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How Nutrition Affects Sleep

Posted by Elizebath Bijoy Friday, March 11, 2011

For many of you out there, it seems some days or nights we just don’t get enough sleep. 
Between work, family and other obligations, it’s no surprise that it can be hard to unwind 
when our heads hit the pillow.

There are many factors that affect sleep, including what you eat and drink. What and when 
you consume food can impact sleep habits. Research shows that food and sleep have a 
connection in terms of eating too much or eating too late. Sometimes a little something 
to eat right before bed (if your stomach is rumbling) can satisfy that hunger and not affect 
your rest, but try to avoid heavy meals. If you're not used to eating late or as much, it can be 
difficult to go to sleep if you're too full.

There are some foods or drinks that might make it harder to fall asleep, while others might 
just make it a little easier. Try to avoid anything caffeinated or containing alcohol. Try to 
cut caffeine intake about 4-6 hours before bedtime; it can remain in your body for hours and 
that keep you counting sheep.

As for alcohol, it may help you relax a bit and fall asleep faster at first, but it can also cause 
disturbances in sleep. Stick to a warm beverage like milk, water or decaffeinated tea.
Some foods can be better than others when it comes to encourage sleep. Tryptophan, 
which is a sleep-promoting substance, has been noted to induce tiredness. This amino 
acid is what the body uses to make serotonin, the neurotransmitter that slows down brain 
nerve traffic. Foods that contain this natural chemical include that good old standard – milk.
Other foods containing tryptophan include dairy products (yogurt, cottage cheese), tuna, 
poultry, beans, whole grains, sunflower seeds, peanuts and peanut butter, bananas, and rice.
Eat well and try to relax at bedtime. Let the stresses of the day leave your body – feel 
yourself getting sleepy!



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