What should I eat to get less sleep?

Eat right, sleep better - with these 7 rules

Fatty food disturbs us when we sleep, carbohydrates make us tired, hunger keeps us awake and beer has two faces: what we eat and drink has a major impact on the quality of our sleep.

Optimal nutritional status is a prerequisite for good sleep

A good supply of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, trace elements, amino acids and enzymes) is important for countless functions of the human organism. This is also the case with sleep: studies have shown that people with an unbalanced micronutrient balance suffered more often from difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep than people who were well cared for. Our circadian rhythm is regulated by hormones, which in turn are directly influenced by food components. The closer our menu gets to the Mediterranean diet (lots of fruit and vegetables, whole foods, high-quality vegetable oils, more fish and legumes than meat, moderate consumption of dairy products), the more beneficial for sleep quality, researchers recently showed.

Incidentally, the older we get, the more noticeable this effect becomes. On the one hand, there is often an increased need for micronutrients due to physical stress or the use of medication. On the other hand, digestive performance declines. If we used to be able to nibble on fatty chips just before going to sleep without any problems, these can deprive us of valuable hours of relaxation as we get older.

If you are one of the almost 30 million Germans who sleep poorly or constantly or often, these tips are sure to help you further:

1. Carbohydrates in the evening make you tired

Don't skimp on complex carbohydrates at dinner! They are found in abundance in whole-grain bread, whole-wheat pasta and potatoes and promote the release of the feel-good hormone serotonin. Serotonin relaxes and ensures a peaceful, restful sleep.

Unfortunately, the opposite trend has been observed in the last few years: More and more people are consciously avoiding carbohydrates in the evening in the hope of losing weight more quickly. But if this renouncement leads to poor sleep as a result, it is not doing the body any good - sleep disorders are in turn linked to cravings and obesity.

2. Fatty food in the evening is heavy on the stomach

It is completely different with high-fat foods. Saturated fatty acids, in particular, bother us long into the night. Fatty dishes such as meat, sausage or salmon lie in the stomach for up to five hours, and very fatty meals such as goose, roast pork or oil sardines for up to eight hours.

In order to digest high-fat foods, the body stimulates the metabolism. A quiet, relaxed sleep is then hardly possible.

3. Don't eat too late - sleep better

There should be at least two hours, or even four hours for fatty foods, between dinner and bedtime. Otherwise the body is still too busy with digestive work and there is no need to think about sleep. If you cannot eat early enough, adjust the amount accordingly.

4. Caution: starvation also makes you sleep poorly!

But hunger is also not conducive to sleep. So there is nothing to be said against a small snack before bed - as long as it is the right one.

Nuts, almonds or trail mix are best suited here. They contain proteins that are essential for a good night's sleep. Sweet treats such as chocolate or gummy bears are not very suitable. The sugar it contains drives up the blood sugar level. That keeps us awake. A few hours later, the blood sugar level drops rapidly. Problems staying asleep can be the result.

5. Beer and Wine: Alcohol has two faces

A glass of beer in the evening? Yes, that can definitely promote sleep! In small amounts, alcohol makes us fall asleep better. At the same time, the hops in the beer have a calming effect. A glass of red wine also has a relaxing effect.

But be careful: With larger quantities (more than two glasses) the tide turns. We still fall asleep quickly, but while the alcohol is being broken down, the body increasingly releases the stress hormone cortisol. This means that the second half of the night is restless. We wake up more often, dream confused and sleep flat overall. In the morning we don't feel really relaxed - and neither are we.

6. Raw food in the evening is not for everyone

If you suffer from insomnia, you should avoid raw food in the evening. As healthy as the fresh green is, raw it can lead to flatulence and discomfort in sensitive people. That robs you of sleep. It is better to stew or steam your vegetables in the evening and enjoy them warm or lukewarm.

7. Drink yourself sleepily

It is well known that caffeinated drinks such as coffee, cola or black and green tea do not promote sleep. From 4 p.m., or even better from 2 p.m., you should do without it if you suffer from insomnia.

But fruit juices also have an invigorating effect. The fruit acid and the vitamins it contains have an invigorating effect and are therefore not recommended just before going to bed.

On the other hand, warm, aromatic drinks such as teas are suitable. Melissa tea is particularly recommended. Melissa (also called lemon balm) has a calming and relaxing effect and thus promotes falling asleep. By the way, you are welcome to sweeten the tea with a teaspoon of honey. Because this also helps the body to sleep relaxed.

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  • Xiaopeng Ji et al .: The relationship between micronutrient status and sleep patterns: a systematic review. In: Public Health Nutrition, Vol. 20, No. 4, 2017, pp. 687-701, doi: 10.1017 / S1368980016002603.

  • Eirini Mamalaki et al .: Associations Between the Mediterranean Diet and Sleep in Older Adults: Results From the Hellenic Longitudinal Investigation of Aging and Diet Study. Geriatr Gerontol Int 2018 Nov; 18 (11): 1543-1548. doi: 10.1111 / ggi.13521.

  • Vanessa M. Hill et al .: A bidirectional relationship between sleep and oxidative stress in Drosophila. PLoS Biology, doi: 10.1371 / journal.pbio.2005206

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