Do you sleep well? Do you wake up relaxed, positive and energized?
One of the most common complaints is lack of sleep and sleeplessness leave us feeling exhausted, and moody, apart from affecting our work productivity. The relationship between lack of sleep and health problems is also very distinctive, quantity and quality of sleep pose a threat to high blood pressure, heart disease, depression and increase the risk of diabetes.
It is also believed, and numerous studies showed this correlation, that lack of sleep affects immune system, leaving us vulnerable to infections, and in particular, increases appetite, that is, weight gain, which is a problem many people are facing.
According to many, and ideal amount of sleep is seven hours, although this differs and depends on person to person, especially as we age, because we tend to sleep less. Lately, many are of the opinion that bed pre-snacking can help us sleep more soundly, and while this is true, others are concerned about gaining a few pounds.
Contrary to popular belief, if you opt for the right food, the food that induces sleep, what we eat right before going to bed isn’t directly stored as fat, what matters is the total calories consumed during the day. We usually know what not to eat, in general, but when it comes to food that can improve and induce sleep, many of us are not certain. The energy from certain food we also need for sleep, according to Cassie Bjork, a registered dietitian, because those foods provide the fuel our body needs to burn more calories while we sleep.
In comparison to the foods we should eat, the foods that will help us sleep better, more foods we shouldn’t eat. To get to the list of food that can help us sleep better, without packing pounds, we need to go through the list of food we should avoid.
Caffeinated Beverages and Foods – As many already know, caffeine is a stimulant, and while stimulating the nervous system, it will hinder sleep.
Alcohol – Alcohol can be stimulating as well, in small amounts, and it will leave us dehydrated very soon, thus interrupt our sleep.
Spicy Food – People have to be very careful with spicy foods in general, and before bedtime, spicy food can produce an excess amount of stomach acid, thus cause heartburn, bloating and discomfort.
Fried Foods – Consuming fried food before bed will lead to longer digestion, and may cause stomach pains, cramping and acid reflux, and as we already know, fried food is high in fat.
Sugary Foods– Sugar gives an instant energy boost, so it is not recommended to eat any food that has sugar in it before going to bed.
Soft Drinks – These drinks are high in sugar, and very often contain caffeine, causing bloat, and acid reflux. Drinks high in sugar also have more calories.
Ice Cream- Due to high amount of fat, digestion is affected and slowed down, and while a small bowl of low fat yogurt won’t hurt you, giant bowl of chocolate ice-cream will.
Red Meat – Protein and fat are slowly digested, and red meat is high in both.
Most Veggies – Broccoli, cabbage, onions, cauliflower and most vegetables are high in insoluble fiber, which is digested slowly as well. You will feel fuller for longer, but you will also feel discomfort.
Oats – Outs are high in soluble fiber, and oats before bed slow down digestion and cause gas.
When we think about healthy sleep, we need to think about our blood sugar levels, because low blood sugar can wake us up from sleep. Snacks we eat before bedtime should contain compounds that will not interrupt our sleep by encouraging appetite and those that will be able to balance the levels of blood sugar.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that converts into serotonin and melatonin, brains-relaxation chemicals, that includes sleep.
Complex carbohydrates promote serotonin as well, thus food that contain them, cause more shut-eye.
Certain minerals, such as magnesium and calcium, help the body relax and calm down.
So, what snacks should you eat before bedtime?
#1 White Meat Protein – Chicken and Turkey digest slowly, and release a very low amount of insulin. Tryptophan acid is present in turkey, which is excellent for sleep. Another hormone called glucagon is also released, and this hormone assists the body with breaking down stored carbs and fat.
#2 Bananas – Due to magnesium and calcium, and tryptophan, bananas are great for inducing sleep. This fruit is also a natural muscle-relaxation food. When combined with nuts, more relaxation will come with carbs.
#3 Low-fat cheeses – Tryptophan plus lean proteins can calm you down, and glucagon release will help the body burn the energy. This is a solid pre-bedtime choice. Make sure to avoid flavored varieties with added sugar.
#4 Peanuts or peanut butter – As a rich source of niacin, another nutrient that increases the release of serotonin in the system, peanuts (or peanut butter) is a good choice if you have problems falling asleep. However, you shouldn’t indulge yourself with big portions, because peanuts are slightly high in fat and calories. A great option is to go for whole-wheat crackers with little peanut butter.
#5 Milk – You might have thought that this was a myth, but warm glass of milk before bed promotes faster sleep. Milk contain both calcium and tryptophan amino acid. A teaspoon of honey with warm glass of milk will add a bit of carbohydrates that will increase serotonin release.
When not in a mood for pre-bedtime snack, you can always opt for a relaxing tea, chamomile, lavender, peppermint or valerian.
What should you avoid?
Watching TV or using computer
Chocolate and wine
Nicotine – it is a stimulant
REMEMBER: Make sure you eat dinner at least three hours before bedtime. Snacks are good sleep inducers an hour before you go to bed.
The most important thing is to always listen to your body, and our bodies do send us signs related to our needs or when the problem occurs. Sleep is mandatory for every process in our organism.
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