There is nothing better than a good night’s sleep. It feels like a magical time where the body gets to repair itself and recharge for the next day. While there are many things that contribute to good sleep, one thing that is often overlooked is what we eat. Food can affect the quality of your sleep. In some cases, eating certain foods can cause you to have trouble sleeping, while others can make you feel more rested after a night’s sleep.
We’ve compiled the top four nuggets of wisdom we learned about eating for better sleep into a handy list.
Try to eat dinner at least two hours before you go to bed: Studies show that your diet can impact your sleep quality, but when you eat can also affect your circadian rhythm. The brain can interpret signals from the outside world to keep a body functioning properly. Eating is one such signal that tells the brain when it’s time for digestion and activity, not rest. If you eat too close to bedtime, your body won’t know it’s time to wind down and relax because it’s busy processing the food you ate. For a good night’s sleep, try eating dinner at least two hours before going to bed.
Be consistent with mealtimes: To have consistent sleep quality, not only should you give your body time to digest food before bed, eating at the same time every day can also help achieve this goal. The body likes routine, which is why it’s important to eat at around the same time every day and wake up and go to bed at about the same time every day. This helps keep your circadian rhythm steady, which can help prevent chronic health problems.
Eat foods that will help you sleep better: If you want to improve the quality of your sleep, try adding sleep-promoting foods to your weekly meal plan. You can keep your taste buds guessing by changing up the type of food you eat. When you eat a high-tryptophan diet—such as spinach, edamame, or salmon—your body may make more of the hormones its brain needs to relax and fall asleep. If you find yourself tossing and turning, walnuts are one food scientists have recommended for getting a restful night’s sleep. Not only are they full of tryptophan, the relaxing mineral magnesium, and melatonin, a necessary hormone for quality sleep, but eating them at night helps all three work together for a good night’s rest. When your brain has an on/off switch, magnesium is part of the machinery that turns the switch off so you can fall asleep. Meanwhile, the rise in melatonin levels makes you feel sleepy, too. All three work in different ways but they all help facilitate quality sleep.
Eat healthy snacks: It’s worth noting, though, that even if you’re consistent with your meals, there are bound to be days such as after a particularly sweaty workout when you wake up hungry in the middle of the night. Instead of waiting until breakfast, reach for a healthy midnight snack—as long as you don’t choose one that won’t digest easily or will interfere with your sleep. To avoid consuming midnight snacks that can ruin your sleep, steer clear of alcohol, caffeinated teas, and beverages with a lot of liquid content. So, what can you eat at night to promote sleep? Tart cherries, pumpkin seeds, cottage cheese, kiwi and banana with peanut butter, contains sleep-promoting properties. What is important is to keep the snack light. If you’re thirsty, try some warm milk or a cup of chamomile tea.