warm Milk To Help You Fall Asleep
Drinking a cup of warm milk before bedtime may help you get to sleep quicker if you feel awake in the evening.
As already mentioned in this article, milk contains tryptophan which helps boost levels of serotonin. This process, in turn, helps produce the sleep-enhancing hormone melatonin.
However, some studies suggest that proteins in milk may hinder its ability to stimulate serotonin. So, should you drink warm milk before going to bed if you need to fall asleep fast?
Researchers have discovered that consuming high-carbohydrate foods and low-protein foods make tryptophan more accessible. This means that you can make your own sleep-enhancing drink by combining a cup of warm milk with a teaspoon of raw honey.
Learn about another scientifically proven drink that can help you fall asleep fast.
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Why You Need To Focus On Food Habits
For many things in life, habits are the key to success.
Thats because when you eat and what you eat each day that can help make a difference with managing insomnia.
So, if youre serious about foods to avoid when having insomnia, you need to look at your food habits.
For starters, you should identify the reasons you snack late at night.
Is it boredom, depression, stress or some other issue?
You can then work on developing food habits that can help you avoid food-related insomnia:
- plan your meals
1. Digestive Diseases Statistics for the United States, NIH website
2. Association between digestive symptoms and sleep disturbance: a cross-sectional community-based study, BMC Gastroenterol. 2019 19: 34.
3. Definition & Facts of Indigestion, NIH website
4. Facts & Statistics, ADAA website
5. Globally, 1 in 13 suffers from anxiety, 2012, Futurity.org.
6. The 5 Worst Foods for Your Anxiety, Healthline.com
7. The Differential Diagnosis of Food Intolerance, Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2009 106: 359370.
8. 12 Surprising Sources of Caffeine, 2015, Health.com
9. Sweet Dreams: How Sugar Impacts Your Sleep, National Sleep Foundation website
10. 6 Foods That Cause Inflammation, Healthline.com
11. 7 Ways Inflammation Is Affecting Your Sleep, 2018, Bustle.com
12. Tryptophan Intake in the US Adult Population Is Not Related to Liver or Kidney Function but Is Associated with Depression and Sleep Outcomes, J Nutr. 2016, 146:2609S-2615S.
Try Tart Cherry Juice
This refreshing juice contains melatonin, flavonoids and other compounds thought to promote sleep. In a study in the American Journal of Therapeutics, a small sample of older adults with insomnia who were given 8 ounces of tart cherry juice, twice a day for two weeks, slept an average of 84 minutes longer per night , says nutritionist Kayleen St. John, RD, adjunct professor of nutrition in food studies at New York University inNew York City.
Other study data has shown a significant elevation in melatonin in groups consuming cherry juice, leading to increased total sleep time. This isnt to say we should all increase our juice intake , but consider adding tart cherry juice to a smoothie, or having a small serving in the evening to see how it affects your sleep.
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Almonds And Almond Butter
This is considered the top food for combating insomnia as its full of magnesium and is also rich in potassium, a sleep-promoting tryptophan!
There are some ways one can utilise almond butter, including using it as a dip with fruit or even as a sauce in noodles! Whichever way you choose to consume it, Food for insomnia cure trust me when I say youll love it!
Heartburn Trouble Avoid Acidic Food
Ever wake up with a burning sensation in the back of your throat? That could be heartburn and there’s a link between heartburn and sleep deprivation. Some foods are more likely to provoke heartburn than others. Highly acidic foods count among them. To prevent heartburn, avoid these foods close to bedtime:
- Citrus fruits
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Kerry’s Advice To This Client Was:
- Swap sugary cereal for a wholegrain alternative, topped with milk and a sliced banana.
- Choose proteins that are rich in an amino acid called tryptophan. This helps boost the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Chicken and turkey, milk and dairy, and nuts and seeds are all good choices.
- Combine these with a carbohydrate-rich food, such as rice, pasta or potatoes, which helps the body to get the most benefits from tryptophan. Try a chicken and noodle stir-fry or similar.
- Aim to eat your main meal earlier in the evening the act of eating pushes up the bodys core temperature, and this can disrupt sleep. Eat your evening meal at least four hours before retiring for the day. A glass of warm milk with a cracker or oatcake can also be useful before bed.
