Struggling to get a good night’s sleep? One of the first steps you could do towards better sleep is eating balanced, nutritious meals and snacks evenly spaced out through the day. Try these simple tweaks to your diet which can have a big impact on your sleep quality.
What to do:
- Always strike for balanced. Eating too much or too little can both be detrimental to your sleep. Listen to your body, a little snack before bed can aid a good night’s sleep, however, a big meal will cause digestive discomfort and alter your sleep pattern;
- Eat little and often throughout the day. The body uses vital energy during sleep so make sure you feed it with a constant supply of healthy foods (watch the portion sizes!).
- Skip the large dinners and high fat foods. The digestive system slows down while you sleep, therefore, eating too much can make you uncomfortable and cause indigestion, especially when your meals are heavy on fat.
- Have a handful of almonds as a night-time snack. Their high magnesium and tryptophan levels can aid sleep.
- Some natural herbs such as Valerian and Lavender can aid sleep as they can help relax muscle tissues.
- Stay hydrated. Water is our natural energy booster. Sometimes you feel tired simply because you’re mildly dehydrated.
- If you struggle to drink water, especially during the winter months, sip a soothing tea instead. Chamomile and green tea are good options or opt for peppermint instead if you have an upset stomach as it can help with digestion especially after a heavy meal.
- Balance is always the best advice. If you are having sleep issues, it is worth checking if you are eating enough foods containing these vitamins and minerals: B vitamins, they can improve the body’s ability to regulate the use of sleep inducing tryptophan; Calcium, has a calming effect on the body’s nervous system; Zinc, a deficiency in this mineral has been linked to insomnia and Copper, which is essential to regulate serotonin in the body.
What to avoid:
- Ditch the diet. If you drastically reduce your calorie intake your body will miss out on essential nutrients and your sleep patterns can be affected as a result.
- Reduce your caffeine intake (gradually!). For some people, any caffeinated drinks will disrupt sleep patterns, therefore, avoid them in the evenings mainly.
- Spicy and acidic foods can also interfere with your sleep as they are likely to cause heartburn and discomfort.
- Avoid drinking too many liquids in the evening. Drinking lots of fluids may result in frequent bathroom trips throughout the night which will disrupt you sleep.
- Watch out for alcohol. While you might think that a glass or two could improve your sleep, alcohol is a stimulant and it can cause dehydration leaving you tired the next day.
- Avoid smoking, just like alcohol, nicotine is a stimulant and will hinder sleep.
- Reduce your sugar consumption.
- Avoid going to bed straight after eating. Lying down with a full stomach encourages acids to flow up into the esophagus causing heartburn and disrupting sleep.