We’ve all heard that age old saying ‘you are what you eat’. Recent research is actually beginning to prove that the food we put in our bodies directly affects how we feel, sleep, think and more. When it comes to picking foods that help you sleep, we did a little research and found some interesting tidbits.
Warm Milk + Turkey: We all hate to admit it, but sometimes mom was right. If you ever thought that drinking warm milk was a trick your mom used to get you to drink more of it that is only the half truth. Milk is rich in tryptophan which is a naturally occurring sleep-promoting amino acid. If you’re lactose intolerant go for some turkey, nuts and seeds or bananas.
Carb It Up: There are tons of reports and recommendations that carbohydrates should be consumed in moderation, but the right carbs are actually good for you. In fact, they can actually help you sleep. You can get a quick boost of tryptophan by pairing carbohydrate-rich foods with complimentary dairy foods. A few late night snacks could be a bowl of cereal and milk, yogurt and crackers or go French and have some bread and cheese.
Flip-Flop: Most Americans are accustomed to eating their heaviest meal in the evening. There are a few reasons why you might want to flip-flop that filling evening meal to a morning meal. We all know that high-fat foods can add a few pounds, crank up cholesterol and more, but did you know that they also disrupt your sleep cycle? Heavy meals trigger digestion which can leave you with an overly full feeling, indigestion, stomach aches and more. Some studies show that people who eat their heaviest meal in the morning followed by a moderate size lunch and light dinner actually sleep better.
Hide + Seek: I don’t think there is a single morning that I can go without stopping at Starbucks, but caffeine can also pop up in other unsuspecting foods and drinks. Nothing’s better than a nice cup of hot cocoa on a cold night before going to bed, but did you know caffeine is hiding in that steaming mug? Even if you have a cup of decaffeinated coffee or tea, you’re still getting some caffeine. Try avoiding all caffeine at least four to six hours before you go to bed.
Here’s another caffeine hiding spot you might not have known about. Medicine! That’s right – some over-the-counter and prescription drugs contain caffeine. These include some pain relievers, weight loss pills, diuretics and cold medicines. Believe it or not, some of these have as much or more caffeine than a cup of coffee. Always check with your pharmacist if you suspect something is affecting your sleep.
Nightcaps: I’ve always wondered why they’re called nightcaps, especially now that we know they are anything but helpful. Sure alcohol will help you fall asleep faster, but you won’t sleep better. Even if you get a full eight hours of sleep, you can wake up feeling as if you only got four. If you are enjoying a few drinks, balance each drink with a glass of water to dilute the alcohol’s effects.
Some Like It Hot: Some people love spicy food and can eat it any time of day. If you’re one who experiences heartburn at night after a spicy meal, this is your sign to adjust your eating habits. If you just can’t say no to a spicy craving, make sure you finish it at least four hours before bedtime.
Uh-Oh Paleos: If you’re part of the Paleo diet crew or prefer a diet high in protein, you might not be sleeping as well as you could. It takes longer and it’s harder for our bodies to digest protein. For an easy and effective snack, choose a glass of warm milk or some crackers to help you drift away.
Put the Glass Down: It’s important to stay hydrated during the day, however, at the end of the day, starting to slow down your fluid intake before bed will actually help you sleep better. Why? You’re eliminating the need for midnight bathroom breaks.
What are some of your tips or tricks to get a better night’s sleep?