Sleep is complicated. Something that seems straightforward can be impacted by so many factors that it often feels like a moving target to people who aren’t sleeping well. And it’s one of those things in life that we often take for granted when it’s going well. Until it’s not.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, we have a lot of general tips in other posts. But today we want to talk about food. And more specifically, how food can impact your sleep.
Interestingly enough, food is another one of those basic human needs that we take for granted when it’s going well. But sometimes when we’re less mindful about our fuel, we might not realize how it’s impacting other areas of our life.
There are two kinds of food in the world of sleep. Foods that help us sleep and those that hinder our sleep. Let’s look at both so you can be more aware throughout your day on the things that may be impacting you at night.
FOODS THAT HELP SLEEP
You know that feeling after a Thanksgiving meal when all you want to do is take a nap? And everyone’s lying around talking about tryptophan and how turkey makes you tired? Well it’s true, tryptophan can make you sleepy but so can overeating at a huge holiday meal! This means there are a couple of factors going on with food and how it helps us sleep. One is the type of food and the other is the amount.
Now, of course, we aren’t saying you should eat a giant holiday meal every night before bedtime. What we’re talking about here is balance. Like with so many things in life, if we can keep our food intake more balanced it can impact so many other areas of our life including sleep.
So, what kinds of foods should we be eating with sleep in mind? This article from the National Sleep Foundation delves into detailed examples of snacks you could have an hour before bed to help induce sleep. A few popular highlights include:
- Cherries – a natural source of melatonin
- A small mug of warm milk – this old-fashioned remedy really works! The reason is often debated, but it’s generally found to be helpful. Adding a dash of honey can help if you don’t love the taste.
- Bananas – the magnesium and potassium can be relaxing
- Herbal Teas – a great relaxing & healthy choice! Chamomile is a popular evening tea.
FOODS THAT HINDER SLEEP
It’s important to be mindful of the foods that hinder sleep so you can be sure to avoid them, especially later in the day. We all know that we’re supposed to avoid caffeine as the day progresses, but did you know there are some sneaky foods and even medications that have a little boost in them?
If you’re having trouble sleeping, try eliminating the following from your afternoon consumption and see if it has a positive impact:
- Decaf Coffee – still contains trace amounts of caffeine and could be causing you trouble.
- Chocolate – Sweet friend, you may need to go! Chocolate can contain a lot of caffeine and comes in so many forms (ice cream, hot cocoa, etc.) that you may need to cut back on your favorite treats.
- Headache Medication – some headache relief medications contain caffeine as it can help reduce the pain, but it also might keep you up at night so check the ingredients later in the day.
- Refreshing beverages – it may seem like a no brainer, but many sodas and iced teas contain caffeine as well. This is an easy one to forget when you’re reaching for your afternoon pick me up!
As big fans of a good night’s sleep, we hope this helps you recommit to keeping healthy sleep at the top of your list!