Ok, so we know that sleep is super important – without proper sleep we can’t think, modulate our moods, repair our bodies or achieve all those wonderful things we want to do in our lives.
We have touched on the some easy lifestyle factors that can help our sleep (see last weeks blog), so now we are going to run through how you can eat your way to a restful sleep.
We have all heard the saying ‘you can’t out-exercise a bad diet’ right?, the same is true for food and sleep – you can’t out-sleep a bad diet!
So lets dive in:
1/ Reduce your ‘heating’ foods:
You don’t need to be a traditional chinese medicine guru to grasp the concept that filling up on heating (read ‘Stimulating’) foods aren’t going to be the best idea when we are trying to wind down.
There aren’t going to be many times you find me asking you to cut back on garlic and chilli…..but this may be one of them!
2/ Seriously – cut back on the booze:
This is a biggie. There is absolutely NO getting around this one (yes, I have my stern face on).
Drinking. Alcohol. Will. Ruin. Your. Sleep.
Alcohol has been shown to reduce your sleep initiation time (time it takes to get to sleep) – sounds good right? Until you wake a few hours later as your liver is trying to process the alcohol.
Alcohol also shortens the amount of time that you spend in deep sleep (this is the stuff you want – the time when you are repairing and processing) – this is (one of the reasons) why you can sleep for 10 hours after a few drinks and still feel rubbish the next day.
3/ Reduce your caffeine intake:
For a couple of reasons – if you have insomnia, chances are, your nervous system is struggling to cope with the lack of sleep, caffeine is going to wreak havoc with this already delicate situation (we all know how ‘touchy’ we can be when we are sleep deprived – if you don’t, go and speak to a mum of a newborn baby for a while).
Also, caffeine has a half live of 5-6 hours (‘half life’ is how long it takes for half of a substance to be removed from your body), meaning that a coffee drunk at 1pm can still be affecting you at 11pm.
If you are taking the OCP, please be more careful, caffeine is metabolised even slower in many OCP users!
I like to change to a decaf coffee (water filtered please!) or a dandelion root ‘coffee’ in the afternoon. Dandelion root also supports clearance of toxins via the liver…win win situation!
4/ Increase your intake of Tryptophan foods:
Tryptophan is a fabulous little neurotransmitter that is converted to melatonin (the neurotransmitter that promotes healthy sleep cycles), so support this pathway with some of these foods high in tryptophan:
♥ Bananas ♥ Beef, Fish ♥ Lentils ♥ Dairy products (please choose organic!) ♥ Oats
♥ Pumpkin seeds, Seasame seeds
Of course, please be sensible with this – if you are unable to tolerate some of these foods, the discomfort you will experience will outweigh the benefits of the tryptophan!
5/ Make kiwifruit your new bestie!
Part of being a self-confessed ‘food nerd’ is coming across fabulous natural health research:)
The study I just read followed participants that consumed 2 kiwifruits, 1 hour before bed for 4 weeks…..and Ill be goddanged if the results weren’t positive.
The trial conclusion was ‘Kiwifruit consumption may improve sleep onset, duration, and efficiency in adults with self-reported sleep disturbances’ (Lin et al, 2011, P.169)
Kiwifruit is an incredible source of fibre and antioxidants as well – regulating bowel function – there will be no constipation the next morning!
6/ Make sure you eat enough:
Ok, so I’m not an advocate of stuffing yourself at your evening meal (you simply don’t need all that energy), but you also need to make sure you eat enough to not wake up hungry in the night.
As with everything, nutrition is a highly personalised area – what is good for me may not be good for you.
We MUST not take a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
These guidelines are here to help, to start you off and to contribute to your path to sleep!
My passion is helping people feel well – I absolutely love it:)
If you would like an individualised plan to help you sleep well, feel well and live well, please contact me.
xx Katie B (BHSc.)
– Hsiao-Han Lin Ms’, Pei-Shan Tsai PhD^, Su-Chen Fang MS”, Jen-Fang Liu PhD, 2011,
‘Effect of kiwifruit consumption on sleep quality in adults with sleep problems’, Asia Pacfiic Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol 20, No 2, retrieved 16 Jan 2015.