Don’t hit “snooze” on nutrition.
There is a proven connection between sleep and nutrition, so it’s appropriate that Sleep Awareness Week (March 13–19) and World Sleep Day (March 18) fall in the middle of National Nutrition Month (March). What you eat can affect the way you sleep and how you sleep can affect your eating habits.
Poor Sleep Yields Poor Nutrition Habits
Inadequate sleep has several serious consequences, including increased hunger and decreased energy. When you don’t get enough sleep, you’re likely to overeat. Low energy leads to cravings for foods that provide quick energy. When increased hunger sets in, many people reach for sugar and carbohydrate rich foods that provide quick energy. Lack of sleep has long been linked with weight gain and obesity as well.
Strategic Nutrition to Improve Sleep
Nutrition can be used to improve sleep. The following nutrition tips will help you sleep better:
- Avoid eating large meals before bed since digestion can interfere with sleep.
- Limit caffeine to one to two cups of coffee or tea before noon.
- Limit alcohol intake, especially at night.
- Make sure you’re getting enough calories.
- Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables.
- Eat more whole grains that are high in fiber.
- Decrease your intake of sugar and saturated fats.
Just as certain foods should be avoided to improve sleep, there are foods and nutritional supplements that can serve as sleep aids. The top nutrients that support sleep are 5-HTP, vitamin B6, niacin, magnesium, melatonin, and L-theanine.
Foods to incorporate in your diet as sleep aids include almonds, walnuts, kiwis, warm milk, tart cherries, and herbal remedies like skullcap, lavender, chamomile, and passionflower in the form of tea or capsule.
Eat Better, Sleep Better Class
Already a Wellbeats member? Take our “Eat Better, Sleep Better” class, and incorporate some of the tips into your life in celebration of World Sleep Day. This class breaks down the relationship between nutrition and sleep, explains how much sleep you should be getting, provides tips for improving your sleep, and recommends foods to eat before bedtime.
About World Sleep Day
World Sleep Day is an annual event, intended to be a celebration of sleep and a call to action on important issues related to sleep, including medicine, education, social aspects and driving. It is organized by the World Sleep Day Committee of World Sleep Society and aims to lessen the burden of sleep problems on society through better prevention and management of sleep disorders. World Sleep Day is held the Friday before Spring Vernal Equinox of each year.
National Nutrition Month
National Nutrition Month is an annual campaign created by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. During the month of March, everyone is invited to learn about making informed food choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits.
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