Restless nights and continual tossing and turning getting you upset? Sleep is an essential requirement for the body to heal and self-regulate its processes. In addition, sleep may inversely affect our size. The Center of Disease Control reports that 66 percent of adults are obese or overweight. Average women sleepers only get six hours and 40 minutes of sleep on weeknights compares to six hours and 54 minutes seven years ago, and an average of nine to 10 hours of sleep a night a century ago. Obviously, on average we are sleeping less and seemingly eating foods that increase our waistlines, but the trend can be reversed. New relationships between food and sleep have been found to give the sleep-deprived hope. Scientists say that certain healthy foods can calm the nervous system and initiate a hormonal response to induce sleep. Learn more about how to eat for better sleep and start getting the shut-eye your body desperately craves.
Eat Smarter and Sleep Better
Here are the top recommendations experts suggest:
- Avoid skipping midday meals and having a large late dinner. Skipping meals has been found to throw off the body’s normal sleep pattern. Hormonal changes are believed to be the cause. Big, late dinners stimulate rather than calm the digestive system with an increase in blood flow, secretion of additional gastric acid, and causing intestinal muscles and the pancreas to work harder.
- Eat often and start early. Breakfast should be a mix of carbs and protein, such as eggs paired with whole wheat toast. Then spread out six meals of 250-300 calories throughout the day. Eat a small nutritious meal every couple of hours to maintain a good balance of hormones and neurotransmitters.
- Avoid the canapes. Cheese plates, mini meatballs and other high-fat and spicy foods have been attributed to indigestion and reflux. This can negatively impact your sleep schedule.
- Turn to a fifty-fifty mix of protein and carbs for a light night snack that ups serotonin levels. Suggestions include a 6 ounces low-fat yogurt and handful of berries, half of a whole wheat pita smeared with 2 tablespoons of hummus, and 6 whole-grain crackers and a few walnuts. All combos are under 200 calories.
- Get your daily dose of vitamins and minerals in food to eat for better sleep.
- B Vitamins found in sources including chicken breast, salmon, bananas, potatoes and fortified cereals.
- Calcium found in low-fat yogurt, cheese, fortified orange juice and milk.
- Zinc found in oysters, Alaska king crab, beef and fortified cereal.
- Iron found in clams, oysters, dark-meat turkey and beef tenderloin.
- Copper such as in whole grains, nuts, beans, potatoes and dark leafy greens.
Meeting vitamin and mineral requirements help regulate serotonin, reduce symptoms similar to that of restless leg syndrome, and relax the nervous system.
Start to eat for better sleep today and strike a dietary balance that naturally promotes calming levels of hormone production.