Embrace World Sleep Day With Before-Bed Eating Tips & a Relaxation-Worthy Recipe
Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN
Our guest author, Patricia Bannan, is a nationally recognized registered dietitian and healthy cooking expert known for appearances on The TODAY Show, The Doctors, ABC News, Fox News Channel and CNN.
Sleep is precious during every stage of life, but especially during transitional periods such as menopause.1 It may not be surprising to know that women in their forties and fifties report more difficulty sleeping (insomnia) than younger women.2 March 13th is World Sleep Day and is the perfect time to talk about the importance of sleep for overall health and well-being. It’s also a great opportunity to highlight which foods to include and avoid for a better night’s sleep.
What is World Sleep Day?
World Sleep Day is an annual event that helps bring awareness and recognition to the importance of sleep, and how it can impact many different areas of your life and wellness. The celebration was started by a group of healthcare providers as a way to share information on sleep health and its importance.
The event is hosted by the nonprofit World Sleep Society (WSS), and will be celebrated this year on Friday, March 13th.
Sleep and Health
Not getting a restful night’s sleep does a lot more than simply making you feel tired the next day. Research shows that:
- One night of poor-quality sleep negatively impacts learning, memory, and attention.
- Short-duration sleep has been identified as a modifiable risk factor for obesity.
- A reduction in sleep impacts hormones that increase appetite.
- Routine, non-interrupted sleep can help lower the risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and chronic illnesses.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of quality sleep every night for most adults in order to support proper health and well-being.
Eating Before Bed: Dos & Don'ts
What you eat before bed can either help or hinder your sleep. Here are some foods to include, as well as those to avoid to promote some quality Zzzs.
- Kiwi - Eating kiwi before bed has been associated with falling asleep faster, staying asleep longer, and also reducing how much you wake up in the middle of the night.
- Nuts - Most nuts like almonds, walnuts, and cashews are natural sources of melatonin, a hormone that regulates our circadian rhythm. They also contain the mineral magnesium, which helps reduce inflammation and cortisol in the body, both of which can help promote a better night’s sleep.
- Fatty Fish - Fish with a higher fat content, like salmon, mackerel, herring, anchovies, and sardines contain higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) and vitamin D. These nutrients have been associated with increasing levels of serotonin, a chemical in the brain that helps promote sleep.
- Chamomile Tea - Chamomile contains an antioxidant known as apigenin that can help promote sleepiness and combat insomnia.
- Caffeine - You may know that drinking a cup of coffee before bed can interrupt sleep, but did you know caffeine can stay in your body for up to 5 hours? Non-herbal teas and chocolate also contain caffeine, and should be avoided closer to bedtime to prevent sleep disruption.
- Alcohol - While it can initially help you feel more tired and fall asleep faster, alcohol can also interrupt your circadian rhythm, block REM sleep, and inhibit restorative sleep.
- Fatty Foods - This isn’t referring to the fatty fish mentioned before, but rather foods like French fries, burgers, ice cream sundaes, and pizza. Higher fat foods take longer for your body to digest, and if eaten closer to bedtime, can interrupt sleep patterns.
- Spicy Foods - For many, spicy foods like hot peppers, cayenne pepper, hot sauce, or buffalo-flavored foods can trigger heartburn, especially when eaten at night. Suffering from heartburn at bedtime can make it harder to fall and stay asleep.
Before you go to bed tonight, think about your food choices and how they might be helping or hindering your sleep. Whether it’s no screen time after 9pm or only having caffeinated beverages before noon, create small actionable goals to help yourself get a better night’s sleep moving forward.
If you’re looking for a World Sleep Day-worthy recipe to help you relax, look no further than this Sleepy Lavender Chamomile Milk.
- Kravitz, H. M., Ganz, P. A., Bromberger, J., Powell, L. H., Sutton-Tyrrell, K., Meyer, P. M. (2003). Sleep difficulty in women at midlife: a community survey of sleep and the menopausal transition. Menopause; 10, 19–28.
- US National Institute of Health - National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. “Your Guide to Healthy Sleep”. Originated in 2005, Revised in 2011. Webpage. Accessed on November 11, 2019. <HTTPS://WWW.NHLBI.NIH.GOV/FILES/DOCS/PUBLIC/SLEEP/HEALTHY_SLEEP.PDF>