Home > Lifestyle & Sleep > A Diet to Improve Your Sleep

A Diet to Improve Your Sleep

By: Wendy Jacob - Updated: 20 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Sleep Diet Food Anxiety Caffeine Alcohol

It is hard to appreciate how important sleep is until you experience the effects of insomnia or lack of sleep. Feeling tired, grumpy and unable to cope are just a few of the short term symptoms associated with the problem. Prolonged periods without sufficient sleep can lead to physical and emotional ill health and can be dangerous to the individual and others.

Of course, most of us know how some people can fall asleep with ease and do not appear to be affected by where they are, what they eat or anything else – they are the lucky ones! For others, sleep does not come so easily and many suffer for years unaware that they are influencing the way they sleep through the choices they make.

It is not just how we are that affects the way we sleep; how we live, what we eat and how we think may also be stopping us sleep. Some parts of life may be out of our control but one area that impacts on our sleep and is up to us is what we eat and when we eat it.

Most of us are familiar with the effects of caffeine and many of us are dependent on the morning fix to stimulate and give us a ‘kick’ during the day. The effects of caffeine are powerful and coffee and caffeine drinks are a popular choice during the day and evening.

Alcohol is also a major player in many people’s lives but even used in moderation can interfere with the quality and length of sleep. Initially helping us to relax, deeper into the night it makes us restless, prone to waking up and leaves us dehydrated and exhausted in the morning – not to mention the symptoms of being hangover with one too many!

So, with all this knowledge of what not to eat or drink, how do we adapt our diet to improve sleep?

Firstly, it is important to realise that good health promotes good sleep. The body and mind requires sufficient nutrition to renew cells and provide energy. The body during sleep is sensitive to the balance between feast and famine. Too much food near to bedtime will leave the body restless as it seeks to digest and absorb the meal.

Sugar should also be avoided as it raises levels of cortisone and adrenalin in the blood. Raised cortisol suppresses growth hormone during the night inhibiting tissue repair and escalating the aging process.

Daily Diet to Improve Sleep

Start the day with a glass of warm water or warm drink to stimulate the digestive system.Breakfast is a good time to eat foods that will fuel the body and provide energy for the rest of the day. Oats, eggs, ‘traditional English’ (beware the fact and calories though..!) provide a good start to the day. This is also a good time to up the body’s intake of berries and antioxidants - blueberries, raspberries etc. all help the body’s defences. A probiotic supplement or yoghurt will also help your digestive system and prepare your gut for the rest of the day.

Lunch is often skipped or for many people dependent on where they are or what is available. Ideally this is the best time to have a balanced meal that will provide the body with its nutritional requirements and ‘bulk’ for the rest of the day. It is also long enough before the wind down to bedtime to indulge in foods that are known to inhibit sleep – spicy and fatty foods that are stimulating and take longer to digest. Try to incorporate green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds which are rich in magnesium - consider taking supplements if your diet is lacking in vitamins and minerals. Optimum nutrition will keep you in tiptop condition and enhance your ability to sleep!

Dinner is for many people a social occasion and may last (or start) near to bedtime. Ideally dinner should be lighter and avoid the stimulating curries and foods that will take longer to digest. A light meal incorporating fruit and vegetables and avoiding coffee and overindulging in alcohol should be taken early in the evening making sure that the body has a minimum of two hours without food before bedtime.

Late night snack. Herbal teas, a biscuit or a small portion of cereal with warm milk will keep hunger pains at bay…Note: warm food will be digested easier and help prepare the body for sleep. .Carbohydrates increase the level of the neurotransmitter, serotonin in the body and this is known to reduce anxiety and improve sleep.

Of course, any diet will depend on the individual’s needs, but the basis of good nutrition can be adapted to most people. Allergies and food intolerances need to be taken into account as these can also affect sleep and lead to insomnia – consult your GP before embarking on any diet or if you think you are affected.

Weight loss diets can also affect sleep leaving the body restless as it craves for familiar calories. As the body adapts to a new diet it is important to try and keep to the above recommendations as well as the calorific guidelines. Herbal teas, low calorie snacks, fruit and vegetables can all be substituted for high calorie food. Try not to starve the body during the hours prior to bed as it is likely that the mind will register starvation causing night time waking of over eating in the morning. Remember, insomnia has been linked to obesity and a desire for high calorific foods. Don’t give in!

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Ruggero
    Re: Dehydration and Insomnia
    Causality here can easily trick our minds. An inverse association between thirst and insomnia is known. This does not necessarily mean…
    28 October 2017
  • Lizzy Lu
    Re: Dehydration and Insomnia
    I suffer from pulmonary aspiration and can only handle about a cup of liquids per day. I have been chronically dehydrated since March,…
    28 July 2017
  • princess baby saedie
    Re: Feeling Too Cold to Sleep
    At night I can't sleep. I look up somuch stuff to help. I just got out of a brace about a week ago from spraining my ankle. I've…
    27 July 2017
  • Joiseyg
    Re: Dehydration and Insomnia
    Being dehydrated makes me feel exhausted so I usually drink water when I'm at that point. I drink 40-60 oz a day and have had a hard…
    10 September 2016
  • Insomniacs
    Re: Sleeping Pills - Addiction and Withdrawal
    Mary - Your Question:I was diagnosed with an Auto Immune disease in 2005 and was placed on large doses of…
    7 September 2016
  • Mary
    Re: Sleeping Pills - Addiction and Withdrawal
    I was diagnosed with an Auto Immune disease in 2005 and was placed on large doses of Prednisone, along with other…
    7 September 2016
  • Insomniacs
    Re: Sleeping Pills - Addiction and Withdrawal
    Twisty - Your Question:I have been taking zoplicone for almost. 3 yrs and want to stop how do withdraw from the…
    23 August 2016
  • Twisty
    Re: Sleeping Pills - Addiction and Withdrawal
    I have been taking zoplicone for almost. 3 yrs and want to stop how do withdraw from the pills in a safe and…
    22 August 2016
  • Insomniacs
    Re: A Holistic Approach to Insomnia
    Foggy - Your Question:Hi I need some serious help please. I have not slept now at all in nearly 3 weeks. I realised I had…
    8 August 2016
  • Foggy
    Re: A Holistic Approach to Insomnia
    hi I need some serious help please. I have not slept now at all in nearly 3 weeks. I realised I had sleep problems and so…
    7 August 2016
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the Insomniacs website. Please read our Disclaimer.