Sleep is a big factor in health, mood and energy. We can improve the quality of sleep by adjusting both our environment and diet. Because food has the ability to affect hormones that are directly related to sleep, knowing which foods to eat a few hours before bed or which foods to avoid can help you have a better night’s zZzzZ.
Foods to avoid near bedtime because of their potential to disrupt your sleep:
- Food or drinks with caffeine
- A high fat meal
- Spicy foods
On the other hand, certain foods can help promote better sleep, such as:
- Lean proteins – They contain tryptophan which is a precursor to serotonin, an important chemical and neurotransmitter in the body that plays a big role in sleep. Examples of lean meats include turkey, chicken, low fat dairy products.
- Complex carbs – Choose a bedtime snack with complex carbs. These tend to break down slowly and reduce chances of blood sugar spikes or crashes that could interfere with sleep or appetite. Examples of complex carbs include popcorn, oatmeal, whole grain crackers. In addition, simple carbs such as white breads, pasta, cookies, pastries may reduce serotonin levels, which can make it difficult to have sound sleep.
- Herbal tea – Having a nice, warm cup of tea can help you relax and wind down. Choose from chamomile, ginger, lavender or peppermint, all of which are calming choices for bedtime.
- Foods high in magnesium – Magnesium is a mineral that has a powerful role in promoting better sleep. A deficiency in magnesium may cause restless sleep and frequently waking during the night. Maintaining healthy magnesium levels often helps you have quality sleep without interruptions. Foods high in magnesium include: dark leafy greens (spinach, kale, collard greens), nuts and seeds, soybeans or soy milk, banana, avocado, dairy products.