What to Eat to Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Resolve to Get Healthy and Maintain your Weight by Sleeping Better with 6 Pre-sleep Nutrition Tips from NYC Certified Dietitian 

Mary Jane Detroyer NYC Nutritionist


40 winks. Catch some z’s.  Hit the hay.


That elusive thing 45% of Americans report they don’t get enough of or good enough quality of. And with sleep going hand-in-hand with health, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing stress, and fending off sickness, it’s something all of us should resolve to do better.

Save some rare syndromes, sleep is one of those essentials in life. It might be delayed, but it can’t be erased. And sleep, as much as we need it, continues to be a problem for most.

Yawn NYC NutritionistWhile we sleep, our bodies rejuvenate. More cerebral spinal fluid is pumped through the brain, kind of cleansing it. Our hearts get a chance to rest, after a busy day of keeping us up and blood pumping. And our lungs, too, settle into a comfortable rhythm. Studies associate sleep duration (and quality) and weight gain in children, adolescents and adults. It could be duration and quality affect our hormones ghrelin and leptin – those that regulate hunger.

There’s no way around it. We need to resolve to sleep better. And with these 6 sleep-inducing tips, you might just snack your way to a good night’s sleep.

  • Re-think your afternoon caffeine: Caffeine can stay in the body up to six hours. So a 6:00pm latte with friends will keep you buzzing until midnight. Consider herbal teas in the afternoon – no caffeine after 4:00 pm.
  • Sleep health begins at breakfast: Many just think about their “after-8:00pm” habits, but what we eat throughout the day could affect the way we sleep at night. Sugary breakfasts can set your body up for a rollercoaster ride. Choose whole-grain bagels over white bread, whole-grain cereals over sugar cereals. Sweet tooth? Fresh fruit drizzled with honey in plain yogurt. These adjustments might be just what you need to clock your body Grilled Chicken NYC Nutritionistinto better circadian rhythms.
  • Go cold turkey: Really. Or chicken or tofu, cheese, fish, lentils and eggs. Tryptophan is your friend. Tryptophan is
    the beginning of a chain of events that can chill your body out. Tryptophan is an amino acid that your body turns into Niacin, which, in turn, creates serotonin and boost melatonin levels. THAT’S a mouthful. Bottom line: couple up a food with high levels of tryptophan with a carbohydrate. Carbohydrates cause the body to release more insulin which boosts amino acid absorption. This helps tryptophan (an amino acid) remain in your body longer. Whole-wheat crackers and a glass of milk; chicken and noodles; macaroni and cheese (yes!); pita bread and eggs. All of these power combos might just be the key to your good night’s sleep.
  • Keep portions small: Don’t go stuffed, or hungry, to bed. A small pre-sleep snack is perfect to get your body drowsy, but if you overeat, you’ll likely spend the first hour of bedtime waiting for your body to digest.
  • Just say no: Alcohol is one of the worst antidotes to insomnia. It metabolizes quickly in your system and will cause you to wake up often during the night. And, as if that weren’t enough, you might have to suffer secondary effects as it makes snoring worse. So, drink your last glass of wine well before you want to head to bed.
  • Pump up the potassium: Bananas and sweet potatoes are two high power potassium players. Potassium is actually a natural muscle relaxer. Add the fact they’re both carbohydrates, you’ve got yourself the ideal pre-bedtime snack to sleep.

Make sleep a priority. Develop positive sleep hygiene that you stick to. Wind down at the end of the day with a favorite small snack and snooze. Your body, mind, and health need it.

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