According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) one-quarter of Americans report having occasional sleeplessness, and 10 percent of us struggles with chronic insomnia. In late July, SleepBetter.org released an analysis of the CDC data to help us determine if we are well rested or sleep deprived.
By any measure, challenges to a restful night’s sleep are on the rise, and it’s of concern since sleeping well supports our positive energy, cognitive health, and better moods, as well as our physical health. And most of us have had the experience of how poor sleep can lead to less-than-stellar eating habits. Several recent studies, covered in depth by Michal Breus PhD in the Huffington Post, illustrate the mechanisms by which we are more likely to reach for sweeter, saltier foods when we’re overtired.
But sleep, your mental state, and food go hand-in-hand in other ways, too. Choosing a plant-based diet and taking regular moments of quiet are good remedies for sleeplessness. Take my healthful eating advice—and that of my colleagues Kathie Swift MS, RD, LDN, (check out her Integrative Nutrition Tips) and John Bagnulo, PhD, MPH—to help you follow a plant-centric diet.
Here are few additional eating tips to ensure a restful night’s sleep:
- Make a modestly early dinner (finishing 3 to 4 hours prior to bed time) the last time you eat each day.
- Resist the temptation to have large rich meals late in the evening. They can trigger acid reflux and indigestion that interfere with sleep.
- Be conscious of common sleep-interrupting foods and drinks: alcohol, caffeine, energy drinks, as well as fatty processed meats and other processed foods, such as cheese, chips, and other ‘junk’ foods.
- If you do need a snack before bed, try tryptophan-rich nut butter on sprouted grain toast or a small serving of nuts and brown rice with vegetables.