Eating for sleep
Improve sleep by eating right
First, a little basic science.
Proteins are the building blocks of tryptophan, an essential amino acid in our diet that our body uses for many things. Tryptophan helps to create the hormones melatonin and serotonin, both of which help us to relax and sleep. When we eat carbohydrate-containing foods, the tryptophan contained in them is more available for our brain to use.
When we eat foods that are high in protein without eating a carbohydrate as well, our bodies produce tyrosine, which stimulates our brain, making it more difficult to sleep.
So the ideal bedtime snack is one that contains higher levels of carbohydrates and calcium, with medium-to-low levels of protein. When you’re planning a bedtime snack, keep in mind that it takes about an hour for tryptophan to reach your brain and work its magic. If you really need a snack, try to eat it at least an hour before bedtime.
Sleep-happy bedtime snacks you can enjoy any night of the week:
It’s not time for bed yet, and you’re trying to decide what to eat for dinner. As with your bedtime snack, opt for a meal that combines protein with carbohydrates.
What you eat has quite an effect on how you sleep later on. The goal is to calm yourself rather than stimulate yourself. So when there’s a choice, pick foods that contribute to helping you sleep.