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Eat your way to a better sleep

Making meal choices based on calorie counting or nutritional value will go some way in keeping your weight in check.

But have you ever considered that the food you choose might also impact the quality of your sleep?

The three meals you choose each day – as well as any snacks you throw into your daily diet – go a long way to impacting your health as a whole and not just your waistline!

When it comes to making good food choices, your body’s need for a good night’s sleep should be on your mind.

Let’s face it – it should go without saying that scoffing a pizza before retiring for the evening isn’t exactly a recipe for a restful night.

To make sure you’re consuming balanced meals that will benefit you all day and well into the night, there are certain foods which you should go out of your way to consume – as well as some that you should avoid altogether.

Eat right to sleep tonight!

You might not think about it while eating your lunch in broad daylight, but nutrition plays an essential role in our sleep. If you want to align your diet to have the most optimal sleep, aim to eat more foods or drinks that contain serotonin, a serenity-boosting neurotransmitter.

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Add these items to your grocery list

  • Herbal tea: Sit back and start sipping! You can’t go wrong with herbal tea such as chamomile or peppermint. Although most herbal teas don’t contain caffeine, some do so check the label before you buy it. These teas are a natural remedy known to help you relax.
  • Warm milk: If that’s not your cup of tea, why not try some warm skimmed milk. Having a comforting drink like this will encourage the onset of sleep. After all, there’s a reason parents heat up a bottle before putting a baby to bed – hopefully you’ll be sleeping like a baby in no time!
  • Nuts, seeds and bananas: Not only are these healthy snack foods easy to munch on, they’re also proven to be rich in magnesium - the most powerful relaxation mineral available.
  • Good quality carbohydrates: We’re talking wholegrain pasta, brown rice and chickpeas to accompany a hearty dinner. Pairing these wholegrains with your evening meal is a good foundation for sleep, as it triggers the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that makes you feel sleepy. 

Trust us – you don’t want to be reaching for these munchies before midnight

Just as there are foods that help you sleep, there are others out there that will work against you and can be detrimental when it’s time to get some shut-eye:

  • Alcohol: You might think that downing a bit of booze before bedtime might put you to sleep, but research has busted that myth. While you might feel a little tired after an evening wine, alcohol actually reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and is disruptive to your overall night’s rest. The more a person drinks before bed, the stronger the sleep disruption. So do yourself a favour and pass on that matching wine with dinner.
  • Caffeinated beverages: Caffeine is a drug that acts as a stimulant and will affect you both mentally and physically. If you’re slugging back coffee, soft drinks or even eating chocolate, you’re consuming caffeine and you might find it harder to sleep. Caffeine can disrupt your digestive process – and it’s also has the added side effect of waking you up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom!  
  • Foods high in saturated fat: Here’s another reason to put down the fast food – research shows that not only will foods high in saturated fat make you pile on the kilos, it will also impact your sleep cycle due to its impact on your digestion.  
  • Spicy foods: Any foods which can cause reflux or indigestion may also interrupt your sleep or make it near impossible to rest. Spicy food contains capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers and this affects sleep via changes in body temperature.

Now that you’ve got the naughty and nice list for your sleep-inducing diet, you might want to do some further reading. While a diet overhaul can benefit your rest, there are other things you can do to ensure you are well rested – firstly, you can read our eBook ‘8 ways to sleep better tonight’ which is jam-packed with advice that will ensure you’re sleeping soundly as soon as possible.

There’s also something else you should keep in mind: There’s not much benefit in making optimal food choices if you’re overindulging on them.

Eating too much can not only lead to weight gain due to a blow out in calorie consumption, but it can be detrimental in getting a good night’s sleep. When you sleep, you’re actually allowing your body to go to work and digest everything it’s consumed – so if you gorge too much throughout the day you’ll be in for an interrupted night as your body literally tries to stomach the day’s takings!

The lesson? Cut down to healthy portion sizes and eat right to sleep tonight.

Interestingly, if you’ve had a good night’s rest, you’re more likely to be happier and less hungry – resulting in better food choices the next day and you can enjoy a cycle of good food – and great sleep!

 Is food just a small part of your sleep issues?

While food does have some impact on the quality and quantity of sleep we get, sleep issues can have a lot of contributing causes. If you are having issues with your sleep, the tips in this article will help, but you may want to look into other factors affecting your rest. If this is you, find out what might be affecting your sleep by taking our free online sleep assessment or order a home sleep test kit.

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