National Sleep Awareness Week is fast approaching (March 14-20) and we have sleep on our minds! Sleep is one of the most influential factors in one’s overall health and wellbeing. Sleep has the power to make or break your day in a myriad of ways. A while a good night’s rest sounds blissful… for many, sleep just doesn’t come easily.
Whether you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, there are many strategies one can take to help improve one’s night sleep. Many choose to opt for sleeping aids, melatonin, essential oils and more. But did you know that food can actually play a huge role in your nights sleep?
Dr. Teralyn Sell, Psychotherapist and Brain Health Expert, states that “over 45% of the population say that lack of sleep impacts the quality of their lives at least 1-2 days a week. The sleep industry is a 2 billion dollar industry which means that many Americans can’t get enough sleep or can’t achieve good quality sleep overall. What you eat can impact your sleep negatively or positively. Don’t underestimate the power of food when thinking about your sleep quality. Food can help promote sleep and food can disrupt sleep. Some culprits of bad sleep include caffeine, sugar and alcohol.”
So, how does sugar, alcohol and caffeine affect sleep?
“Sugar and alcohol impact Sleep Negatively. Because of the sharp rise and fall of blood sugar after eating sugary foods before bed, sugar will negatively impact your sleep. You will notice that you will not sleep deeply or become ‘awake’ at 2 am (or just too early for your liking) because of the adrenaline rush due to reactive hypoglycemia. Additionally, though alcohol might help you fall asleep, it also disrupts every sleep phase causing you to not sleep deeply,” says Dr. Teralyn.
“Caffeine impacts sleep starting in the morning. Caffeine is a stimulant that dampens your adrenals (you know the organ that helps you manage stress) Drinking 1 cup of caffeine 6 hours before bed reduces your deep sleep by 1 hr. Caffeine has a half-life of 3-5 hours. This means that if you start drinking caffeine in the morning, you will likely still have caffeine in your system as you try to sleep.”
What are some foods that help promote a good night’s rest?
Here are Dr. Teralyn Sell’s top 5 foods to help promote a better nights sleep naturally:
FOOD #1: Collagen Protein
Proteins, such as collagen protein and poultry, have amino acids that break down into tryptophan. Tryptophan eventually creates serotonin and then melatonin which helps you sleep. Protein is taken before bed also helps to stabilize blood sugar keeping you asleep all night.
FOOD #2: Chamomile tea
Chamomile is a calming herb that has been shown to help with insomnia or disturbed sleep. It has been studied and found to be an anxiolytic and an antidepressant,
FOOD #3: Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is rich in magnesium. Magnesium is a natural relaxer. Taking a magnesium supplement before bed or soaking in Epsom salts can help you relax before bed and fall asleep easier. Magnesium has also been shown to help reduce restless leg syndrome which can impair sleep.
FOOD #4: Tart Cherry
Several research articles have been published that link drinking tart cherry juice to improved sleep. Tart cherry has a concentration of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate circadian rhythm and can help to promote healthy sleep.
FOOD #5: Oatmeal
Oatmeal is considered an anxiolytic, which can be very calming and help you relax before bed. It can also help you to stabilize blood sugar so you can experience a restful night’s sleep.