Feed your sleep: Nutrition practices to promote better sleep
Our diet can have an impact on our sleep patterns. Here are few ways that we can influence our sleep habits through the foods we eat.
Avoid caffeine, especially later in the day. Some experts recommend avoiding caffeine up to eight hours before bed. In less sensitive individuals, avoiding caffeine four to five hours before bed may be sufficient. Keep in mind hidden sources of caffeine such as chocolate, sodas, decaffeinated coffee (yes it still has a small amount of caffeine), and teas.
Avoid alcohol close to bed time. Alcohol does allow healthy people to fall asleep more quickly most of the time, but it reduces rapid eye movement (REM) sleep which is the restorative sleep needed to wake up fully rested.
Avoid eating large meals right before you go to bed. When you eat large meals, your body spends a lot of energy working to digest the food you just ate and may not allow to get deep, restorative sleep.
Limit high sugar foods in your diet. High amounts of sugar can lead to spikes in blood glucose levels throughout the day. Maintaining a more stable blood sugar during the day into the evening can help to lead to better sleep at night.
Magnesium plays a role in supporting deep, restorative sleep by maintaining healthy levels of Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA), a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep. This mineral found in abundance in avocados, nuts, and legumes.
Tryptophan is an amino acid associated with better sleep due to its ability to promote two neurotransmitters; serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin affects the brain and influences sleep, cognition, and mood. Melatonin is a hormone that helps to regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Less than optimal levels of either of these can negatively impact your sleep.
What you eat impacts how well you sleep, and how you sleep impacts what you eat. This cycle is what makes sleep one of the absolute most important factors contributing to your overall health, including your risk of chronic disease, maintaining a healthy weight, productivity during the day, and quality of life.
Currently enrolled Georgia State University students can meet with a registered dietitian free of charge. To schedule an appointment contact: Leslie Knapp (Atlanta campus) and Abby Johnson (Clarkston and Dunwoody campus).
Follow #HealthyStateGSU throughout the month of January to learn how you can cultivate happiness through gratitude, nutrition, meditation, exercise, and better sleep. The social media @BeWellGSU on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter includes posts related to the Counseling & Testing Center, the Student Health Clinic and Student Health Promotion.