Have you ever found yourself tossing and turning the night before an important presentation or work trip? Ever wake up at 3 am with your mind caught in an anxiety loop? What about ditching sleep to meet a deadline?
While occasional sleeplessness is something most of us deal with from time to time, if it’s a regular part of your week, it can hold you back in your professional and personal life. Short sleep duration (defined as less than 7 hours per 24-hour period) has been associated with a range of health risks. In the short term, you’re looking at decreased energy and focus, but longer term, chronic sleep deprivation can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, depression, diabetes, and even some cancers. According to CDC data, adults who were short sleepers were also more likely to report being obese, physically inactive, and current smokers compared to those who got enough sleep.
For the record, drinking wine to fall asleep after a stressful day doesn’t work, as alcohol actually disrupts your circadian rhythm, but choosing the right foods before bed can help you get the shut-eye you need .
I generally recommend giving yourself at least an hour after eating before going to bed and avoiding a heavy meal so you don’t struggle to drift off because you’re uncomfortable from your body working hard to digest. On the flip side, trying to fall asleep when your stomach is growling can also be problematic, in which case a light snack can help you fall asleep and stay asleep.
Here are some compounds and nutrients to pay attention to and some bedtime snack suggestions.
Foods like whole grains and nuts provide nutrients to help promote sleep.
Jessica Cording Nutrition
Melatonin is a hormone that regulates our circadian rhythm. It’s important to make sure the room we sleep in is dark because darkness helps levels increase.
Serotonin, a mood-regulating neurotransmitter, also plays a role in regulating our sleep cycle by helping us calm down and drift off, and it’s involved in melatonin production. Eating foods that support and enhance serotonin production can help us maintain good levels.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that’s a precursor to serotonin. It’s found primarily in animal proteins but also in some plant foods like bananas, chickpeas, oats and honey.
Calcium is a mineral helps regulate muscle movements and blood pressure, which helps you settle down and also impacts how the body uses tryptophan. Find it in dairy products, leafy greens, salmon and tofu.
Vitamin B6 helps the body efficiently produce melatonin and serotonin—key for helping you drift off peacefully. Some good food sources are beans, whole grains, chicken, fish potatoes and bananas.
Potassium is another mineral involved in muscle and nerve function and soothes muscle aches and twitches so you can settle in comfortably for the night. Find it in avocado,