Getting a good nights sleep should be one of the simplest and most natural things to be able to do. But busy lives and busy schedules make us less likely to eat properly, and poor eating habits can prevent us from developing good sleep hygiene.
When we are busy, we tend to eat less than we should during the day, and then we eat so much more than necessary in the evening to make up for it, which is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing.
We should be aware of how certain foods can affect sleep patterns. Protein-heavy foods simulate reactions in the body that keep us alert, and eating large meals just before bed can cause indigestion and heartburn – a perfect combination to keep you up at night.
Low-fat, high carbohydrate meals are digested faster, and to stimulate different body reactions – that will help facilitate relaxation and sleep. So it is best to choose a high-protein breakfast and lunch to stay awake and lucid during the day, and save the carbs for dinner.
If you’re like most people, caffeine is a stimulant, so a cup of java before hitting the sack is probably not wise. Both caffeine and alcohol can interfere with normal sleep, you may be able to fall asleep, but not for long. Therefore, it is difficult to reach the deeper – and more relaxing – sleep phase, so that even with eight hours, you are still slow and groggy in the morning. It is also likely that you will be awoken from your sleep with a full bladder, as caffeine and alcohol act as diuretics.
Should I snack or not before going to bed depends on your usual pattern before you go to bed. If dinner is small and lightweight (and earlier), then a light snack is fine, if you feel that helps you sleep and you can afford the calories. Calcium-rich foods such as milk and yogurt are good choices, because calcium helps muscles to relax.
To sum up:
1. Have a light dinner; focus on salads, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans for example. A bowl of soup with a salad, and fruit for dessert.
2. If you know that caffeine keeps you awake, avoid drinks containing caffeine for 6-8 hours before going to bed – Keep your alcohol consumption moderate to avoid sleep disturbance.
3. Drink fluids throughout the day, and cut back after dinner. If you take any medication at bedtime, use only a small amount of water.
4. If you like having a snack before bed, include foods that are rich in calcium to induce muscle relaxation. A cup of warm milk is a remedy for insomnia through-out the ages, and for good reason.