4 Dietary Habits that Improve Your Sleep
Roughly 30% of Americans experience insomnia on some level. Sometimes it’s our busy lives that keep us from getting the sleep we need. Other times, it’s something that’s going on internally. Whether you can’t get your thoughts to stop racing, or you seem to get itchy feet when you lay down to rest, it’s possible that adjusting your diet could help. Here are 4 habits that can improve your sleep.
Cut Alcohol and Caffeine
If you have trouble sleeping, it’s important to start taking note of your caffeine intake. Caffeine takes roughly 6 hours to be even halfway processed by your body. Most insomniacs see significant benefits when they cut off caffeine after noon. Make sure that you note which foods contain caffeine beyond coffee and energy drinks.
Alcohol is another common sleep disruptor, although surprisingly it’s often used as a sleep aid. However, it can actually have a detrimental effect when used regularly. Alcohol impairs the regulation of your circadian rhythms by interrupting the hormonal signals used to trigger different sleep stages.
Examine Your Carbs
Although many people opt for a carb-light or carb-free diet in order to get healthier, several studies have found that healthy complex carbohydrates may actually promote better sleep. While simple sugars and refined starches can cause spikes and crashes of energy during that day that continue to affect your body while you sleep, whole grain carbs offer sustained energy and healthy digestion. In fact, a 2007 study found that a dinner with a high glycemic index may trigger tryptophan in the brain that makes us better able to fall asleep.
Add Healthy Fats
Surprisingly, according to a recent article published in Sleep Review Magazine, low fat diets have been linked to sleepiness during the day and the kind of sleep that doesn’t actually provide the restoration your body needs at night. On the other hand, high-fat ketogenic diets improved REM and slow-wave sleep. In fact, ketogenic diets have even been used to successfully treat narcolepsy. Just remember that a cheeseburger doesn’t count as a healthy fat. Opt instead for avocados, lean meats, and nuts.
Get Balanced Micronutrients
A recent study found that people with the healthiest sleep patterns were also those who had the most variety in their diet. This is probably because certain micronutrients found in various fruits, vegetables, meats, and legumes have a major impact on sleep regulation in your body. For example…
- Foods high in various B Vitamins help promote good sleep. Thiamine (B1) can be found in beans, nuts, and rice. Folate (B9) occurs in broccoli, lentils, and spinach.
- Magnesium may reduce the symptoms of restless legs syndrome, and zinc deficiency has been closely linked to poor sleep quality in children. Dietary sources of magnesium and zinc often come together in dark leafy greens, legumes, and whole grains.
- Some fruits are packed with melatonin, a vitamin that’s often used as a sleep aid supplement. This includes tart cherries, pineapple, kiwis, and oranges.
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