Millions of Americans struggle with chronic sleep issues. The CDC reports that more than a third of adults fail to get adequate sleep on a regular basis. There are many factors that inform an individual’s ability to get the rest they need. Most people are familiar with the impact of stress, health issues and pain, but many are unaware of the impact our diets have on the duration and quality of our sleep. As people flock to the internet to find solutions for their disrupted sleep habits, information about diet is plentiful but can be incomplete. For example, some folks suggest cutting out meat to improve sleep, but that’s only part of the story. Improving sleep with dietary tips consists of many factors.
High meat consumption can disrupt sleep, especially as people age. However, cutting out meat entirely can result in vitamin deficiencies for some that worsen sleep issues. The main problem with meat and sleep is that due to its high fat and protein content, it’s harder to break down, causing disruption to rest. It can also trigger indigestion. Therefore it’s important not to eat meat close to bedtime. Additionally, a diet that contains too much meat can lead to heart and weight issues which are disruptive to sleep as well.
Knowing what to eat and drink and when is important for getting a handle on good rest. You already know that caffeine and sugar are sleep disruptors, especially when enjoyed later in the day. Keep reading to arm yourself with more dietary tips to improve sleep from Whitney Sleep.
Eat Breakfast and Snack Throughout the Day
The actions we take during the day impact our sleep at night. Because sleep is closely linked to the balance of our body’s many systems, it’s important to set yourself up for success by practicing healthy eating habits during the day. A 2018 study found that skipping breakfast has an adverse effect on sleep quality. Eating breakfast kicks your body into action, helping it manage energy and blood sugar throughout the day. Snacks work similarly, keeping you fueled and helping you avoid midday slumps and calorie deficiencies that can trigger sleep issues. If your body is lacking adequate nutrition, it will signal hunger while you’re trying to sleep. Additionally, when people don’t eat enough during the day, they tend to go overboard in the evening. Heavy meals before bedtime disrupt sleep with bloating, indigestion and strain on our digestive system.
Get Your Fiber
We live in a world where it’s easy to opt for high-fat and sugary foods. They’re convenient and they’re tasty. They’re also disturbing our sleep. Our diets are noticeably lacking in fiber, which is one of the most important dietary contributors to healthy sleep. Increasing fiber while cutting out fats and sugars as much as possible will help you get higher-quality, more restorative sleep. The good news is that there are a number of delicious, convenient high-fiber foods. Dark-colored vegetables like broccoli, nuts and seeds, potatoes, beans and whole grains are all great sources for fiber. Apples and berries are high-fiber alternatives for satisfying your sweet tooth without resulting in a sugar crash that can disturb your rest. Incorporate fiber into your breakfast and snacks.
Enjoy Smart Nighttime Treats
There’s something comfortable about beginning your bedtime routine with a snack and a drink. As long as you choose them mindfully, there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, the right choices can actually help you drift off to slumber and get a better night’s rest. While an alcoholic nightcap is traditional, it’s not a good choice for quality sleep. As a sedative, alcohol will knock you out faster, but because it throws you into deep sleep quickly it actually disrupts your sleep cycles and results in more wakefulness and less restorative rest. Milk and tart cherry juice are comforting alternatives to alcohol that actually provide benefits to your rest, helping you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. When it comes to satisfying nighttime snack cravings, consider a sugar-free cereal, oatmeal or a banana. All of these have sleep-helpful properties. Nutritionist Colleen Christiensen has a recipe for a lavender and banana ice-cream alternative that may be just what the sleep doctor ordered.
Get Healthier Sleep with Whitney Sleep
Confronting sleep issues can be overwhelming for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that you’re tired. Whitney Sleep understands that struggle and provides consultative diagnostic and treatment services and sleep guidance in a one-on-one setting. We prioritize your comfort and make sure to learn about your experiences and any questions or concerns you may have. Our certified sleep medicine specialists will devise a treatment plan based on your needs and ability, informed by an at-home or in-office sleep study. Whitney Sleep is a champion for sleep health and we’re firmly in your corner.