Top Tips For Great Sleep Part 1: Food

Posted by on May 16, 2013 in Blog | Comments Off on Top Tips For Great Sleep Part 1: Food

I’m happy to share that my UK move went smoothly and I send you a big HELLO from London!  I would also like to welcome everyone who recently joined my community after participating in the amazing gift giveaway event last week.  I’m so excited to get to know you and share some more great tools and tips along the way.
 
It’s surprising I haven’t written about sleep yet because, apart from my love of food, it’s one of the MOST important things I focus on when it comes to my own health.  I’m very “protective” of my sleep, as my husband would say, and am pretty focused on getting my zzz’s in!  Sleep is such an important topic when it comes to your hormones and health that I’m going to cover it over a series of newsletters together with you. 
 
Do you ever have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep?  Or, even if you do get to sleep, do you wake up feeling groggy or hungover in the morning?  If so there’s one thing you definitely need to be doing.
 
 
One of the MOST important ingredients to having great sleeps is….eating a SNACK.   
 
Low blood sugar triggers the release of stress hormones in your body.  As you can imagine, having your body buzzing on stress hormones doesn’t exactly set you up for a cozy, relaxing night of rest.  To avoid this issue, you’ll want to eat a healthy snack before you hit the pillow.
 
Top Tips For A Great Nighttime Snack:
 

  • Eat it 30-60 minutes before bedtime – generally your blood sugar begins to drop about 2-3 hours after your last meal.  Having a bite to eat 30-60 minutes before bed gives your blood sugars a gentle boost for the night and prevents them from dropping too low.
  • Make it with complex carbs and some protein –  proteins digest slower than carbohydrates and are KEY to creating steady blood sugars.  You’ll want to make sure there is some in your nighttime snack.  See the end of this newsletter for great examples.
  • Keep it light – heavy meals within 2 hours of going to bed can set you up for heartburn and rob your body of precious time to heal.  Your body has a giant “to do” list at night in terms of repairing and rebuilding all of your tissues.  When your body’s blood supply and focus are taken up digesting that big meal, you lose out of all the restoration that happens while you sleep. 
  • Avoid sugar before bed – this is HUGE.  Eating sugary foods before bed is like hopping on a roller coaster and bringing your pillow along just for kicks.  Sugary foods spike your blood sugar and then drop them back down.  This drop is especially efficient at kicking off your stress response. 
  • No, alcohol doesn’t count as a snack 🙂  – it might feel like that glass or two of wine helps you go down for a night of slumber, but alcoholic drinks also have a lot of sugar in them.  Because of this they also create a spike and eventual steep drop in blood sugar.  In the end, your body’s stress response to low blood sugar overrides the sedative effects of alcohol.  This explains why a lot of people wake up a few hours after going to bed after enjoying a few drinks.

 
Overall, if you stick to foods that are low in sugar, made up of complex carbohydrates and have some protein in them you’re all set!
 
Here Are Some Healthy Bedtime Snacks To Try:

  • 1 slice sprouted grain bread with 1 tbsp nut butter – adding some banana on top is a tasty option for this one
  • An apple or pear with a handful of almonds, walnuts or other nut
  • ½ cup of oatmeal topped with nuts and seeds
  • ½ cup organic unsweetened greek yogurt with chia or flax seeds, nuts and seeds
  • 1 cup steamed veggies with olive oil and ground nuts and seeds as a protein topper
  • ½ -1 cup of soup (cozy!) with 1 slice whole grain toast or a few whole grain crackers

 
Take Action Now

  1. Pick 3 snacks from the list above and add it to your shopping list.  This way you’ll have lots of options on hand.  
  2. Take a look at your dinner/bedtime routine and ask yourself whether you’re eating dinner too close to sleeptime.  If so, make some adjustments to the timing so that your dinner has enough time to digest.

 
Happy sleeping 🙂 
 
All the best,

Dr. Viv