Eat Better, Sleep Better

     How much sleep you get can make or break your day and also your health. Read on for some tips for how to get a better sleep by some simple changes to your diet.

     Eating more plant carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains, can have a significant impact on your slumber. These foods help to produce a gradual, steady rise of blood insulin, helping the entrance into the brain of the amino acid tryptophan, a neurotransmitter that helps induce sleepiness and improve mood. (This explains why a glass of warm milk before bed can help to improve sleep, as it provides a dose of tryptophan while also inducing a release of insulin.)

     It’s important to eliminate the foods and drinks that can disturb sleep. Caffeine—found in soda, coffee, some teas, and chocolate—will interfere with sleep if you ingest it within four hours of bedtime—sometimes even within six hours. Alcohol can cause drowsiness, but metabolizing the sugar can disrupt slumber and also cause body temperature to rise too much. Sugary foods eaten right before bed can also raise body temperature and leave you restless during the night.

     Diet can also indirectly affect your sleep. If you’re overweight, you’re more likely to experience sleep apnea and its symptoms of heavy snoring and interrupted breathing. Eating a lot of simple carbohydrates (sugary treats) and refined starches (white flour and white rice), which cause blood sugar to spike and fall, may cause an imbalance in the hormones that regulate metabolism, disrupting the body’s natural rhythms and thus disrupting sleep.

     It may not require a total makeover of your diet to reap the benefits of good sleep, but even some minor adjustments with these tips in mind can be helpful. The changes you make will not only improve your sleep but your overall health. There’s nothing to lose in making these changes—except your sleep troubles!

Tina Turbin

Posted in Advice, Children's Author, healthy eating, Helpful Tips, moms, women
Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

29 Responses to Eat Better, Sleep Better

  1. Holly says:

    I agree 100% that diet has a lot to do with sleeping well. There are also a lot of healthy, natural supplements and vitamins that can help with sleep.

  2. Georgette says:

    Thanks for this piece Tina, and Holly I agree with you on the vitamin supplements. I take a calcium-magnesium-zinc before bed now, and I’ve noticed a tremendous difference in my quality of sleep!

  3. Marion Feeney says:

    Thanks Tina for these tips. I had no idea about the importance of eating plant carbohydrates and their effect on insulin levels. Very interesting! Keep up the good work!

  4. Janet Plining says:

    I really swear by regular exercise. I sleep like a baby when I’m active! Also of course you’ll need to take enough nutritional supplements for your exercise regimen, such as calcium and magnesium for your bones and nerves and electrolytes for when you sweat.

  5. Francoise says:

    I agree with Janet about exercise. It has made a HUGE difference in my sleep routine! I only suggest that women make sure not to work out too late in the day, as it can make you pretty wired come bedtime.

  6. Lisa Benardi says:

    Thank you Tina and thanks to the guys above for your tips. Yet one more reason to start eating better.

  7. Julia Hodges says:

    Thanks Tina for these articles on sleep. I just read one on your other blog at http://tinaturbin.com. Looking forward to better sleep!

  8. Erin says:

    I am going to follow these tips and let you know how it goes! I can really see how diet has SO much to do with sleep.

  9. Georgette says:

    Wow lol I just came across this while I’m having trouble trying to fall asleep. It’s so true that my diet really could use some improvement. Can’t wait to give these ideas a try.

  10. Melissa Jacobs says:

    thanks for these really practical tips, tina, I will be sure to use them:)

  11. Flora says:

    I started following this interesting assortment of sleep-better tips from you and the readers above and my sleep really has been better! Eating better foods and cutting out caffeine has also really helped!

  12. Larissa says:

    You know, I find that diet really helps with my sleep. I eat a high-protein snack about an hour before bed, and it’s much easier for me to go to sleep. When I eat dinner at 6 pm and go to bed around midnight, a late-night snack really helps! I don’t know the science behind it, but all I know is that I feel full and satisfied so I’m not thinking about food as I’m falling asleep.

  13. Kelly S says:

    There are some Chinese herbs I think that can help with sleep problems. My mom used to have problems with sleep, and I believe that’s what she did to handle it.

  14. Amanda Thompson says:

    Thanks for this. I have to change my diet for sure!

  15. Chelsea says:

    This is such a great article when you apply it to kids. I find that the less sugar and more protein I feed my kids, they are much easier to put to sleep and have less sleep troubles (bad dreams).

  16. Vicky Dill says:

    I have completely overhauled the family’s diet, and I have noticed such a difference in our energy levels during the day as well as my quality of sleep. I have cut out breads and pastas, except some whole wheat, high-fiber products every now and then. It’s all about delicious meats and salads.

  17. Miriam says:

    I totally agree that, unless you have some health condition, diet is the most significant influence on sleep. It doesn’t have to be a whole overhaul to get better sleep–some more vitamins, such as calcium and magnesium, and a balanced intake of the rest of the required vitamins are sometimes enough for me!

  18. Heather says:

    I finally had to cut out my precious glass of wine that I have with dinner every night. At first I wasn’t exactly thrilled about it, then I began sleeping like baby and haven’t looked back!

  19. Judith says:

    Yes! I agree with Miriam above. I think that if you want to really see the correlation between diet and sleep, just look at your kids!

  20. Denise says:

    Yes vitamins vitamins vitamins! If you’re getting everything you need in balance during the day, it really makes a difference with sleep and so many other things!

  21. Norma Barry says:

    I am going to give the calcium-magnesium supplement a try! My midwife recommended it to me when I was pregnant to help get to sleep and it helped then, so it will probably help now!

  22. Liz Chase says:

    I totally changed everything about my diet…started eating breakfast, drank less caffeine, ate less sugar, ate more vegetables, and I’m sleeping like a baby now. Not to mention all the other benefits.

  23. Lisa Benardi says:

    I’m very lucky I don’t have any sleep problems. Maybe it’s because I do take care of myself and have been doing so for years.

  24. Gillian says:

    Oh my goodness, what a hot topic! SLEEP! I’m so excited to try everyone’s tips here because I’m definitely a member of Sleep-Deprived America.

  25. Georgette says:

    I’ve been following these tips for a few weeks now and I have noticed quite a difference in my sleep. Tina’s tips are wonderful as well as some from the commenters such as Miriam’s about calcium and magnesium. I take this in a liquid supplement before bed and it relaxes me and helps me sleep more deeply.

  26. Aurora says:

    Hmmm yeah I could definitely use a diet makeover myself!

  27. Carrie says:

    Hi, Tina, thanks so much for your wonderful tips. I have been blessed with amazing sleep, but every once in a while I have trouble, so I’ll refer to this when that happens!

  28. Norma says:

    Here’s one for you: don’t drink liquids before bed so you don’t have to get up in the middle of the night! LOL It seems so obvious, but it’s made all the difference for me (and of course my little ones who used to have problems bed-wetting). I drink plenty of water all day long and after 10 pm (I go to bed around 1 am) I don’t have anything except the smallest sips. Then I sleep through the night!

  29. Nadia says:

    So many people watch sugar intake of their kids, but you should too! Sugar gets me hyper as well and I think this negatively affects my sleep.

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