Haven’t been sleeping well? Contrary to popular belief, getting a poor night of sleep isn’t a normal part of aging.
While some disorders or medications might make it harder to get rest, there are lifestyle changes you can make that could help you get to sleep faster and enjoy better-quality sleep. One that’s simple to make? Rethinking some of your eating habits.
Eating Tips for Better Sleep
Before you know what to eat, know how to eat before bed to give yourself the best chance at sleeping well.
Stay away from heavy meals for a few hours before bed...
...But, a small snack (see the section below) can keep you from going to bed hungry.
Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and excessive sugar before you go to sleep.
Depending on your specific needs and any medical conditions you have, the list might look different. For example, if you have acid reflux, you already know that eating something greasy or spicy can spell trouble for getting sleep.
Similarly, because everyone is different, you might find that other foods not specifically mentioned here can have a negative impact on your sleep. You might try keeping a journal of what you eat during the day to help pinpoint anything that causes trouble and limit it in the hours before bed.
Foods That Promote Sleep
Now that you know the eating patterns to help you sleep better, what are some specific foods that can help you nod off? Science says:
Nuts like almonds and walnuts. These contain healthy fats and high levels of melatonin, a hormone that promotes a more regular sleep cycle.
Cottage cheese contains lean protein and can help to increase levels of serotonin. Low levels of serotonin may contribute to insomnia.
Herbal tea is a good way to relax before bed. Choose a variety without caffeine, like chamomile or peppermint.
Kiwi fruit has been shown to improve the amount of sleep people with insomnia get, according to the National Sleep Foundation.
Tart cherry juice also contains high levels of melatonin, so pucker up and have a glass before bed.
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More Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep
Eating well can help you get a better night's sleep, but it's just part of the whole picture. And because habits that help you sleep are also things that promote your overall health, you’ll likely see even more benefits if you incorporate them into your daily routine.
1. Exercise regularly. Exercise can improve your mood and stimulate your metabolism. And to speak in layman's terms, exercise makes you tired and helps you fall asleep quickly!
Try to exercise earlier in the day; intense exercise a few hours before bed can keep you up. Just remember to check with a doctor before starting or modifying your exercise routine.
2. Reduce stress. Lying awake at night and worrying doesn’t help anyone sleep. During the day, take care of yourself mentally by taking breaks, doing activities you enjoy, and spending time with loved ones.
3. Keep your bedroom a few degrees cooler at night. A temperature between 65-75 degrees is optimal for getting to sleep.
4. Avoid too much screen time before bed. Staring at a smartphone or TV screen that emits bright light tells your body that it’s time to be awake, not go to sleep.
5. Make sure your bed is comfortable. It sounds simple, but having the right number of blankets on the bed, as well as a supportive pillow, can make a big difference.