Many women find that they have trouble sleeping as they go through menopause. You may be experiencing trouble getting to sleep or trouble staying asleep. Did you know that what you eat can affect your sleep?
Sleep is important. Lack of sleep can lead to weight gain, low energy, higher blood pressure, insulin resistance, mood swings, and brain fog. Getting better sleep can lower the risk of developing many menopause symptoms and chronic diseases. It also helps to support your immune system. You are more likely to fend off viruses like the common cold or have fewer cold symptoms when you get enough sleep. If you are looking for more ways to get a better sleep, then check out this article
There are certain foods that promote better sleep and other foods that should be limited before bed or at other times during the day to help you sleep better.
What foods/ drinks should you avoid?
Several food contain substances or cause increases in hormones that make it harder to sleep.
Caffeine is one of the most well known substances that affects sleep. Caffeine is a stimulant and foods and beverages containing caffeine make it harder to wind down at night. Try stopping your caffeine consumption early in the afternoon to help you sleep better. Some women find that they also need to reduce caffeine consumption in general. Caffeine is found in coffee, black and green tea, chocolate and cola drinks. Caffeine is also a common hot flash and night sweat trigger.
Some foods raise cortisol levels. Cortisol is the stress hormone which causes the fight or flight stress response. Cortisol levels are naturally higher in the morning and lower in the evening for most people. But eating some foods can contribute to chronically high cortisol levels or an imbalance of cortisol rhythms. Foods that are high in sugar and processed foods can raise cortisol levels and contribute to imbalances making it harder to fall asleep or get back to sleep when you wake up.
Alcohol containing beverages can also disrupt your sleep patterns. You may think that alcohol helps you to fall asleep and it can help you to fall asleep more quickly, but it reduces REM sleep (when you dream) which is believed to be restorative. Alcohol can also contribute to hot flashes and night sweats which can make sleep difficult.
For some women, too much liquid, in general, can cause sleep issues. If you drink any beverages close to bedtime, you may find that you are waking up to use the bathroom. Alcohol is a diuretic, so especially problematic.
A diet high in fats seems to contribute to lower quality sleep. Studies have shown that eating a fatty meal before bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep and harder to stay asleep. A fatty meal before bed can also cause more sleep disturbances and abnormal breathing while sleeping.
Foods that cause indigestion or other digestive issues can also cause poor sleep. Spicy foods and large meals should be avoided close to bedtime for this reason.
Timing is definitely key for all of these foods. Eating or drinking these foods close to bedtime is more likely to disrupt sleep. If you are prone to waking up in the night, then also consider drinking less liquid before bed.
The timing of protein consumption is important for better sleep. Protein takes more energy to digest so is better consumed earlier in the day and not right before bed. This also gives your body protein when it needs it to maintain muscle and bone while you are most active. Better to eat a light snack that is higher in carbohydrates (choose from one of the sleep promoting foods listed below) when it is closer to bed.
What should you eat?
In addition to reducing foods that disrupt your sleep, adding foods that support sleep is also beneficial. Check out these breakfast ideas that help you get better sleep.
Sleep is regulated by the hormone melatonin, so eating foods that contain melatonin are believed to be beneficial for sleep. Some foods that contain melatonin include some red grapes, tart cherries, some nuts, and rice.
Some foods contain tryptophan which helps to convert serotonin into melatonin, helping with sleep. Foods that contain tryptophan include milk, chicken, turkey, fish, nuts and seeds, many vegetables, and some grains.
Foods that contain magnesium are beneficial for sleep. Magnesium helps to regulate melatonin and it also helps to keep you feeling calm and relaxed. It can also help to improve the quality of your sleep. Foods that are high in magnesium include dark chocolate, avocados, nuts, beans, lentils, whole grains, and leafy green vegetables. Magnesium containing foods also help to reduce night sweats.
Foods and drinks that help you relax like chamomile tea can be beneficial for sleep, but if you tend to wake up to use the bathroom, you might want to avoid this.
Eating a diet of healthy, whole foods and reducing foods that contain caffeine, are high in sugar or fat will help you to sleep better. The Healthy Changes Program can help with this.