Sleep is an integral part of your health. Without it, all the systems and functions in the body go awry. Think about it—when you go one night without proper sleep, how do you feel? Aside from being tired, you probably feel foggy in the brain and your attention span decreases drastically. These are just the symptoms you actually notice. Other changes are occurring within your body, such as the way it regulates blood sugar and changes in blood pressure.
As you can see, sleep is important. So, if you aren’t getting enough of it, you’ll want to take the necessary steps to improve it.
One way you can improve sleep is by making simple adjustments to your diet. You may not realize it, but your diet can play a huge part in many areas of health, including sleep. Therefore, the following diet changes can work wonders and will get you the peaceful night’s sleep you deserve.
Should You Eat and Drink before Bed?
Although it may be tempting to enjoy a big hearty meal before going to bed, it may not be the best idea. Yes, you may feel sleepy after eating a large meal, but being too full can interfere with falling asleep, and sleep quality through the night can be disrupted as the body works to digest. That being said, it is also not a good idea to go to bed hungry. An empty stomach can be distracting and make it more difficult to fall asleep. So, if you are feeling a little hungry before bedtime, try eating a light snack like a banana, yogurt, or small bowl of low-sugar cereal.
You do want to drink as much water as possible throughout the day as water can help minimize sleep disruption patterns. Be sure to drink the water during the day and not too close to bedtime or you may find yourself having to visit the bathroom a few times throughout the night.
Diet Changes for a Good Night’s Sleep
Sip your way to more sleep: Some experts recommend sipping on tart cherry juice prior to sleep. Tart cherries have high melatonin, which is a hormone responsible for sleep.
Eat on a schedule
By keeping asleep and eating journal, one patient found that they had to schedule when they could consume coffee along with when they should eat toast. By improving their eating schedule, they began sleeping much better.
For some, eating junk food, stress eating, or eating too much could contribute to sleep troubles. Therefore, making healthier food choices along with avoiding stress-eating can help improve sleep. Take a closer look at your food choices and see where you can begin to make healthier choices.
Watch your water intake
You can’t sleep well if you’re getting up numerous times a night to urinate. This is typically triggered by late-night drinking. Whether you’re drinking water, coffee, or tea, any liquid will have to be emptied from your bladder, and the closer to bedtime you drink, the more likely you will have to wake up to relieve yourself. Ensure you are giving yourself adequate time between drinking fluids and falling asleep to avoid getting up at night.
Skip Sugar and Caffeine
Everyone knows that drinking a cup of coffee in the morning can help wake you up, but what many seem to forget is that drinking it before bedtime will also keep you up. Because the body takes about six hours to metabolize caffeine, drinking a cup of joe is not recommended within several hours of your bedtime.
Other than caffeine, sugar has also been shown to create sleep problems in those who consume it before bedtime. A study by the University of California at San Francisco found that children with type 1 diabetes are more likely to have trouble sleeping if they have elevated blood sugar levels. Because of the energy boost that sugar gives, it is best to avoid it shortly before bedtime.
Diet-Induced Heartburn Can Keep You up at Night
Studies have shown that people with night-time gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) are more likely to have sleep problems and disorders than those without. These can include insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, and daytime sleepiness. Luckily, consuming the right foods can make a big difference in reducing the symptoms of heartburn. Reducing processed foods, fried, or high-fat meals especially close to bedtime will help to reduce the severity and frequency of heartburn.
Make Room for Milk
Having a warm glass of milk before bed to help you sleep isn’t just an old wives’ tale. It does have some truth behind it. According to a paper published in the journal Nutrition Research, there are certain nutrients in milk such as B vitamins and tryptophan that can act as natural sleep aids. To help your sleep patterns function normally, aim to consume three to four servings of dairy a day. These can be spread throughout the day but try to have one serving before bedtime.
Losing Weight Can Lead to Better Sleep
Losing weight can be good for overall health, but what many don’t know is that it can also be beneficial for a quality night of sleep. Studies have shown that a reduction in body fat, especially around the midsection is associated with better quality sleep. Those that have experienced a reduction in body fat have reported that they have had less problems such as sleep apnea, restlessness, and insomnia. So next time you think about reaching for that donut, think twice. It won’t just affect your waistline; it will help you sleep better too.
Sip a Soothing Drink
There have been mixed results in scientific data as to whether a warm soothing drink before bedtime helps with sleep quality. However, many swear by the soothing effects of chamomile tea, and it has been shown to reduce anxiety. A study published in the journal Emotion suggests that hot drinks could help people feel less lonely and more secure which are both factors that can help to contribute to a good night’s sleep.
According to research by scientists at Tufts University, peppermint tea may have an antiallergenic potential, meaning it can help with drifting off to sleep. It is also known to be a digestive aid, so if your stomach is upset at night, peppermint tea is an excellent choice to calm the stomach and help you drift off to sleep.
As you can see, what you eat or drink can either promote sleep or rob you of it. Therefore, taking a closer look at your diet and eating schedule could go a long way in improving your sleep.