Your diet impacts ALL aspects of your life, health and performance, including your sleep.
The food that you eat (and when you eat it) can dramatically impact the quality of sleep that you get.
Your gut is closely linked to your brain, which secretes the hormones that help you fall asleep or stay awake.
The food you eat impacts the health of your gut.
And the health of your gut will ALWAYS have a tremendous impact on the quality of your sleep.
Some foods make it harder for you to fall asleep.
Some will make it easier. Here’s what you need to do with your diet to improve your sleep.
Tip #1: AVOID THESE FOODS
Certain foods make it harder for you to fall asleep.
Anything that disrupts your gut microbiome can impact your brain’s production of melatonin and serotonin, impacting your sleep.
Pay particular close attention to caffeine.
Caffeine is a powerful stimulant that keeps you awake and alert.
Caffeine makes your adrenal glands produce the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which prevent you from falling asleep (and keep you energized instead).
TO SLEEP BETTER:
1. Avoid spicy foods. Spicy foods before bedtime can give you indigestion that makes it nearly impossible to get a good night’s sleep.
2. Avoid foods that can damage your git microbiome. Stay away from processed foods, chemical food additives and preservatives, pesticides or antibiotics if you can.
3. Don’t drink caffeine after 2pm. Caffeine keeps you stimulated and prevents you from falling asleep. It takes your body at LEAST 5-8 hours to get rid of half the caffeine in your body. Stop drinking caffeinated beverages (coffee, tea, soda) 8 hours before your ideal bedtime.
4. Consider cutting out caffeine altogether. Even after 8 hours, half of the caffeine in your system can still be active. If you’re having trouble sleeping, or if you’re particularly sensitive to caffeine, consider going without it altogether for a while.
Tip #2: INCLUDE THESE FOODS
These foods and nutrients can have a positive effect on your sleep.
TO SLEEP BETTER, MAKE SURE TO EAT:
1. Unprocessed, organic foods as much as possible. Healthy meats, fish and leafy vegetables are the staple of a healthy diet, and a good night’s sleep as well.
2. Selenium. Selenium is critical for your thyroid function. A deficiency in selenium might play a role in sleep problems. Get it from brazil nuts, beef, chicken or oysters. 3. Calcium. A lack of calcium can cause REM sleep deficiency. Get calcium from kale, collard greens, mustard greens or sardines.
4. Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Omega 3 fatty acids can help you get deeper, more restful sleep. Get it from salmon, halibut, walnuts, or chia, pumpkin and hemp seeds.
5. Vitamin C. People with low levels of vitamin C have more sleep issues and are more likely to wake up at night. Get vitamin C from leafy green vegetables, bell peppers, citrus fruits, kiwifruit or certain berries.
6. Vitamin D. Many people are deficient in Vitamin D, which correlates to daytime sleepiness. The best source of vitamin D is getting some sunlight. But you can also get it from healthy foods as swordfish, salmon, tuna, mackerel, oysters and shiitake mushrooms.
7. Tryptophan. This is the precursor to the hormone serotonin, which helps you relax and fall asleep. Get it from turkey, chicken, eggs, almonds, yogurt and leafy greens.
8. Potassium. Scientific research suggests potassium might be helpful for people who have trouble falling asleep. Get it from leafy greens, broccoli, avocados, cremini mushrooms, bananas or potatoes.
9. Magnesium. Magnesium is an anti-stress mineral that’s critical to your health and longevity. Many people are deficient in it. If that’s the case for you, getting your magnesium levels up can almost instantly reduce your body’s stress load and improve the quality of your sleep.
TIP #3: DON’T EAT TOO LATE
Processing your meals takes some time. Immediately after eating, your body is kicked into gear to process that food and get rid of it.
A whole range of processes are going on throughout your body, some of which can disrupt your sleep.
If you want the best, restful sleep you can get, DON’T eat right before bed.
TO SLEEP BETTER:
1. Stop eating 90 minutes before bedtime. Processing the food in your stomach raises your blood sugar and either keeps you up, or disrupts the quality of your sleep. Don’t eat dinner or snacks within the 90 minutes before you plan to go to bed.
2. If you do eat a late-night snack, eat a high-fat, low-carb one. This keeps your blood sugar stable, making it easier for you to fall asleep.
Tip #3: LOSE WEIGHT
Being overweight is one of the main disruptors of a good night’s sleep. Being overweight can lead to sleep apnea, which causes you to pause breathing during sleep, thereby reducing the quality of your sleep.
Having too much body fat also causes stress to your nervous system, internal organs, and disrupts your body’s hormone system.
Getting a healthy weight has a positive effect on MANY aspects of your health, performance and wellbeing. Better, deeper sleep is one of them.
TO SLEEP BETTER: • Lose weight.
Eat more protein and fat, and less carbohydrates (such as refined sugars like soda and candy, starches like bread, pasta and potatoes; and even fruit). It’s the best way to lose weight.
Tip #4: WATCH THE ALCOHOL
Alcohol is a special little substance, that has a strange effect on your sleep.
On the one hand, it does help you fall asleep better. But the quality of your sleep is a lot WORSE.
Having alcohol in your system significantly disrupts the deep REM sleep that rejuvenates you at night.
Alcohol knocks you out of your regular sleep homeostasis. During the first stages of sleep, you get too little REM sleep.
In the later stages, your brain tries to catch up and sleep too deep. As a result, you won’t feel so great waking up the next morning.
TO SLEEP BETTER:
1. Stop drinking alcohol 3 hours before going to bed. (If 3 hours is too much, try and stop as early as you possibly can).
2. Drink a full glass of water between alcoholic drinks to flush them out.