What to Eat to Support Sleep
  • Gabriela Slater
  • 18 Nov 2020

What to Eat to Support Sleep

We all need sleep but every day an alarming number of people have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep through the night. Sleep is very important it rejuvenates the body and mind.

We need sleep for:

  • Immune system function: Sleep deprivation can lead to lower immunity.
  • Memory / Concentration and Mood: Sleep deprivation affects how we react in everyday situations.
  • Fertility: Testosterone is produce during REM sleep and also the female menstrual cycle can be effected by lack of sleep.
  • Energy Levels and Appetite Regulation: When people are sleep deprived they tend to eat more, crave sugar and carbohydrates to improve energy levels.

Blood Sugar Regulation

Blood sugar regulation is one of the first steps to improve sleeping patterns. After eating refined carbohydrates and sugars from foods such as: cakes, biscuits, white bread, white pasta, sugary drinks we experience a spike in blood sugar level. Leading to feeling energized and alert at first, but when the blood sugar levels drop you feel anxious, tired and irritable.

Keeping the blood sugar levels stable through the day can help to get a restful night sleep.

Eat complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, quinoa, sweet potatoes, brown rice as they will release their sugar slowly and will not lead to spikes in blood sugar levels. Also combine carbohydrates with proteins as they will slow down the digestion processes.

Eat Foods Rich in Tryptophan: Turkey, Bananas, Tuna, Chicken and Oats

Tryptophan cannot be produced in the body, it is one of the essential amino acid and it needs to be obtained from food. Tryptophan is converted in the body into a neurotransmitter called serotonin and then to melatonin.

Melatonin’s main role in the brain is to regulate the sleep/wake cycle. It is produced in the light- sensitive pineal gland in the centre of the brain. During the day, serotonin levels are low but during the evening the levels increase and as it gets darker melatonin is produced.

Foods rich in tryptophan need to be consumed with complex carbohydrates to aid tryptophan delivery to the brain.

Examples of good food combinations are: turkey with brown rice and some vegetables, oat cakes with banana, chicken with whole meal pasta and vegetables.

Increase Magnesium Intake – Green Leafy Vegetables: Kale, Broccoli, Spinach, Asparagus

Magnesium is a potent muscle relaxant, consuming foods rich in this mineral in the evening can help you to relax and drift off to sleep more easily. Magnesium also helps to support the function of the neurotransmitter GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid). GABA is a chemical messenger that helps us to sleep.

Drink Tart Cherry Juice

A number of studies have confirmed the benefits of drinking tart cherry juice on sleep. People who drank two cups of cherry juice per day had better total sleep time.

The benefits may be due to the fact that cherries have very high concentrations of melatonin and that helps to regulate the circadian rhythm and promote healthy sleep. Tart cherries may also have an antioxidant effect that helps you to sleep.

Reduce Caffeine Intake

Drinks that contain caffeine such as tea, coffee, hot chocolate, coco cola, when drank in the afternoon can keep you awake at night as they have stimulating effects.

Avoid Large Meals 2 Hours Before Going to Bed

When going to bed soon after a large meal the digestive system will continue working and disturb sleep. If you are still hungry in the evening have an oat cake with a few slices of banana up to 45 minutes before going to bed.

Avoid Exposure to Blue Light up to 1 Hour Before Going to Bed

Light from TVs, mobile phone, tablets and other electronic equipment tricks the brain into thinking that its daytime slowing the release of melatonin. Darkness aids the release of melatonin that makes us sleepy.

Introduce Relaxing Activities

To help to wind down in the evening, try light stretching, meditation, relaxing music and breathing exercises that calm the body and mind to prepare you for sleep. A warm bath with chamomile or lavender oil and some Magnesium Flakes can have calming and sleep promoting properties.

Call me on 07947357956 to find out how you can benefit from Nutrition Coaching.

Gabriela xx