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CATEGORY: SLEEP
CATEGORY: Nutrients in Food
Top 10 Nutrition Recommendations for a Restful Sleep
Scientific evidence supports that nutrient rich foods can provide us with the nutrients we need for our general health and wellbeing.
Restful sleep
Nutrients work best synergistically from natural food sources, rich in nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, essential fatty acids, and antioxidants.
That’s good to know because your diet has a lot to do with the quality of the sleep you will get!
There are many things you can add to your afternoon and evening routine, that will help you to fall asleep more easily and promote a more restful sleep.
 
Here are some of our recommendations:
  1. The evening meals should be geared towards relaxation and good digestion. Foods high in Tryptophan will help promote better sleep. Tryptophan serves as a precursor for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps the body to regulate appetite, sleep patterns, and mood.
     
    Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, one that our bodies cannot manufacture and which we must therefore get from our diet. Excellent sources of Tryptophan rich foods are: shrimp, Crimini mushrooms, cod, tuna, chicken, scallops, turkey, tofu, lamb, grass-fed beef, sardines, and salmon. These foods for dinner make an excellent foundation of your main meal choices.
     
    Vegetables that are very good tryptophan sources are: spinach, soybeans, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, Swiss chard, and kale. Build your dinner around these Tryptophan rich food sources and see how this changes your sleep quality.
  2. Avoid caffeine in the four to six hours before bedtime. Caffeine drinkers may find it difficult to fall asleep. Once they drift off, their sleep is shorter and lighter. For some people, a single cup of coffee in the morning means a sleepless night. That may be because caffeine blocks the effects of adenosine, a neurotransmitter thought to promote sleep.
     
    People who suffer from insomnia should avoid caffeine as much as possible, since its effects can endure for many hours. Because caffeine withdrawal can cause headache, irritability, and extreme fatigue, some people find it easier to cut back gradually than to go cold turkey. Those who can’t or don’t want to give up caffeine should avoid it after 2 p.m., or noon if they are especially caffeine-sensitive.
    Source: Improving Sleep: A Guide to a Good Night’s Rest, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
  3. Avoid alcohol in the four to six hours before bedtime. Also, alcohol depresses the nervous system, so a nightcap can help some people fall asleep. However, the quality of this sleep is abnormal. Alcohol suppresses REM sleep. Drinkers have frequent awakenings and sometimes frightening dreams. Alcohol may be responsible for up to 10% of chronic insomnia cases. Also, because alcohol relaxes throat muscles and interferes with brain control mechanisms, it can worsen snoring and other breathing problems.
    Source: Improving Sleep: A Guide to a Good Night’s Rest, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
  4. Do not eat large meals within two hours of your bedtime. Your emphasis should be on low-to-medium glycemic index carbohydrates, such as: whole grains, a mixed green salad or lightly sautéed vegetables rather than high-glycemic index, blood-sugar-elevating carbohydrates.
     
    Food choices with a high glycemic index are: white potatoes, corn, oats, rice, bananas, orange juice, pineapple, figs, raisins, cantaloupe, and watermelon.
     
    Food choices with a low glycemic index are: lentils, garbanzo beans, split peas, soymilk, navy beans, pinto beans, most vegetables, like: spinach, lettuce, zucchini, asparagus, celery, cucumber, radishes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, eggplants, onions, tomatoes, cauliflower, bell peppers, green peas, squash.
  5. Include a small portion of a healthy fat containing food such as: olive oil, avocado, nuts, or seeds.
  6. Include herbal teas that are non-stimulating, like chamomile or peppermint.
  7. Avoid sugar! If a dessert is desired, eat a moderate amount of fruit. Fresh fruit lightly steamed with cinnamon on top makes a great dessert!
  8. Avoid brain stimulants like: bacon, cheese, chocolate, eggplant, ham, potatoes, sauerkraut, sugar, sausage, tomatoes, and wine close to bedtime. These foods contain tyramine, which increases the release of norepinephrine, a brain stimulant.
  9. Exercise in the late afternoon to make your body tired.
  10. Take a hot bath an hour or two before bedtime.
Try these recommendations and see how your sleep improves.
This article was originally written by Silke Heine, for Plymouth ENT.
If you have any further questions about your diet and the impact it has on your health, please contact Silke Heine, Holistic Nutrition Practitioner, PhD, owner of Simplify Holistic Nutrition Consulting.
If your sleep issues continue to persist, we suggest finding a specialist, like the great doctors at Plymouth ENT, take a look. Their doctors are board certified in Otolaryngology, as well as sleep medicine. They also have a wonderful blog filled with health resources. You can check out here: Plymouth ENT Blog.
Yours in Health,
Silke Heine, PhD