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16th Jul 2019

Tired every morning? Change THIS about what you eat at night

Trine Jensen-Burke

Going to bed far too late is often the number one reason we wake up feeling tired in the morning.

However, sometimes even when we are being good and going to bed at a reasonable time, we wake up feeling groggy and like we haven’t slept enough. Sounds familiar? Yep, us too.

The thing is – did you know your diet – especially what you consume or don’t consume in the evenings can have a huge impact on how you sleep? It’s true. The connection between diet and sleep is strong, and if you want to make sure you have the best sleep possible, here are a few changes Australian nutritionist Zoe Bingley-Pullin suggest trying:

Avoid very spicy food at dinner time
Spicy food is a commonly cited trigger of reflux and if you are prone to reflux at night, it may pay to avoid too much spice before bedtime. The same goes for eating a large meal close to bed, ideally leave a 2-3 hour gap between when the kitchen closes and when you hit the pillow.

Eat more calcium
If you avoid dairy and don’t pay attention to eating enough non-dairy calcium alternatives, this may be affecting your sleep. Specifically, calcium is pretty important when it comes to a good nights sleep because it works alongside tryptophan to manufacture melatonin. Research has shown calcium levels in the body are highest during our deepest sleep stages and calcium deficiency has been linked to disturbed REM sleep. Some non-dairy sources of calcium to boost your diet with include soymilk, almonds, tahini, canned salmon, leafy greens and dried figs.

Cut back on caffeine
Coffee, matcha latte, dark chocolate, raw chocolate treats and green tea – what do these food and drinks all have in common? Caffeine! A caffeine overload during the day can in fact result in poor sleep at night. If you are prone to overdoing it on the caffeine front, maybe its time to reassess and opt for some low caffeine options especially later in the day such as chamomile tea, ginger tea or rooibos.

(Good) carbs are your friend
Low carbohydrate diets are suitable short term for some people but not everyone will reap the same benefits. If you suffer anxiety or are highly stressed, a low carb diet can place added stress on your nervous system and impact not only energy but also how you sleep. In addition, carbohydrates are needed for the body to manufacture tryptophan and serotonin, a brain chemical involved in sleep. Carbohydrates also contain vitamin B3 which, has been studied for its positive effects on sleep. It’s important to opt for complex fibre rich carbohydrates as opposed to heavily refined to better support blood sugar levels during sleep.

Check how much protein you are getting
Many of us do not get enough protein spread evenly throughout the day and instead leave it to dinnertime. However, eating around 20-30g protein at breakfast can help to stabilise appetite during the day and prevent excessive hunger and snacking at night time. This is important when it comes to sleep because filling up on sugar or refined carbs snacks may negatively impact blood sugar during the night, not to mention make you uncomfortably full when going to bed and in turn disrupt sleep. Aim to spread your protein intake out evenly during the day to get the most benefit.