Sleeping well is a struggle for some of us throughout the year, but the summer season can really turn up the heat on nighttime tossing and turning. To help, we have some recommendations for what to eat and what not to eat to invite blissful slumber any time of year.
For even more tips and tools, be sure to check out our special Sleep Class for Women series with Aerin Alexander in October.
Let’s focus here on food. Food plays a key role in how well (or not) you sleep. The first thing is to avoid eating a heavy meal too close to bed time—say within three hours of going to bed. Eating too much late at night puts a strain on your liver, and you might find yourself waking up between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. and having difficulty falling back to sleep.
That said, it is good to include some quality protein in your evening meal, especially if you tend toward low blood sugar. So what other foods can help and hinder sleep?
We’ve found that these seven foods encourage better sleep:
- Whole grain cereal
- Almond milk or soymilk
- Nuts and seeds
- Lean turkey
A yummy, sleep-promoting evening dessert, for example, would be to blend a banana with some almond milk into a thick and frothy drink; you could even throw in some cherries and/or a date or two for extra sweetness. If it’s an especially hot evening, you might even want to make this with a frozen banana for a satisfying ice-creamlike dessert.
Just as there are foods that promote good sleep, there are also foods that prevent it. These are:
- Alcohol (which can lead to fragmented sleep)
- Nicotine prior to bedtime
In addition to the foods to eat and to avoid, you might try giving yourself that extra push toward a restful sleep with a cup of warm chamomile tea. Chamomile, valerian, linden and passionflower all act as natural sleep aids.
Speaking of herbs, one of our favorite sleep inducers is lavender essential oil. You can put a few drops of lavender on your pillow or into a warm bath, or put just a drop on your temples. Not only does it smell wonderful, but you just might find that it relaxes and eases you into a peaceful sleep.
Wishing you sweet dreams,
Dr. Miles Reid