Foods That are Helping (and Hindering) your Sleep

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Nutrition and sleep are important components of a healthy lifestyle, as these two factors go hand-in-hand. Going to bed shortly after a coffee or a spicy meal, and you’re bound to toss and turn. Let’s take a look at some foods that can contribute to a good night’s rest and others that will hinder it.

For optimum rest, it’s best to consume your evening meal no later than three hours before bed; opt for both a healthy carbohydrate and protein together. 

The neurotransmitters that manufacture serotonin, which is metabolized into the sleep hormone, melatonin, are affected by caffeine, so avoid caffeine and chocolate bars before bed. Swap the coffee for a cup of chamomile tea or hot milk, as milk contains helpful tryptophan.  

Tryptophan is an amino acid found in many protein-rich foods. It is an important element of melatonin production. Red meat, such as steak, is a great source of protein, but it is advisable to avoid consuming it in the evenings because the digestive process is slow, and may affect your circadian rhythm. A list of alternatives can be found here.

If you’re looking to have a healthy salad for dinner, ensure that it contains some protein. Salad greens contain a high concentration of water—eating a green salad at night may lead to late-night bathroom trips. Tomatoes and raw onions have also been linked to heartburn and indigestion.

Chilies are linked to weight loss because they raise your core temperature, thus burning more calories at rest, however, since spicy foods raise your core temperature, it makes it harder for your body to naturally cool down as it prepares for sleep. Curry or a dash of sriracha in the evening can also result in heartburn or acid reflux. 

Research shows that people who sleep on their backs are more likely to suffer from this condition more than side sleepers because the acid from your stomach can flow freely into your esophagus. This can be countered by finding the right bed to suit your own sleeping position or if you are prone to digestive problems at night, an adjustable mattress. According to, there is a suitable and optimum bed for every type of sleeping position. 

Lovers of sushi can enjoy their meal because the fish contains nutrients conducive to a peaceful night’s sleep. Watch the soy sauce! Many people add extra salt to their plates. High salt intake in the evenings can lead to dehydration at night. You may wake up during the night for a drink of water, which in turn may have you waking up again to urinate. 

Another culprit of interrupted rest is cramping. This can be managed by including magnesium in your diet. It has a  myriad of health benefits. Include it in your diet by eating green leafy vegetables, figs, bananas, and avocados. You will enjoy a better night’s sleep, allowing your body to recover from the stresses of the day.

Making a few simple changes to your daily nutritional intake can have an astounding effect on the rest you enjoy at night.


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