One thing that people who suffer from sleep-deprivation don’t realize is that it is what you do during the day that actually impacts your sleep. It is not just that you aren’t sleeping.
Symptoms of sleep deprivation include moodiness, lack of focus, lack of motivation, difficulty remembering things, a short temper and anxiety. All of this can lead to insomnia which chronically affects as many as 10% of the population and intermittently may affect nearly 35%. While practicing mindfulness, routine, and overall health all play a critical role in getting the quality sleep you need, your diet is also a huge contributor.
Your diet helps your mind to regulate and stabilize the chemical and hormonal actions that your body uses to control your metabolism, mind, sleep, and overall health. Part of maintaining a healthy diet is managing your snack consumption, or more, what you are putting in your body during the day and before bed to help you sleep.
What to think about with a bedtime snack.
You’ve likely heard that eating before bed will only give you energy, but it’s all about what you are eating rather than simply eating. Good bedtime snacks will not only satiate a grumbling stomach but will also provide nutrition in the form of complex carbohydrates, calcium and protein. In addition, foods that help your body produce and regulate serotonin, such as tryptophan, which aids in the sleep process are particularly helpful.
Foods to avoid before bedtime
The foods most people love to eat before bed are probably the worst for you. Chips, sweets (yes, chocolate), and alcohol are all bad for the body when it comes to your sleep.
The thing about sugar that most people don’t understand is that artificial sweeteners may actually be worse for you than pure sugar. From reports of increased cravings to your body’s response (overproduction of insulin) having sweeteners of any kind can make it difficult to sleep. In addition, high-fat foods can leave your stomach grumbling as it takes longer to digest.
But, why not alcohol? After all, alcohol has helped you fall asleep before, right? Well, yes and no. You see the body has four cycles of sleep, all of which are important and do different things from regulating hormones to organizing your memories, repairing your body, and helping to improve creativity. How alcohol can hurt your sleep is by preventing you from getting the deep sleep you need.
So, what snacks can you eat? Here are four suggestions.
Yogurt and Granola
It is best to choose a low-sugar or unflavoured yogurt; however, the calcium and protein in yogurt provide a great choice before bedtime. The protein and calcium will help you stay fuller longer and stave off additional hunger pangs. Oatmeal contains magnesium which helps to produce melatonin. In addition, both yogurt and oatmeal contain tryptophan.
Sliced Apple and Cheese
Cheese provides protein, calcium, and tryptophan and apples are low-fat loaded with nutrients and importantly have fiber which can keep you feeling full. In addition, apples contain polyphenols which help your body to slowly process foods.
While you don’t want to chow down on an entire turkey, a small turkey sandwich (opt for the lettuce wrap instead of bread!) may be a great pre-bed snack. Of course, you have the benefits of tryptophan, but also protein which will help keep you full.
Cottage Cheese and Berries
Berries such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries have antioxidants that can help reduce your body’s overall physical stress as well as provide a ton of nutrition.
There you have it! I hope these tips help you to fall asleep faster tonight.
Contributed by: Lisa Smalls
Lisa is a freelance writer from NC that often writes sleep health pieces for Mattress Advisor. She is fascinated with the relationship between food and sleep health and loves educating on the topic through her writing.