31.6 percent of adults (age 18 and older) get insufficient sleep, according to a recent study by the CDC. Proper sleep is linked to the foods we eat, so one way to fight off insufficient sleep is to take a look at your nutrition. Research conducted by Dr. Van Cauter not only shows this link, but also how our metabolism, appetite, and diet all affect sleep. Getting proper nutrition and watching your cortisol intake are some of the easiest ways to ensure a restful night of sleep.

How Nutrition Can Cure Restless Irksome Insomnia

Aids in Your Quest to a Good Night of Sleep

Before we dive into food, sleep is partly dependent upon a comfortable mattress that suits your needs. Sleeping with a mattress that fits your body needs can significantly improve your sleep, says a study reported by the Huffington Post. According to BedTester.com, researching and testing mattresses that fit your musculoskeletal needs can help aid in your quest for a night of restful slumber. Once you have the perfect mattress, use essential oils like lavender and chamomile to enter a state of calm. Even consider spraying lavender on your pillow and mattress, for inhaling lavender essential oils 30 minutes before sleep can improve the quality of sleep according to Healthline.

Besides a comfortable mattress and natural remedies, you can also help improve sleep by taking a close look at the nutrients in your diet. Sleep is dependent on cortisol which is subsequently responsive to the food you intake, says the American Nutrition Association.  Cortisol is the body’s natural hormone produced in the kidneys that are directly tied to sleep. Cortisol plays a role in your body’s circadian rhythm - its own natural sleep pattern. Choosing foods that keep glycemic and cortisol levels low at night is the best path of nutrition to help aid sleep.

Nutrition for a Restful Night

The goal is to keep cortisol levels high in the morning and lowering them as the day goes on. Incorporating low-glycemic foods like eggs, poultry, fish, and meats is the perfect way to start. These high-protein, high-fat foods prevent spikes in your body’s blood sugar as the day goes on. Make a protein-rich salad with eggs, add a deli-meat, and mix in some cheese can help you get a restful night's sleep later that day.

Want a vegan-friendly alternative? Heart-healthy fats like a handful of nuts or dairy-free cottage cheese can even help your body produce serotonin, says the Sleep Foundation. If you’re craving carbs consider nutrient rich steel cut oats or whole-wheat products as an alternative to white bread or potato chips.

Nutrition plays a role beyond our body’s daily health - it also affects our health at night too. So, next time you’re craving that late night snack, think twice about what you’re grabbing from your pantry.

(Last Updated On: March 11, 2021)

Annalise O'Conner is a Registered Dietitian and Personalized Nutritionist. She is a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, teaching nutrition in the School of Public Health and APAN (Asian Pacific Islander American Network) Email: [email protected]

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