Different foods can affect your sleep, both for the good and bad. We are going to look at both. Let's jump right in.
Foods That Affect Your Sleep In A Negative Way
Caffeinated foods and drinks such as coffee, many soft drinks, tea, and chocolate. Caffeine can remain in the system up to 12 hours after consumption, so if you must ingest any of these, it is better to do so as early in the day as possible.
Alcohol. While it may initially make you sleepy, it creates more frequent sleep disturbance and a less restful sleep.
Highly salted foods. Found frequently in processed foods and ready meals, soups, highly processed meats, and many types of bread. The high sodium content elevates blood pressure and causes dehydration, which can interrupt sleep.
Spicy foods. These aggravate the GI tract; can cause gastrointestinal ulcers and acid reflux. GI discomfort is one of the main causes of insomnia. According to a recent poll, 1 in 4 of insomniacs with unknown cause are experiencing acid reflux that is keeping them awake unknowingly.
It is also suggested to eat early (last meal should be at least 3 hours before bed) and preferable to have six small meals than three larger meals. Also avoid liquids at least 3 hours before bedtime.
Foods That Affect Your Sleep In A Positive Way
You can manage insomnia through nutrition if you know the right combinations of foods best eaten in the evening, and especially, what foods you should stay away from.
Tryptophan is an amino acid (a building block of protein) that is contained in many plants and animals. It is a component of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that creates calmness and drowsiness. It is also used to synthesize the hormone melatonin, vital to the wake/sleep cycle.
Combining Tryptophan With The Right Carbohydrates
Combining tryptophan with ample carbohydrates is the key to aiding tryptophan to get to the brain, where it works to combat insomnia. Adding carbohydrates with tryptophan triggers insulin release. This diverts toward muscle tissue other amino acids that are competing with tryptophan to reach the brain, enabling tryptophan to have an easy transport directly to the brain.
Some good low-protein/high-carbohydrate foods that produce serotonin:
Whole-grain cereals and breads; oats; brown rice; whole wheat pasta.
In the vegetable aisle: Sweet potatoes and yams, white potatoes, spinach, winter squash (butternut, acorn, etc.), brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, green peas, cauliflower, celery, beets, asparagus, and corn.
In the fruit aisle: Bananas (high in potassium and magnesium, which are natural muscle relaxants), oranges, grapefruit, mangoes, grapes, papaya, plums.
Elsewhere in the store: low-fat dairy such as milk and yogurt; even low-fat ice cream.