- Reduce your caffeine intake gradually. Try decaffeinated coffee or caffeine-free drinks, like red bush tea. Have your last caffeine-containing drink no later than midday this is because the time taken for the body to eliminate the caffeine you consume is roughly five to six hours.
- Build relaxation and exercise into the day to help manage stress. A short walk or some light stretching in the evening can be a helpful way to unwind before bed.
- Avoid using a computer late in the evening as the light from the screen can have a stimulatory effect.
- Take a warm bath an hour or two before bedtime studies suggest this may improve sleep quality.
Eat This: Food For Good Sleep
Do you wake up excited when youve slept through the night? Or maybe get your rush from thinking that youre able to function on 4 hours a night? Countless times Ive heard it said that you can sleep when youre dead so carry on partying, drinking, staying up late and LIVING. However, according to the experts, thats rather unwise advice. What Ive dug up about sleep for this episode might show you that sleep, next to healthy eating of course, is the best way to live a long and healthy life.
Did you now that youre more susceptible to pain when sleep deprived. And you may or may not have noticed that youre more likely to make unhealthy food choices, without deep, uninterrupted sleep. I read that the fountain of youth comes from deep delta wave sleep, so thats what Im going for, with a side of support for my immunity. And for all my loyal listeners who just want to s.l.e.e.p, this is for you.
Today on EAT THIS with Lianne, lets talk sleep.
I spoke with Sleep expert Alanna McGinn to share her wisdom, but first, you need to know this.
I brought a sleep expert on todays episode because, well shes the expert! Listen to the episode for my Q& A with Alanna McGinn as she shares her best tips for great sleep.
Valerian Tea Can Make You Sleepy
Valerian root is used as a sedative and anti-anxiety treatment, and is a common ingredient in products promoted as mild sedatives and sleep aids. This herb improves the quality of sleep and helps fall asleep faster. Dried roots are prepared as teas or tinctures, and dried plant materials and extracts are put into capsules or tablets.
The recommendation is not to use valerian with other sleep aids. Start with the lowest dose, then increase over several days time. Valerian is considered safe to take for four to six weeks.
The 10 Best Foods For Fighting Insomnia
15 February, 2019
Do you find it harder and harder to get to sleep? Do you wake up in the early hours of the morning and cant get back to sleep? Maybe youre suffering from insomnia. If so, there are some changes in your diet that can help you. Here are the best foods for fighting insomnia! Get ready to rest like a baby every night.
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Aged Cured Fermented And Smoked Food
These foods have high amounts of tyramine, a byproduct of the break down of the amino acid tyrosine. Tyramine can trigger the brain to release norepinephrine, a stimulant that can increase brain activity and delay sleep.
Theres also a lot of histamine, a neurotransmitter that can cause anxiety and insomnia in some people.
Some foods to avoid: cheese, pickles, salami, sauerkraut, cured and smoked meats
Why We Worry About Foods To Avoid When Having Insomnia
Weve all been there at some point, feeling miserable and wondering which foods to avoid when fighting insomnia.
Perhaps, it started with you having a hard time falling asleep and getting the late-night munchies. You reach for your favorite snack, a bowl of chocolate ice cream, and afterwards youre evening more wired up.
Or maybe, you got home late, reheated a quick bowl of delicious chili, and went to bed anticipating a great night of Zs. Instead, your chest lights up with heart burn causing you to toss and turn for hours.
In either case, its all the same you ate something that came back to haunt your sleep.
Every night, 1 in 3 Americans struggle with sleep for various reasons and wake up sleep deprived. Eating the wrong things at night is the culprit for some.
Practicing good sleep hygiene is essential to quality sleep and that certainly includes what you feed your body.
As delicious as that bowl of chocolate ice cream or chili might seem, you may be sabotaging your efforts to get decent sleep.
Bottom line, whether youre an occasional or frequent insomniac, what you eat in the evening can make a bad situation worse if youre not careful.
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Invest In A Heating/cooling Mattress Pad
The chiliPad is a hydro-powered mattress pad with a thermal regulating control unit. It allows me to set the mattress temperature to keep me cool all night. I set the temperature for 69° F and it will circulate water at that temperature to keep me cool. Ryan and I both use this and have enjoyed staying cool all night long.
At first I thought it was a little indulgent, yet now we see the value in it. We sleep well , but we also dont need to crank the air down so much at night.
Now, what works for me, may not work for you. I’d love to hear your personal experience with foods and sleeping tricks that work for you.