Diet and sleep may seem like two unrelated things at first, but the fact is they are connected to each other. Since the foods you eat affect overall health and well being, it only makes sense that they should also have an impact on the way you sleep. Read on to learn more about how your diet affects your sleep.
Food and Serotonin
To understand the relationship of food and sleep, you first need to become familiar with serotonin. Serotonin is basically the neurotransmitter which induces calmness and relaxation in the brain. In order to manufacture serotonin, your body needs the material tryptophan. Tryptophan can be found in certain foods. The more tryptophan you make available to your body, the more serotonin is produced by your brain. More serotonin produced means you will feel more sleepy.
Foods that contain carbohydrates are common sources of tryptophan. Eating a meal rich in carbohydrates will cause your body to release more insulin. This insulin will then rid your bloodstream of other amino acids that threaten the availability of tryptophan. Tryptophan will then freely travel to your brain to stimulate the production of serotonin. This explains why you might feel drowsy in the afternoon after eating a high-carbohydrate meal. In contrast, a meal that is richer in protein will help you stay alert and awake.
Snacks and Dinners to Help You Sleep
Now that you know how certain foods can affect your sleep, you can then adjust your diet accordingly in order to improve your sleeping habits. You can start by preparing dinner meals that will help you prepare for a good night’s sleep. Ideally, the meal should be high in carbohydrates with minimal protein. Some good dinner ideas would be stir-fried tofu with vegetables, a whole-wheat pita sandwich with hummus, a tuna salad sandwich and a salad made of whole-wheat crackers, sesame seeds and chunks of tuna. If you get hungry during bedtime, there are some delicious bedtime snacks that you can try to help you have a sounder sleep. Some whole-grain cereal with milk, tofu and hazelnuts or a peanut butter sandwich are all good snack ideas. However, don’t make a habit of eating high-carb snacks late in the night, as this may lead to weight gain.
Foods that Disrupt Sleep
Just as there are foods that can help you sleep better, there are also foods that can end up disrupting your sleep. As you probably know, caffeine is one of the things that you should avoid if you are having difficulty sleeping. Caffeine is not only found in coffee but can also be found in tea, sodas and even cough syrup. Even if you can’t get through the day without a cup of coffee, try not to drink any when it’s close to bedtime. Food allergies can also be a source of insomnia. If you feel restlessness after eating a certain type of food, it could mean that you are slightly allergic to that particular food. Try to eliminate that food from your diet and see if it helps your sleep.