Trouble sleeping? What you eat could be the reason

Regardless of how much sleep you get, if you wake up not feeling rested, you are probably sleep-deprived. While many factors influence our sleep, one way to get better sleep is to eat the right kinds of food. So, if you have trouble sleeping, what you are eating could be the cause.

Foods that affect your sleep

Researchers have found that eating a diet high in sugar, saturated fat, and processed carbohydrates can disrupt your sleep. To improve your sleep, avoid the following foods and beverages:

  • Acidic foods like onions, tomatoes, garlic, and citrus fruits –  these can lead to heartburn  
  • Alcohol – while it may help you fall asleep faster, it negatively affects the quality of your sleep
  • Caffeinated foods and beverages like coffee, tea, chocolate, coffee-flavoured desserts, and decaf coffee
  • High-fat foods like butter, cheese, fatty cuts of meat, and anything fried in oil

In addition to avoiding food that may influence your sleep, it is also important not to eat just before going to bed. This will cause your digestive system to process your food while you want to sleep, which may prohibit you from sleeping. It is also best not to have a heavy meal at dinner time, not only for keeping extra weight off, but also for better sleep as you will be less likely to experience heartburn.

One way to get better sleep is to eat the right kinds of food. In addition to supporting your immune system to fight off infections, a nutrient-dense diet will also provide you with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that possess sleep-promoting properties. Here are some examples of foods that promote sleep:

Bananas: Eating bananas before bedtime supplies the important sleep promoters tryptophan and melatonin. Melatonin can help regulate an irregular sleep cycle by signalling your body that it’s time to fall asleep.

Dairy products like milk and yoghurt promote quality sleep in two ways. They contain tryptophan, a sleep-inducer, and calcium, which can help with muscle relaxation.

Pineapples: Eating pineapple before bedtime may help you fall asleep by increasing melatonin levels in your system.

Avocados may provide sleep benefits to those with a vitamin B9 or folate deficiency. They are rich in folate, which stimulates the production of numerous neurotransmitters, such as melatonin and serotonin.

Kiwi fruit is rich in antioxidants and serotonin – both compounds that can help with difficulty falling asleep or waking up in the middle of the night.

Boiled eggs: Eggs contain melatonin, so including them in a balanced and varied diet could help reduce the risk of experiencing poor-quality sleep.

Herbal tea: Non-caffeinated herbal teas, especially chamomile, have sedative properties that can promote relaxation, helping you to fall asleep.