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Is you diet stopping you getting a good night’s sleep?

May 31, 2013 by Works with Water
Diet and Sleep

We all know that a good night’s sleep is very beneficial for our skin health but are you getting as much as you need? New research has shown that your diet can make all the difference between a good night’s sleep and a bad one… and it is not just limited to what you have before you go to bed.

A study published in the journal ‘Appetite’ found big differences in the diets of people who slept the longest number of hours compared with those snoozing for the least. Those who slept less than five hours drank less water, took in less vitamin C, had less selenium, which is found in nuts, meat and shellfish, but ate more green, leafy vegetables. Longer sleep was associated with consuming more carbohydrates, less choline, which is found in eggs and fatty meats, and less chocolate and tea.

And while everyone knows that eating a large meal before bed is a bad idea if you want a good night’s kip, scientists have now pinpointed that avoiding food for three hours before bed is optimum, as it lets your body go into wind-down mode and release the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin.

So can you eat your way to sounder sleep? Top 10 sleep tight tricks

1 – Eat little and often

Having something nutritious every few hours helps your body and brain maintain the right balance of hormones and neurotransmitters, essential for falling – and staying – asleep at night. Rather than large meals with gaps in between, aim for six mini meals a day.

If you go to bed hungry, your body’s innate biological need for food will send signals to keep you awake to find subsistence.

2 – Eat early

Avoid eating your evening meal any later than three hours before bed, as this will optimise your blood sugar and melatonin levels.

Some studies even suggest that eating too close to bedtime, or very late at night when you’d normally be sleeping, may throw your body’s internal clock into confusion and lead to overeating and weight gain.

3 – Go bananas

Have a banana – ideally in the second half of the day. This sleep wonder fruit is packed with potassium and magnesium, nutrients that double as natural muscle relaxants. Plus, they contain the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan, which ultimately turns into serotonin and melatonin in the brain. Serotonin is a natural chemical that promotes relaxation, while melatonin is the hormone that promotes sleepiness.

4 – Have a carb-rich dinner

A recent study at The University of Sydney, Australia, found that people who ate rice before bedtime fell asleep faster than those who didn’t as rice is rich in sugars, which increase production of tryptophan, the amino acid that makes you sleepy. Bread, pasta and cereal can have the same effect.

5 – Avoid fatty meals

Research suggests people who have fatty meals in the evening clock fewer hours of total sleep than those who don’t, so stick to lean meat and plenty of veg.

6 – But don’t crash-diet

If you’re eating fewer than 1,200 calories a day, as many diets recommend, there’s a good chance you’re missing out on key nutrients, which can seriously affect your sleep.

Low levels of calcium, from dairy products, and magnesium, which is found in green veg and nuts, are linked to poor sleep, as both are natural relaxants.

A deficiency in the B vitamin, folic acid, found in wholegrains and green leafy veg, may also lead to insomnia.

People who don’t get much vitamin C – in fruit and veg – or selenium from nuts, meat and fish have been shown to sleep for fewer hours.

7 – Lay off the booze

Initially drinking induces sleep, but if you indulge in more than one or two small drinks you’re in for a fragmented night. One recent study showed alcohol increased slow-wave deep sleep in the first half of the night, but increased sleep disruptions in the second half – thus wiping out all the earlier benefits!

8 – Watch the salt

Processed foods such as ready meals and even many breads and soups contain a lot of sodium, which can interrupt sleep by raising your blood pressure and dehydrating you.

9 – Drink plenty of water

Research shows the more hydrated you are, the more hours kip you get. Aim to drink around six to eight glasses of water a day. But if getting up for the loo disrupts your sleep, avoid liquids for three hours before bedtime.

10 – Skip coffee… and chocolate

People often stop drinking coffee at lunchtime, but experiments shows that caffeine stays in your system for up to 12 hours – an 11am latte could linger until 11pm.

Even chocolate and tea, which contain the stimulant theobromine, have been shown to disrupt sleep and may be best avoided.

Read the full article in the Daily Mirror:

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