We spend greater than 30% of our lives sleeping. And, good sleep is vital to our health: It regulates our appetite, blood glucose and hormones, supports maintaining a healthy weight and increases our energy levels. But did you know the foods you eat play a role in the quality of your sleep?
Drinking too much caffeine, sweets (especially close to bedtime) and snacking on processed food in late night hours have negative effects on sleep. Avoiding these habits and instead eating a variety of whole foods during the day, not eating a big meal close to bedtime and making sure you get enough protein in your diet—which makes it less difficult to fall asleep and maintain sleep—will help you on your way to a good night’s sleep.
Nutrients that promote a good night’s sleep
- Low-glycemic, complex carbohydrates that are higher in fiber (green vegetables, fruits, chickpeas, kidney beans, lentils and bran).
- Protein (20% of your calorie intake).
- B Vitamins: thiamin (B1), folate, B6, B12 (meat, eggs, dairy products, legumes, seeds and nuts, dark leafy vegetables, and whole grains).
- Magnesium and zinc (nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains).
- Healthy fats (olive oil, almond oil, omega-3 fatty acids).
Melatonin is a natural hormone produced in the brain that helps induce sleep. But several factors can inhibit its release, such as screen usage before bed. To increase the amount of melatonin in your system, consider adding natural sources of melatonin into your diet from the following foods:
- Olive oil
- Tart cherry juice