We can go to great lengths to get that perfect night’s sleep – investing in fancy mattresses, being careful to power down the iPad hours before bedtime – but the path to better rest starts first thing in the morning, and it starts with breakfast! Your diet plays a much more crucial role in your sleep cycle than you might think. Here are three simple rules we swear by:
- Eat Early and Often. Skipping breakfast and fasting for long stretches causes hormonal fluctuations that interfere with your sleep cycle. Start your day with a protein and carb-rich mix (think eggs and whole-wheat toast) and eat 6 250-300 calorie mini-meals throughout the day. Eating something nutritious every few hours helps your body maintain the steady levels of hormones and neurotransmitters that are critical for falling and staying asleep.
- Focus on Nutrients and – yes – Carbs! Magnesium and B6 are nutrients critical in the production of melatonin, the hormone that helps you fall asleep and stay asleep. Magnesium deficiency has also been tied to restless-leg syndrome Whole grains, dairy products, dark leafy greens, and nuts and seeds are all foods high in magnesium. You can find healthy levels of B6 in most fish – especially salmon, halibut, and tuna – and in bananas, cherries, and chickpeas.
And because eating carbohydrates causes your body to produce tryptophan – an amino acid that makes you sleepy – adding carbs like jasmine rice to your dinner meal can actually help relax you at bedtime.
- Watch the Clock. Eating a big meal revs up your digestive system and acts as a stimulant – the last thing your body needs when it’s trying to power down. So stop eating 2-3 hours before you want to be asleep. Also, keep away from caffeine for 6 hours prior to bedtime (or try and skip it all together), and no alcohol for 3 hours prior – both are stimulants that can wreak havoc on your sleep cycle.
So by all means, make the lifestyle changes you need to make your nighttime restful – but remember that your road to good-night’s sleep begins when the sun comes up. Pleasant Dreams!