Sleep and Dieting

If you’re trying to lose weight, make sure you’re getting enough sleep at night. Why? Well, if you’re waking up several times throughout the night you may find yourself in front of the refrigerator more often than you’d like. Boredom, anxiety, and a reset sleep-wake cycle can trick your mind into thinking you’re hungry, even when you’re not.

Sleep disturbances can be caused by any number of things, but before seeking out sleep help, consider two of the top insomnia culprits: food and pillows. While the two seem an unlikely duo, they actually go hand-in-hand when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep.

The first thing you should do is make sure you have a good pillow that helps you sleep. If your pillow looks like it may have accompanied a soldier into the trenches during World War I, it’s probably time to replace it. Old pillows can harbor dangerous mold, dust mites, and lose a fair bit of shape over time. The whole idea of using a pillow in the first place is to cradle your head and neck into a natural alignment, aiding in sleep and promoting good health throughout the body. Look for polyester pillows and/or visco elastic pillows on your next shopping trip.

The next thing you want to consider is the types of food you’re eating. It’s not a good idea to overindulge on your favorite snacks late into the evening, but it’s an even worse idea to go to bed hungry. Foods that can help you sleep include food high in tryptophan (think oats, bananas, peanuts, and warm milk) before bedtime. A little will go a long way, so avoid overeating. All you want to do is leave your tummy feeling satisfied and comfortably full before bed. The trick is to keep the meal fairly light while combining carbohydrates and protein in your nightly snack. Cheese and a piece of fruit, crackers and peanut butter, oats, and toast with eggs make great choices. Then there are the foods that interfere with sleep. Too much alcohol, a heavy, spicy meal, and caffeine are known to disrupt healthy sleep patterns.

It can be a complicated issue, but by focusing on the basics of good sleep hygiene, you can become your own best sleep help advocate.

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