Sleep Better with Food and Fitness

Just as sleep is important to our body, what we do with our body in terms of food and exercise plays a major role in the way we sleep (or don’t sleep).  Good nutrition and exercise can help you sleep, but poor sleep leads to poor eating and exercise decisions immediately. A lack of shut-eye is linked with ditching your workout. It’s one thing to skip the workout to get more sleep once in awhile, but if you ditch your workout and cheat yourself of sleep, then you aren’t breaking the cycle.

Contrary to what we have all been told, eating prior to bed is not such a bad thing after all.  In fact, a light snack containing 25-35 g of carbs can help release serotonin which contributes to a more restful sleep. Foods rich in vitamin B6 also help boost melatonin production, a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness. Lighter is better when eating a bedtime snack to avoid heartburn. Click here to see my latest appearance on the OWN Show to learn more about this old wives tale and the secrets to keeping weight off.

Catch Some Extra ZZZ’s With These Tranquil Eats

  • Magnesium-rich foods like almonds, and calcium rich foods like cheese and crackers help your body use tryptophan and serotonin to get sleepy.
  • 1 piece of raisin toast with 1 Tbsp cream cheese – sweet and satisfying with carbs in the form of grains and dried fruit to help you relax, and calcium from the cream cheese to build your stress-depleted stores will keeping you snoozing through the night.
  • tart-cherry-juice-sleepThis Red Recharger Smoothie combines Greek yogurt and tart cherry juice to give you a boost of melatonin along with powerful antioxidants.
  • A bedtime bowl of cereal helps you make serotonin thanks to the carbohydrates and calcium.
  • This Mango Cherry and Avocado Salad combines creamy avocado with the sweetness of mango and  tangy tart cherries which helps promote melatonin. Top this salad with fish, such as a piece of grilled salmon for some extra vitamin B6, which helps boost melatonin production.
  • Get a boost of vitamin B6 from fish–tuna, halibut, and salmon along with garlic, walnuts and pistachios help your body make serotonin and melatonin.
  • Drinking chamomile tea is associated with an increase of glycine, a chemical that relaxes nerves and muscles and acts like a mild sedative.

If You’re Feeling Tired or Exhausted…

  • Go to sleep, take a nap. It is ok to allow yourself the time to take a nap. Sometimes it is really all we need.
  • If there is no time for a nap do a few jumping jacks or go for a little walk to get your heart rate up and blood pumping.
  • Stay hydrated. Even mild dehydration can affect your mind and alertness. Aim for a minimum of 8-12 glasses of fluid daily, drinking more during warm weather.110310_grains
  • Limit caffeine in the morning – Instead of reaching for the 24 ounce Venti at Starbucks, sip on a  quarter or half-cup of coffee to give you more of a consistent level of alertness. Avoid caffeine after 2pm to prevent disrupted sleep.
  • Prevent spikes in blood sugar – Replace refined carbohydrates with whole grains to produce a steady surge of energy after a meal. Try these overnight oats for breakfast or a snack; they’re full of whole grains and have an ideal balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat to ensure a slow, steady boost of energy.
  • Don’t drink alcohol to fall asleep. This prevents you from reaching the important deep-sleep REM cycle that is required to feel fully rested.
  • Avoid screen time 1 hour prior to bed time. Backlit LCD screens disrupt melatonin production which disrupts you natural sleep cycle.
  • Exercise. Getting your heart pumping and body moving is a great way to reenergize and reduce stress, which is often one of the main culprits that keeps us lying awake at night.
  • Have a notebook by the bed to write down the worries and to-dos for the next day; get them out of your head for now so you can sleep.

Join the Challenge! 

What are your tips and tricks when it comes to getting a restful sleep? Be sure to join this month’s #30daysleepchallenge. All you have to do is “follow” me on Facebook , Twitter or Pinterest. I’ll be posting motivations, and many more tips and tricks to help you get more zzz’s. I’d love to hear from you too! Be sure to share you thoughts and I’ll be responding to your questions EVERY SINGLE DAY. Use the primary hashtag #30daysleepchallenge and #mefirst as the secondary hashtag.

Disclosure: I am a spokesperson for Tart Cherries but was not compensated to write this blog.

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