What you eat has more of an effect on how you sleep than you may realize. Research shows that when sleep-deprived, you’re more likely to consume foods high in calories, fat, and sugar, which simply perpetuates this vicious cycle. Click for an interesting article on this subject.
So, eating a balanced diet that emphasizes fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat proteins that are rich in B vitamins will not only do wonders for your health from a holistic perspective, but will improve your sleep as well.
While the information below is helpful and important, you may benefit from an individual consult with one of our Registered Dietitians who can review your diet for any nutrient imbalances and/or deficiencies. They are available for virtual appointments via Telehealth and will guide you towards a healthier diet and a peaceful night’s sleep. Give us a call at 845.566.3506 or contact us for for your appointment.
What Happens When You are Asleep?
• When your body is asleep, your functions slow down while your brain remains active.
• Your body temperature drops
• Your pulse, breathing and blood pressure slow down
• Your muscles relax
• Your nervous system relaxes and your hormones are regulated
• Hunger/satiety is regulated
• Your sleep/wake cycle is synchronized
• Your diet plays an incredibly important role in ensuring that these functions are working normally for undisturbed sleep.
What Are Some Best Practices That I Can Follow Throughout the Day?
• Eat more fiber – This will help you to spend more time in a deep sleep. Less fiber + more sugar + more saturated fat may cause you to wake more often.
• Give yourself your rewards or little indulgences early in the day.
Limit sodium/processed foods – Excess intake of processed foods can contribute to excess sugar and salt in your diet, that can affect your blood sugar, hormones and hydration levels.
• Limit caffeine – Caffeine can stay in your system for 12 hours! This may affect your sleep.
• Don’t dip below 1,200 calories per day – You will miss key nutrients and affect sleep negatively. Eating less than 1,200 calories will limit your body’s time spent in a slow-wave cycle which is necessary for muscle repair and recovery.
What Does My Body Need To Improve My Sleep Habits?
We need to consume foods that are easily digestible and calm the brain, lower body temperature, maintain low glucose levels and improve metabolism.
Seratonin: Low levels impair sleep and cause anxiety.
FOODS TO EAT: kiwi, whole grains, salmon/fatty fish, and other foods high in Vitamin B
Melatonin: The hormone that signals to your body when it’s time to sleep.
FOODS TO EAT: cherries, pineapple, bananas, oranges, oatmeal, walnuts
Tryptophan: An amino acid that promotes better quality sleep.
FOODS TO EAT: hummus, turkey, miso, eggs, milk, chicken
Magnesium: An important macro-mineral in our diet. Deficiencies include poor sleep habits, among other issues.
FOODS TO EAT: pumpkin seeds, dark leafy greens, meats, unprocessed whole grains
Zinc: One of the minerals that has a calming, sedative effect on the nervous system.
FOODS TO EAT: meat, shellfish, dairy, seeds, legumes, nuts
GABA: An amino acid which facilitates communication among brain cells; reduces stress and anxiety, improves sleep.
FOODS TO EAT: tea, beans, nuts, fish, berries, broccoli
Iron: A mineral that carries red blood cells throughout the body to produce energy. A deficiency, or anemia, affects sleep and causes RLS symptoms.
FOODS TO EAT: oyster, clams, dark turkey meat, beef tenderloin
Copper: A mineral that regulates serotonin
FOODS TO EAT: whole grains, beans, nuts, potatoes, dark leafy greens
A good night’s sleep is incredibly important for your health, and is as essential as a healthy diet and exercise. Poor sleep is linked to unhealthy body weight, decreased focus and concentration, higher risk for heart disease and diabetes, increased inflammation, and decreased immune function. Therefore, why wouldn’t you help yourself in any way you can to promote healthy sleep habits?