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Sleep Problems

Nutrition_Specialties_Sleep_ProblemsThere is a strong link between what we eat and how we sleep.

Several foods can prevent us from sleeping or they can interrupt our sleep due to the body’s need to process them during the night as we sleep. Other foods will promote and induce sleep. The times we eat will also affect our sleep.

Foods to avoid when trying to get a good night’s sleep are:-

  • Caffeine containing foods such as:-  tea, coffee, green tea, cola drinks, milk drinks containing coffee or chocolate, energy drinks, and sports supplements containing caffeine.  Chocolate should be avoided as it contains caffeine.
  • Vitamin B supplements should not be taken at night.  They may prevent sleep or can also cause excessive dreams or nightmares.
  • Foods that are difficult to digest should be avoided close to bed time. E.g. pizza, large amounts of steak, beans, large amounts of nuts.
  • Alcohol should be avoided late at night because even though it may induce sleep at first, it can disrupt sleep after 1am due to metabolic processes within the liver.
  • Excessive sugar intake before bed can prevent sleep.

Foods to focus on to induce and promote sleep:-

There are many foods that calm the body and induce sleep. Some of these are:-

  • Heated milk :  it must be heated to release the tryptophan which is the active agent to induce sleep.
  • Calcium rich foods such as dairy products promote sleep.  Calcium is calming to the body.
  • Magnesium rich foods or a magnesium rich supplement can be very helpful in not only inducing sleep but by preventing cramps and body aches that may wake you or keep you awake.
  • Carbohydrate rich dinners will promote serotonin production and calm the brain as well as the body this way and promote sleep.
  • Foods rich in B6 will aid sleep.  B6 is required for the production of melatonin in the body, which is a sleep inducing hormone. Melatonin calms the mind and body and regulates the sleep cycle.

It’s also important to stay upright for at least 2 hours after a meal to aid digestion, so that digestion is complete before retiring to bed.

If you are having trouble with sleep, I encourage you to make an appointment with me, and get your diet working for you!