Food & sleep

The right food & drinks can make your nights a dream

What we drink and eat has a big influence on our sleep quality. It might be common knowledge that drinking coffee in the late afternoon or evening can make it more difficult to fall asleep. There are however a lot of other types of food and drink that either make us sleepy or keep us awake.  

Alcohol is one good example. We might think that having a glass will help us sleep, but though it makes us sleepy at first, drinking too much really negatively influences our sleep quality. We sleep less and with shorter phases in REM and deep sleep. As a result we wake up tired.

So what are the dos and don’ts when it comes to food and drink in order to get the best possible night’s sleep?

sleep killers

Sleep killers

For the best sleep possible we should give our metabolism a break during the night:

- Avoid foods that are difficult to digest before going to bed like for example high-fat or protein-rich foods, such as deep fried foods and red meat.

- Strong spices make sleeping through more difficult as well.

- Nicotine, caffeine and alcohol have a stimulating effect that can take several hours to wear off. If you want to have a glass of wine or a coffee, it is best to have it a few hours before going to bed.

- Drinking too much before going to sleep can lead to disruptive middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom.

- If we are too full or too hungry we can struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep. If we wake up hungry, a light snack can help us fall asleep again.

snooze food

Snooze food and drinks

Some foods help us to relax and fall asleep faster. In particular, foods that contain or promote the release of melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep.

- Tomatoes, olives, barley, rice, walnuts, milk and cherries are types of food that naturally contain large amounts of melatonin.

- Tryptophan, an essential amino acid that acts as a natural mood regulator and is the precursor to melatonin, can help us to sleep better. This can be found in foods such as wild-caught fish, turkey, sesame seeds, cashews and almonds.

- Bananas help us in two ways as they contain not only tryptophan, but also lots of magnesium, a muscle and nerve relaxant which can help ensure that we don’t wake up with cramp or muscle pain. Other magnesium-rich foods include sweet potatoes and prunes.

Sleep & food

The experts tips and advice on sleep and nutrition

We can really eat ourselves to a better night's sleep. Dr. med Lutz Grauman, Phd & specialist in sports medicine, nutrition and chirotherapy and member of the Dagsmejan medical advisory board, explores which type of food that will make sleeping hard work and what to eat to fall asleep.

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