Eat Your Way to Better Sleep!
Do you toss and turn at night, struggling to fall asleep? Or do you wake up feeling groggy rather than refreshed? Poor sleep can drain your energy, focus, and overall health. Fortunately, making some nutrition tweaks may help you enjoy deeper, more restorative sleep.
Optimizing your diet is one powerful yet often overlooked way to enhance your sleep quality. The nutrients you consume impact your energy levels, hormones, digestion, and more — all factors that influence how well you sleep.
Nutritional Tips For Better Sleep
Eat Foods Rich in Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone that regulates your circadian rhythm. It lets your body know when it’s time to sleep. Melatonin production naturally increases in the evening and decreases upon waking. Eating melatonin-rich foods may give your body an extra boost to prepare for sleep.
Good food sources include:
- Tart cherries
- Goji berries
Time Your Caffeine Cutoff
It’s common knowledge that you should avoid caffeine close to bedtime. But do you know how soon before sleep to cut yourself off? Stop drinking caffeinated beverages at least six hours before your intended bedtime.
Caffeine has a half-life of five to seven hours. That means it takes that long for your body to eliminate 50 percent of the caffeine you consume. Have your last cup of coffee or black tea in the early afternoon for a sounder sleep at night.
Fuel Up with Magnesium-Rich Foods
Magnesium deficiency is widespread, with an estimated 50 percent of Americans not getting enough. This key mineral aids nerve and muscle function. It’s also critical for quality sleep.
Good magnesium-rich nutrition options include:
- Leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard
- Legumes, including beans, peas, and lentils
- Whole grains such as oats, brown rice, and quinoa
- Nuts and seeds like almonds, cashews, and pumpkin seeds
Dehydration causes headaches, fatigue, confusion, and irritability — all can interfere with good sleep. Sip water consistently throughout the day and have a glass before bed so you wake up feeling refreshed and not thirsty.
While any liquid helps hydrate, water is ideal. Avoid alcohol and sugary drinks, which can disrupt sleep later. Herbal tea is another healthy option. Chamomile, lavender, passionflower, and valerian teas encourage relaxation.
Up Your Tryptophan Intake
The amino acid tryptophan boosts the production of serotonin and melatonin, two hormones key for regulating sleep cycles. Your body converts tryptophan into these essential hormones. Nutrition rich in tryptophan include:
- Turkey, chicken, eggs, and fish
- Nuts and seeds
- Beans, lentils, and legumes
- Low-fat dairy products
Pair tryptophan-containing foods with a source of carbs, like fruit or whole grains. This helps more tryptophan reach your brain so your body can produce more serotonin and melatonin.
Limit Sugar and Refined Carbs
A diet high in sugar and refined carbs may negatively impact deep sleep phases. Processed foods and sweets with added sugars cause your blood sugar to spike and then crash. The excess energy turns into fat if your body doesn’t need it immediately.
This dysfunctional blood sugar regulation exacerbates inflammation and oxidation — two factors research links with poor sleep quality.
Replace refined grains and sugary treats with fiber-rich whole food sources of carbohydrates. Options like whole grains, starchy vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and fruits give you lasting energy. They also supply nutrients to support healthy sleep cycles long-term.
Watch Portion Sizes
Eating a large, heavy meal close to bed can interfere with sleep due to digestion issues. Rich foods take your body longer to break down and utilize. Hearty proteins like steak, fatty fish, and cheese are common culprits for disrupting sleep patterns.
Eat bigger meals earlier in the day. Have a lighter dinner and snack that’s higher in carbs and fiber and lower in fat. This makes it easier for your body to fully digest so you don’t stay up with an upset stomach.
Embrace Sleep-Promoting Nutrients
In addition to the recommendations above, emphasize nutrient-dense whole foods. They give your body balanced energy and the building blocks to function optimally day and night.
Focus on getting plenty of vitamins A, D, E, and K, which support circadian rhythms. Also increase omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, iron, potassium, and Vitamins C, D, and B-complex. Deficiencies in any of these can interfere with enjoying high-quality sleep.
Leverage Food to Get the Sleep You Need
Making what you eat a priority is a powerful step to enhance sleep quantity and quality. Follow the guidance above to leverage nutrition as medicine for consistent, deeply restorative slumber.
Your nights will improve, setting you up to win each day with boundless energy, sharp focus, and a sunny outlook no matter what comes your way. If you need further help with sleep apnea, schedule a consultation with Dr. Rebecca Lauck at North Texas Sleep Solutions in Keller, TX.