Food impacts so many different parts of our health, and many of us know that some foods can make our sleep worse… but did you know that others can also make it better?
See below for the best things to include and avoid before bed.
Foods that make sleep worse
- Caffeine: It is well known that caffeine is a stimulant, as such making it more difficult to go to sleep. I usually recommend to avoid drinking caffeine after 2.30pm, however this will of course depend on how sensitive you are to it. Caffeine is also not just found in coffee; some types of tea (including black and green) and dark chocolate should also be avoided before bed time due to their caffeine content.
- Alcohol: Whilst it may feel like alcohol helps make you drowsy, and as such a good nights’ sleep, however it actually disturbs sleep. Sleep quality is likely worse, due to likely more disturbed sleep. It is also more difficult to get into the deep sleep your body requires after drinking alcohol.
- Sugar: Refined, processed sugar is likely to increase your energy levels, and as a result, make you feel more awake.
- Large meal: A large meal right before going to sleep means your body is still working hard at digesting it, making it more difficult to get to sleep. If you accidentally over ate, feelings of discomfort can also make it more difficult.
- High fat meal: Fat is slow to digest, meaning whatever you ate will take a long time to digest, and as such affecting the point above. Also, a high fat meal may increase the chance of reflux, which can also disturb sleep.
Foods that improve sleep
- Milk and yoghurt: Both of these contain the amino acid tryptophan, which helps produce melatonin, one of the chemicals which helps induce sleep. Furthermore, research shows better muscle recovery after exercise when milk or yoghurt is consumed before bed.
- Cherries: This fruit actually contains melatonin!
- Magnesium rich foods: Play a key role in sleep regulation, through muscle relaxation, energy production and deactivation of adrenaline. Foods containing magnesium include dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, whole grains, avocados, yoghurt, bananas.
- Turkey: Another food that is rich in tryptophan, which may help with getting to sleep.
- Herbal tea: Herbal teas contain no caffeine, and are often reported to have calming effects. Chamomile is a great option.