I'm always getting questions about what is OK (and what's not!) to eat at night.
I’ve been trying out a sleep app to track and rate my sleep recently. Luckily I’m mostly a sound sleeper, but some nights I wake up multiple times. This isn’t great for quality of sleep or how I feel the next day.
If your tummy is rumbling, is it all right to have a small snack? And what about the occasional nightcap?
This Nutrition Trick Will Help Your Sleep
Turns out what we eat can have a big effect on sleep quality. In a recent study in Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, researchers looked at the diet and sleep habits of 26 adults.
Subjects who ate foods with less fiber and more saturated fat and sugar experienced lower quality sleep—they spent increased time in lighter sleep stages and woke up more often.
Not sure how much fiber, saturated fat, and sugar you should be eating? Use these pointers:
Women need between 21 and 25 grams daily, and men need between 30 and 38 grams. To put that in perspective, a serving of high-fiber cereal contains between 9 and 14 grams; a ½ cup of beans has 6 to 9 grams; and a medium apple offers 4 grams.
The most recent dietary guidelines recommend capping added sugar at 10 percent of daily calories. For a 1,500-calorie daily diet, that’s 150 calories of sugar—the equivalent of about nine teaspoons of sugar or seven teaspoons of honey or agave syrup. A can of soda has about 150 calories from sugar, and a tall Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino contains about 170 calories worth of sugar.
Saturated fat should also be capped at 10% of daily calories, per the dietary guidelines. Per a 1,500-calorie daily diet, that’s about 17 grams of saturated fat, or the amount in three hamburgers or four pork sausage links. The majority of saturated fat comes from mixed dishes, such as burgers and pizzas.
Foods to Improve Your Sleep
Guess what? There are a handful of superfoods out there that contain sleep-helping nutrients like melatonin and tryptophan. Here's the short list of these foods to you!
These red gems of a vegetable supply melatonin, which helps regulate your internal clock. I enjoy slicing cherry or grape tomatoes in half, then drizzling them with extra-virgin olive oil. Guess what? The oil also provides melatonin.
This crunchy snack offers tryptophan, an essential amino acid that helps your body create melatonin. The seeds also supply filling fiber and healthy fats, which help curb your hunger for longer.
Dried tart cherries
Hello, sleep-helping fruit. They offer melatonin, a hormone in your body that helps regulate your sleep/wake cycle, and may boost sleep efficiency.
Tart cherry juice
As with dried tart cherries, tart cherry juice provides melatonin. Regularly drinking tart cherry juice may increase sleep time.
The nut provide melatonin. They also supply protein, healthy fat, and fiber—all nutrients that help you stay fuller for longer. You can have a Tablespoon or two of almonds, or mix almond butter into almond butter protein balls.
This herbal tea may help your shut-eye. In a study in the Journal of Advanced Nursing, postpartum women regularly drinking chamomile tea daily for two weeks noticed short-term sleep benefits.
This blog post was updated in May 2020. A version of this content originally appeared on WeightWatchers.com.
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