How did you sleep last night? The medical benefits of a good night's rest simply cannot be overemphasized. “Sleep is vital for allowing your brain to regenerate after a long day, and being well-rested helps to keep your body healthy and trim,” explains Dr. Robert Glatter, attending physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “The end result is lower blood pressure and a more favorable lipid profile, reducing your risk for metabolic syndrome, which is associated with elevated cholesterol and central abdominal fat. This, in turn, reduces your risk of a heart attack.”
Glatter goes on to explain that “What we eat and our resulting quality of sleep can also provide insight into the relationship to obesity. Just as a balanced diet can help produce better sleep quality, it's clear that those who sleep better — i.e., more total hours — seem to be better able to maintain their body weight. We know that lack of sleep in fact stimulates production of hormone called ghrelin which can lead to overeating. The more hours you sleep, the fewer calories you will consume the following day.”
According to Glatter, a good night’s rest may also help to “reduce stress, reduce risk for depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders, and help improve memory and ability to focus and stay on task the following day, which can have a greater [positive] impact on life expectancy."
Sounds absolutely dreamy. Unfortunately, getting a decent amount of shuteye can often prove elusive. According to the National Sleep Foundation, over 48 million American adults have reported suffering from insomnia at some point in their lives. Everything from the temperature in your bedroom to muscle pain and the amount of light from our gadgets and gizmos may impact quality of sleep.
What you eat during the day also has a big effect on how you’ll sleep that night. “The bottom line is that our diet has a direct relationship to how well we sleep,” says Glatter. “While most people realize that eating a large meal before bedtime is a bad idea, we now understand that not eating for three hours before bed is optimal to get a more restful night's sleep. This will allow your body to decompress and more effectively release melatonin, a hormone released in the brain, which promotes sleep.”
If you’ve been struggling to get a good night's sleep, read on as our experts reveal foods you should try to avoid before hitting the sack. Take their advice and hopefully you will be sleeping like a baby tonight!
“Alcohol’s effects on sleep have been well studied. If you over-consume alcoholic beverages before bed, you may fall asleep quickly, but you won’t sleep soundly,” says Deborah Orlick Levy, registered dietician and Carrington Farms Health and Nutrition Consultant. . “Women seem to be especially sensitive to alcohol’s effects on sleep. Women wake up more often after the alcohol leaves their system. This leaves them tossing and turning without adequate REM sleep to promote restfulness.”
“Whether it is coffee, tea, or soda, any beverage that has caffeine in it can greatly affect your sleep,” states registered dietician Keri Gans. “Caffeine is a central nervous stimulant that may cause insomnia in many individuals. Some research recommends that you do not consume any caffeine a minimum of six hours before bedtime.”