Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial to how well we function throughout the day. On the other hand, certain things we do during the day can also affect our sleep. The food we eat plays a large role in the quality of sleep we get later in the night. And, it is a bit more complicated than just eating healthy. There are specific foods that lend themselves to better sleep, while others keep us awake.
Let’s determine which foods act as relaxers and which act as stimulants.
Foods that Keep Us Awake
Bananas contain high levels of vitamins B and C, as well as fiber, omega-3 and omega-6. And perhaps one of the more important aspects of bananas that help to fight fatigue is electrolytes. Electrolytes, coupled with a healthy amount of water, help to keep the body alert throughout the day.
Yogurt aids the fight against fatigue with vitamin B12 and probiotics. Together, these help to improve digestion. The body more quickly absorbs the vitamins, creating a bit of an energy burst after eating.
Salmon is a great choice for lunch,as it contains high levels of omega-3, which our bodies can easily convert into energy. It is also relatively easy for your body to digest, meaning that you become less tired after eating.
Dark Chocolate can be an awesome afternoon pick-me-up. Returning to the office after a long lunch break can be difficult for your body. Having a few pieces of dark chocolate can help to increase your concentration and fight mid-day tiredness.
Avocados are filled with healthy fats. These fats come from monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. These promote healthy blood fat levels and therefore enhanced absorption of nutrients. Once the body has absorbed these nutrients, it is more alert and ready to function.
Foods that Help Us Sleep
White Rice is a popular choice for dinner, as it provides carbohydrates in combination with high levels of folate, thiamin, and manganese. In fact, white rice is so high in these nutrients that it provides around 15-20% of your recommended daily intake of each. This combination results in a high glycemic index, which has been found to increase sleep quality.
Almonds contain melatonin, a hormone commonly taken artificially to induce sleep. Eating almonds before bed is a natural way to increase your level of melatonin and thus lead to a deeper and longer night’s sleep.
Milk, similar to almonds, contains levels of melatonin and tryptophan which are commonly associated with improved sleep. However, milk has another unique connection with sleep; the psychological effect of drinking milk before bed as a baby. Studies have shown that this connection, even if not practiced throughout life, remains in the brain and is conducive to sleep in adulthood.
Chicken and Turkey also contain tryptophan, an amino acid that produces serotonin. Serotonin, in turn, acts as a mood relaxer, and thus, as a sleep inducer. Poultry is certainly a better choice than red meat for a hearty dinner before bed if you crave a more restful night’s sleep.
Honey has, of course, high levels of glucose. While you may associate glucose with sugar and energy boosts, the glucose in honey lowers orexin levels. Orexin is a neurotransmitter in the brain which keeps you alert. Thus, a lowering of this lends itself to sleep. You can also pair honey with certain herbal teas, such as chamomile, which are biologically conducive to sleep as well.
Next time you’re planning a late-night dinner or a midnight snack, take these tips into account so you can enjoy your food AND your sleep (hopefully on an Emma mattress)!