With more than half of adult Australians suffering from at least one chronic sleep symptom, it’s understandable there’s a strong desire to take advantage of foods that may help you snooze.
While more studies are necessary to determine the real effect of food intake on sleep, what we do know is the relationship between sleep and diet is a two-way street. Sleep deprivation can affect appetite-regulating hormones, which may result in overeating energy-dense foods. Likewise, overeating, especially closer to bedtime may disturb sleep quality.
So, what are some things that you should keep in mind when it comes to your diet that may affect the quality of your sleep?
Chow down in sync with your circadian clock.
Circadian rhythms (aka “your body clock”) are cycles in the body that occur roughly across 24 hours and drives critical functions from hunger, digestion, body temperature, hormone regulation and helping the muscles rebuild stronger post-workout.
According to Dr Satchin Panda, a leading expert in the field of circadian rhythm research and author of “The Circadian Code,” optimal body function occurs when we align our eating patterns with our body clock. In other words, consuming the bulk of your food during the day light hours when the body is primed for metabolising energy.
Australia’s lead sleep advocacy organisation, The Sleep Health Foundation, also advocate eating your last meal or snack at least 2 hours before bedtime to avoid disruption to sleep quality.
Don’t forget breakfast.
Breakfast, as the name suggests, breaks the overnight fasting period. This is important to refuel your body (and brain) and replenish energy stores. Many people find that eating breakfast sets them on the right eating path for the rest of the day. Eating a well-balanced
breakfast can also help stabilise blood sugar and insulin levels – both of which are critical in appetite regulation – meaning you are hopefully less likely to consume excessive energy closer to bedtime to counteract the deficit.
What to include in your breakfast:
Whole grains. Australians, on average, are falling short of the recommended minimum three servings of whole grains foods daily. Starting your day with whole grain cereal, such as rolled oats or whole grain toast is an easy way to consume, one, if not two, servings of whole grains.
And, if you don’t have time for a proper sit-down breakfast, high-fibre options like UNCLE TOBYS Breakfast Bakes contain the same amount of whole grain oats as a bowl of porridge (based on a 34g Original Quick Sachet) and can be easily eaten on-the-go with a piece of fruit or yoghurt and some water for a healthy start to your day.
Nuts. If you’re looking for a nutritional powerhouse to add to your meal, you’ll find it in nuts. They’re good sources of fibre, healthy fats and magnesium – an important mineral for healthy muscles.
Bananas. Not only are they incredibly versatile, bananas provide a natural source of potassium – an important mineral to help you maintain healthy nerve function. The average glycemic index (GI) of bananas is 52 which is classified as low, meaning it’s great for sustained energy.
Eggs. Any way you like them, eggs are rich in the amino acid tryptophan, a type of protein which tends to influence brain serotonin levels to help regulate when you sleep and wake.
Natural yoghurt. Poor sleep can negatively affect your gut microbiome. Foods containing probiotics, like natural yoghurt contain ‘friendly’ bacteria that can help restore the balance of microflora in the gut.