Foods That Help and Foods That Hinder Your Sleep

Some foods actually help us fall asleep while others can keep us up counting sheep. Here’s a rundown on which foods are good (and bad) for our sound sleep.

A warm glass of milk has long been said to be a good sleep-inducer, and the reason is that it contains tryptophan, much like your Thanksgiving turkey. Other sources of tryptophan include eggs, nuts, seeds and bananas. Carbohydrate-rich foods can complement the tryptophan, so cereal and milk and yogurt and crackers can pack a double wallop.

Be careful, though, to keep the portions small. If you eat too much, your digestive system will be working so hard that it will interfere with your sleep.

And speaking of large portions, studies have shown that people who eat high-fat foods on a regular basis not only gain weight but disrupt their sleep cycles because of digestive issues, as mentioned above. So even if you don’t eat a big meal prior to bedtime, the cumulative effect of not eating right can cause longterm sleep issues.

While tryptophan and carbs go well together for beddy-bye, avoid heavy proteins and spicy foods too close to bedtime. The reason is the same — digestive overload.

Caffeinated products should obviously be avoided at least four to six hours before bedtime, but some people forget that chocolates and teas also contain caffeine, as do other foods and drinks. So read the labels on products carefully. Also, if you’re taking medications, some of them contain caffeine. Discuss this with your doctor if you’re having sleep problems.

Like caffeine, alcohol is best avoided four to six hours before bedtime. If you imbibe in a nightcap (or two), yes, you may fall asleep quicker but when it wears off, you’ll wake up. Plus, the alcohol interferes with your natural sleep cycles.

Lastly, if you smoke, nicotine is a stimulant just like caffeine, so smoking should be curtailed hours before bedtime as well.

Again, if you suffer from insomnia, you should adopt good sleep hygiene protocols, like the ones mentioned above, but you should also seek professional help if your sleep issues persist despite your best effort and intentions.

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