14 Jan

The SLEEP Diet – Part 1

Lissa Coffey

Lissa Coffey

Lissa Coffey

The most popular New Year’s Resolution always seems to be to “go on a diet.” Most of the time when we think of a diet, we think of the foods we might eat, or not eat, that will help us to lose weight. But there are all kinds of diets. A diet is made up of the food we consume, and we can go on a particular diet for many reasons. The best reason to go on a diet is to improve our health. And what better way is there to improve our health than to improve our sleep?

Research shows that a good night’s sleep, both in quantity and quality, helps to boost our memory, curb inflammation, sharpen attention, enhance athletic performance and even help us to live longer. There are many things that we can do to achieve the goal of sleeping well. A regular bedtime and waking time, a quality mattress, and a restful sleep environment are all very important. In addition, the foods we eat also influence our sleep. The Better Sleep Council has come up with a list of foods to stay away from – a “NO” list – and foods to favor – a “YES” list – that make up The Sweet Sleep Diet. This week we’re looking at all the foods that are best to avoid before bedtime:

The “NO” List for Sweet Sleep:

-Alcohol: A cocktail before bed may help you to fall asleep more quickly, but it disrupts sleep later in the night. Alcohol interrupts our REM sleep – and REM sleep is important for concentration, memory, and motor skills.

-Broccoli: While broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower are all super healthy and high in fiber, the fiber content also makes these veggies harder to digest. They also contain an indigestible sugar that causes gas. While our digestive system is working overtime, it’s difficult for us to sleep soundly.

-Candy: When we have candy or sugary treats late at night, our blood sugar fluctuations, the spikes and falls that come with sugar consumption, make it difficult for us to stay asleep. Also, dark chocolate is indeed heart healthy, but best not to eat it before bed. It contains some caffeine – about the same amount as hot chocolate or tea.

-Celery, cucumber, watermelon: Foods with a high water content act as a natural diuretic. When we have to get up in the night to go to the bathroom we have a harder time sleeping.

-Chili: Beans can be difficult to digest, and can cause gas, making it difficult for us to sleep well.

-Pizza: Foods that are high in fat, like pizza and fried foods, take longer to digest. This can cause discomfort that interferes with our sleep cycle.

-Red meat: Meats that are high in protein and fat are slow to digest. If you choose to eat red meat, have it for lunch rather than for dinner. A body that is busy digesting can’t settle into slumber.

-Soda: Caffeine is a stimulant. We know that caffeine is present in cola drinks, but check the labels on your other sodas as well. Caffeine is often added to root beer, orange soda, and lemon-lime soda.

-Sub sandwiches: These big sandwiches are a meal, not a snack. It is best to leave at least 3 hours between dinner and bedtime to properly digest so that you’re not uncomfortable with a full stomach.

-Tacos: Spicy foods, or any foods that have a spicy or hot sauce on them, can cause heartburn, which leads to restlessness when you’re trying to get to sleep.

-Tomatoes: Tomatoes are high in tyramine. Tyramine is an amino acid that triggers norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is a stimulant that boosts brain activity and delays sleep.

Next week I’ll post foods on the “YES” list – meanwhile, take a look at our new YouTube video for more info!

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