Nutrition and Healthy Sleep
Insomnia (difficulty falling or staying asleep) can affect everyone from time to time. Having healthy sleep habits can help prevent insomnia, as well as help to reduce stress, overeating, and tiredness. There are a number of ways to improve your sleep habits. For example, you should create a sleep routine by devoting 7 to 8 hours for sleep each night and going to bed and waking up at the same times each day. You should also sleep in a dark, cool, quiet environment and try to exercise most days of the week. Altering your diet can also help promote a more restful sleep. Follow the nutrition tips below to help you rest better:
- Limit caffeine-containing foods and beverages: caffeine increases your heart rate, respiratory rate, as well as urinary output; all things you want to avoid at bedtime. Try to avoid caffeine within 6 hours of going to bed.
- Limit fluids before bedtime: Drinking too much fluid before going to bed could keep you running to the bathroom and interrupt restful sleep.
- Avoid heavy meals and snacks before bedtime: Heavy, high fat meals will prolong digestion time and can cause heartburn. You may fall asleep fast, but you will wake up frequently.
- Choose foods with sleep-inducing substances: Foods high in tryptophan will help more serotonin and melatonin get to your brain, which will help you rest better. Choose dairy and soy products, seafood, meat and poultry, whole grains, beans, rice, hummus, lentils, hazelnuts/peanuts, eggs, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds for your dinner meals and bedtime snacks.
- Choose a meal patter that will help you sleep: When you want to fall asleep, you should choose foods that are high in complex carbohydrates and medium to low in protein such as pasta with cheese, whole grain cereal and milk, or peanut butter on whole grain bread.
- Do not smoke or drink alcohol before going to bed: Nicotine is a stimulant which can keep you from falling asleep. Alcohol, on the other hand, may make you fall asleep quickly, but you will wake up frequently and restful sleep will be interrupted.