Did you know that what you eat can affect your sleep? That’s probably welcome news for those of us who experience sleep problems occasionally or just about every night. Getting enough sleep, say seven or more hours of restful sleep a night, comes with positive health benefits such as lower stress, improved mood and a reduced risk of unwanted weight gain and heart disease.
It’s now been established that a lack of sleep may be linked to a preference for junk food that can take a toll on your health and waistline. Adequate shut-eye is also a vital part of gaining the most from your workouts too. That’s why it’s a good idea to consider your dinner routine a critical part of your sleep hygiene.
Want to stop feeling beaten down all the time? Here are the end-of-day meals that can help you enjoy a blissful night’s rest.
A hearty bowl of bean-based chili can help you sleep like a baby. Research in the Journal of Clinical Medicine found that noshing on a diet rich in dietary fiber may help people spend more time in slow-wave sleep, a stage of deep sleep that is considered particularly restorative to the body and necessary for better brain functioning. The improved blood sugar control that comes with eating more fiber-rich foods like beans may improve sleep quality. By acting as a prebiotic fiber, this can also result in the uptick in bacteria-produced compounds like short-chain fatty acids that signal the brain in a way that could result in better sleep. In addition to beans, you can sneak more fiber into your dinner via lentils, vegetables and whole grains.
Try our Quinoa and White Bean Chili.
2. Salmon with roasted sweet potato
Consider casting your line for salmon more often for dinner to help knock you out faster. Researchers from Norway discovered that people who consumed salmon three times a week for six months experienced improved sleep latency, the length of time that it takes to go from being awake to being in a deep sleep, than those who got more of their protein from other animal-based foods like beef or pork. A smart dinner option for all generations of a household: A separate study in Scientific Reports found that children who eat fish at least once a week sleep better than those who consume fish less frequently or not at all. The dynamic duo of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids in the swimmer may make it a great dinner choice for promoting improved sleep.
Add a side-kick of sweet potato for some quality dinner carbs. A study from Brazil found that including some carbohydrate-rich foods in the evening may help increase sleep duration. How? The carbs in sweet potato can help shuttle the amino acid tryptophan into the brain to help make calming serotonin. And there’s one more reason to be sweet on the orange spud. It’s a good source of vitamin B6, a nutrient the body uses convert tryptophan to serotonin.
3. Grilled chicken with kiwi salsa
Kiwi is a source of antioxidants, vitamin C and serotonin, which may help improve sleep onset, duration and efficiency – which refers to the percentage of total time in bed actually spent sleeping – in adults with sleep disturbances according to one study. Use it for snacks, or try it as a salsa over grilled meats. Why grilled meats? A recent investigation in the Journal of Nutrition found that adults who were watching their overall calorie intake to try and shed a few pounds rated their sleep quality and daytime sleepiness as being better if they consumed a higher protein diet. Protein can increase the availability of tryptophan, an amino acid used to synthesize serotonin and melatonin, hormones that are vital for regulating sleep patterns.
Making a kiwi salsa is simple. Toss together peeled cubed kiwi with chopped bell pepper, halved cherry tomatoes, diced red onion, chopped cilantro and lemon juice. Season with salt, to taste.
Try putting your kiwi salsa over this Grilled Cilantro Chicken & Shrimp.
Also make sure to read What to Do During the Day to Sleep Better at Night and 6 Sleep Myths That Could be Keeping You Up.