We all know the importance of a good night’s sleep. However, it has become more and more obvious that it is not always easy to get those 8+ hours of shut eye. In fact, recent research has shown that even more than one-third of children, ages 4 months to 17 years old, are not getting enough sleep1. At Restoration Hope, we know the importance of sleep, but we also understand the hectic lives we live and want to discuss some of those factors that might be keeping us up at night.
Sleep may be easy for some of us or a big challenge for others and while it most definitely is multifactorial, we want to talk about sleep and diet. Many times we hear about how what we eat affects our sleep, but we rarely hear about how how we sleep affects how we eat. And today, we’re going to talk about both.
First, there are a few adjustments we can make in order to increase our chances of getting a better night’s sleep.
- Give yourself time before bed. By stopping eating at least three hours before you go to bed, you allow your body to finish its digestion process and will lead to a better quality sleep
- Diversify your diet. There are many foods out there that are rich in magnesium or melatonin, which aid in better sleep. They include cherries, kiwis, fatty fish, whole grains, nuts/seeds and leafy greens. And I am all for those specific foods, but what I want the clearer message to be is to incorporate whole foods into your diet and mix it up. Sometimes we find ourselves eating the same baked chicken and broccoli and hoping that something changes, but the reality is, a balanced and varied diet is a staple when it comes to good nutrition and quality sleep.
- Avoid alcohol. Alcohol actually disrupts your sleep and often prevents you from falling into that deep REM sleep that we need. If you can, stick to just one drink on the nights that you’re enjoying a glass.
- …And a few others. Avoiding foods like sugary drinks or desserts will help to increase your chances of better sleep, but so will avoiding high fat and high protein foods. This is because fat and protein take longer to digest so it makes it harder for your body to fall asleep. This is another great reason to make breakfast and lunch your bigger meals and have dinner be on the lighter side. Additionally, processed meats like salami and pepperoni have been found to be high in the amino acid tyramine, which can cause an increase in the hormone norepinephrine, further keeping your brain awake.2
While many of us will hit every mark above, some nights we just do not get enough sleep and that is the reality. So I want to talk about how our sleep can affect our diet. Naturally, when we do not get enough shut eye, we wake up tired and lethargic. This state of low-energy triggers our brain for quick instant energy, which is why we often find ourselves reaching for those simple carbohydrates like chips, pasta, cookies, etc. However, by knowing this in advance, we can counter this desire by following the above rules in hopes to get more restful sleep that night.
There certainly are a number of other factors that come into play with better sleep and that is one of the benefits of Restoration Hope. While we may just be talking about nutrition today, we approach health at all angles and aim to get at the root of the problem. So if diet, depression, or anxiety (just to name a few) are keeping you from getting your best night of sleep, we want you to know that we are here for you, just give us a call.
**The information contained herein is not therapeutic advice nor a substitute for therapy. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any mental health problem. If you are located within the United States and you need emergency assistance please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. If you are located within Colorado you may also call the Colorado Crisis Line at 844-493-TALK (8255).