Health experts often debate about the best way to lose weight and maintain good health; however, there is at least one area of agreement: sleep is essential. Quality sleep is important not just for weight loss, but for keeping your bodily systems operating, from cognitive functions to disease immunity. What you may not realize is that what you eat can affect how you sleep -- some foods can help to improve your sleep, and some foods can make it worse. Here's a guide to what foods will help you snooze and what foods will keep you up at night.
Eating before sleeping: What will help you sleep?
Some people avoid eating before they go to bed in an effort to lose weight or sleep better. However, not eating can be more disruptive to sleep. A light snack made with the right ingredients and kept under 200 calories may help you sleep better:
- Foods containing tryptophan, an amino acid found in many foods, can aid you in falling asleep. You may have heard that turkey contains tryptophan, and it does, so eat up -- but carbohydrates help your brain absorb tryptophan, so you may want to have that slice of turkey on a cracker. Other tryptophan sources include eggs and milk as well as bananas, nuts and honey. It can take about an hour for the tryptophan to reach the brain, so allow some time to snack before bed.
- Casein, a protein found in cheese, can also help you sleep. A small serving of cottage cheese or ham and cheese roll up is a perfect snack. Other dairy products, like high-protein Greek yogurt, can also benefit your sleep, as they contain both casein and tryptophan.
- Bananas with peanut butter is another good pre-sleep combination. Bananas are good for digestive health and also contain magnesium, which can prevent muscle cramps that can interfere with sleep while the tryptophan in peanut butter can also work its magic.
- Cherries and cherry juice contain melatonin, a sleep-regulating hormone. Studies have found cherries to be useful for older people who experience trouble sleeping.
Foods to avoid before bedtime
Just as some foods can help you sleep, some foods can prevent you from sleeping well:
- Drinking coffee before bed is not a good idea, as the caffeine can keep you awake. Also avoid other caffeinated beverages, like tea and soda. Another one to watch out for is chocolate -- believe it or not, chocolate contains caffeine, and eating it before bed could keep you up.
- Many people like to have a glass of wine in the evening to relax, but alcohol can actually interrupt sleep. So while you may drift off initially, you may also wake up periodically.
- Heavy meals, especially with lots of fat, may make your digestive system work overtime, keeping you up or making you feel too full and uncomfortable to sleep. Large meals may even cause heartburn, further disrupting your sleep patterns.
- Spicy foods and some acidic foods have also been found to be problematic, as they can cause digestive issues that disrupt sleep.
Diet plays a strong role in your sleep quality, so make sure that you never go to bed too hungry or too full. Snack on the right things to help improve your sleep quality.
CATEGORIES: Tips, Food, Sleep, Advice, Eating, Sleep Better