Waking up feeling tired, drinking coffee all day, and having trouble falling asleep. Does that sound like you? Many people underestimate how their food and beverage choices impact the amount and quality of sleep we get at night. Consider our tips below and start eating and drinking for a good night’s sleep.
Cut out late-day caffeine.
Caffeine can start affecting your body in as little as 15 minutes after it is consumed. Despite the quick uptake, it can stay in your system for up to 12 hours! That’s why it’s particularly important to avoid caffeine in the late afternoon and evening to ensure that it will not disturb your ability to fall asleep. You may be consuming caffeine late in the day without being aware of it. Watch out for sneakier sources of caffeine like chocolate, cola, and even decaf coffee. These all have low doses of caffeine and can affect you if you are sensitive. Some headache medicines, weight loss pills, and pain relievers also contain caffeine. Be sure to check the labels on your products!
Avoid alcoholic beverages before bedtime.
Although alcohol may make you feel sleepy, you should avoid it before bed. Alcohol can disrupt the balance between REM and non-REM sleep. Alcohol makes the time you spend sleeping less effective, and you could wake up feeling tired even after sleeping for a long time. Alcohol can also slow breathing and swell the lining of the throat, making it more difficult to breathe during sleep. This increases the likelihood of problems like snoring or sleep apnea.
If you are looking for a calming beverage, try warm milk (some research suggests that the tryptophan in milk can help speed the onset of sleep) or chamomile tea instead.
Eat for sleep.
There’s no one food that will help you slide into the perfect night’s sleep, but most experts do recommend foods that contain tryptophan to help relax and calm your mind and body. Tryptophan is processed by your body into serotonin and melatonin, both of which help regulate your sleep cycle. Eating certain foods in combination with carbohydrates helps tryptophan gain easier access to your brain where it can begin promoting sleep.
Good snack choices include a small bowl of cereal, a piece of fruit, or a piece of toast with peanut butter. If you have a sweet tooth, milk and cookies, or a small slice of apple pie with ice cream (avoid chocolate, which contains caffeine) can be a tasty, sleep-promoting snack.
Don’t starve or stuff yourself.
Take note of your pre-sleep eating habits. Being too full or hungry can negatively impact the quality of your sleep. A large meal before bed can prompt heartburn, gas, or indigestion that will either keep you awake or wake you up later. Just lying down after a particularly large meal can cause physical discomfort.
Going to bed hungry is also a bad idea because it can wake you. If you are hungry in the evenings, try eating a light snack 1 – 2 hours before you know you will go to bed. Avoid any foods that may cause physical discomfort. Foods with MSG are often reported to disrupt sleep, so skip the leftover Chinese take-out before bed.
Stop intake of fluids earlier.
As previously mentioned, alcohol can disturb your sleep, but any beverage can trigger your bladder to send your brain a wakeup signal if you drink it too late in the evening. Cut back on liquid intake after dinner. Be sure that using the restroom is on your bedtime routine. If you have an overactive bladder and find that you rarely sleep through the night without a bathroom break, ask your doctor about potential treatment options to make you feel better and sleep well.