Have you ever found yourself grumpy, lethargic or hyperactive after a meal? Dieting affects your waking life, so it’s no surprise that what you eat determines how you sleep, too. If you think that your diet could be decreasing your quality of sleep, then these 4 quick diet tips should be a good start.
Get the balance right
Although you shouldn’t turn in after eating a huge meal, it’s also not a good idea to go to bed on a completely empty stomach. Doing that can cause cramps that are sure to keep you awake. It’s all a matter of balance: not too little and not too heavy for our system to deal with. Eating a healthy snack can actually help you relax and sleep.
Dairy products can make you feel sleepy
Dairy products like yogurt, milk, cheese and eggs can be a real help for sleep. They contain an amino acid called tryptophan, which is synthesised into serotonin, a hormone that promotes sleepiness. Having a carbohydrate-rich snack like a few oatcakes or a bowl of cereal an hour or so before going to bed can also do the trick, because of the insulin they contain which also helps to produce serotonin.
Always give your food time to digest
Where possible, you should always try to eat no later than an hour and a half before heading to bed. Our body falls asleep at a particular temperature, but digestion increases our body temperature and disturbs the process of falling asleep, so it’s important that your food has plenty of time to digest before you go to bed.
If your lifestyle habits mean that you tend to eat your evening meals later rather than sooner, try and aim for foods like vegetables and steamed fish, as they’re light and easy to digest. Just avoid vegetables like cabbage and cauliflower because they are quite the opposite.
Watch what you drink, as well as what you eat
Along with considering what’s suitable to eat close to bedtime, you need to think about what you drink too. A glass of warm milk could certainly help you to sleep better and herbal teas such as chamomile, passion flower and Valerian have a calming, sedative effect that might help you to drift off.
Water is important too, but don’t drink too much of it or you’ll disturb your sleep by needing to pop to the loo. The best idea is to keep a small bottle of water close to your bed during the night so you can have a sip or two whenever you need it. And never drink coffee, tea or any soft drinks like coca-cola, for a good few hours before going to sleep. They all contain caffeine, which will stimulate your brain and prevent you from sleeping.
Sleep matters a great deal to our health and well-being, so anything we can do to get lots of it, is always a good idea. Do you have any trusty habits in your diet to help you sleep? Let us know!