How Good Nutrition Can Aid Sleep
How many hours of good quality sleep do you get each night?
What we eat affects our health, which in turn affects our sleep. Ana Krieger, Medical Director of the Centre for Sleep Medicine says, “Eating healthy and allowing the body to absorb proper nutrients provides the brain with the chemical environment that it needs to produce the neurotransmitters that it needs to maintain adequate sleep. The nutrients we get from food serve as the building blocks for other minerals and proteins that are needed to create the amino acids that are involved in sleep.”
Most nutritionists recommend eating our main meal of the day at lunch time and having snacks which encourage sleep before bedtime. These could include a banana which contains serotonin, turkey which has tryptophan or berries which have melatonin, all of which help prepare us for sleep.
What to Avoid
It’s obvious that we should avoid stimulating foods for a couple of hours before we go to bed. Sugars and caffeine are the worst culprits as they not only put us on a ‘high’, delaying our usual bed time, but they affect our sleep when we eventually get there. Caffeine remains in our system for up to 6 hours after consumption.
Alcohol is another no-no. Not only is it lacking in nutritional value, it disturbs overall sleep quality. A glass of wine a few hours before bedtime is fine but the closer to sleep we get, the more likely it is to disturb our sleep patterns.
Other foods to avoid are those which can cause indigestion. These vary from person to person but often include spicy foods and foods with onions and peppers. One study found that eating a meal which is high in fat is not a recipe for a good night’s sleep. Whereas meals with a high intake of carbohydrate are more likely to produce a peaceful night. However, it’s recommended that you eat as much as four hours before you retire for the night.