Nutrition for Sleep: Why What You Eat Matters

Sleep and nutrition are both essential in our lives for promoting a high quality of sleep. The quality of sleep that we get ultimately dictates how well we perform in our lives, whether it be in our professional work or in our personal lives with relationships.

But when you combine the two, more importantly, when it comes to sleep, your nutrition plays an incredibly vital role in promoting that high quality of sleep. What you put into your body significantly impacts your patterns of sleep, either negatively or positively.

That’s why in this article, we, as trusted functional medicine Los Angeles providers, are going to delve into the connection between sleep and your nutrition while also glancing over some foods that can enhance your quality of sleep, as well as those foods that should be avoided.

The Impact of Food on Sleep

As mentioned previously by functional medicine doctors, the foods we consume can directly influence our sleep quality and duration. Certain nutrients and compounds found in food can either promote or hinder our ability to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night. By understanding these connections, we can make informed choices about our diet to support better sleep.

Foods That Promote Quality Sleep

1. Complex Carbohydrates

Incorporating complex carbohydrates, most specifically into your evening meal, can enhance your sleep. This would include foods like whole grains, sweet potatoes, and quinoa. These foods have a low glycemic index, which means they release energy slowly, helping to stabilize blood sugar levels and, as a result, can potentially prevent nighttime awakenings, as confirmed by research and our functional medicine Studio City practice.

2. Tryptophan-Rich Foods

We’ve all heard of this one around Thanksgiving. Tryptophan is an amino acid that plays a key role in sleep regulation. Foods like turkey, chicken, nuts, seeds, and bananas are excellent sources of tryptophan. Consuming these foods can increase the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation and helps regulate our sleep.

3. Magnesium-Rich Foods

Magnesium is a mineral often known for its calming properties. Foods like leafy green vegetables, various nuts, all kinds of seeds, and even legumes are abundant in magnesium. As Hollywood functional medicine professionals, we encourage including these foods in your diet to help relax your muscles and promote a sense of calm before bedtime. You can especially work them into salads or other kinds of foods.

4. Melatonin-Boosting Foods

Many people have heard of this at this point, but just in case you haven’t, let’s break it down. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Certain foods can naturally boost the melatonin levels in the body. A few foods include tart cherries, delicious kiwis, and oranges, which are all rich in melatonin and can contribute to better sleep when consumed in the evening.

Foods to Avoid Before Bed

1. Caffeine and Stimulants

It’s no surprise that caffeine can interfere with sleep, among many other adverse effects. Avoid consuming caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, and energy drinks in the late afternoon and evening. Be aware that some foods, such as chocolate and certain medications, also contain caffeine and should be consumed in moderation or avoided before bed.

2. Heavy and Spicy Meals

Eating large, heavy meals close to bedtime can disrupt sleep due to indigestion and acid reflux. Spicy foods can also lead to heartburn and discomfort. Opt for lighter meals in the evening and allow ample time for digestion before lying down.

3. High-Sugar Foods

Foods high in sugar can cause energy spikes and crashes, leading to difficulty falling asleep and maintaining sleep throughout the night. Avoid sugary snacks, desserts, and beverages, particularly in the hours leading up to bedtime.

4. Alcohol

Although alcohol may initially make you feel drowsy, it can work wonders toward disrupting your sleep patterns later at night. It can lead to more frequent awakenings, less restorative sleep, and increased snoring. Limit or avoid alcohol intake, especially in the hours before bed.

Ready To Eat To Help You Sleep?

When it comes to our sleep, it’s not a secret at all that nutrition in our daily life plays a truly crucial role. By putting forth the effort to make a conscious choice about the various foods that we consume, we can in turn positively impact our sleep quality and improve our well-being.

Incorporating foods like complex carbohydrates accordingly, tryptophan-rich foods which it’s applicable, foods rich in magnesium, and even melatonin-boosting foods into your evening meals can have a drastic impact. At the same time, you want to avoid or limit your caffeine intake, steer away from spicy and heavier meals, high-sugar foods, and of course alcohol around your bedtime.

It may seem tricky, but by adopting a sleep-friendly diet in your life, you can cultivate the optimal conditions for a very restful night of sleep, allowing you to wake up without feeling exhausted. Remember that small changes in your diet can go a long way, so don’t stress yourself out over making a ton of changes at once. Relax, and have sweet dreams.

Contact us at Functional Medicine Los Angeles to learn more about what our functional medicine Burbank team can offer to help you.

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