9 Things You Didn't Know About Food And Sleep

So you want to get a good night's sleep. And who doesn't? We all know that what you eat and drink can play a role in the quality of sleep you get, but just how important is your diet for your level of restfulness? Read on to learn nine crucial facts about the relationship between food and sleep.

9 Things You Didn't Know About Food and Sleep (Slideshow)

There are lots of factors in play when it comes to getting a good night's sleep, and not all of them are food-related. Watching television or looking at any bright screen before bedtime can make it harder to fall asleep, because when the lights are on, your body thinks it needs to stay awake. Sleep specialists recommend dimming the lights an hour before you want to hit the sack. Make sure that your bedroom isn't too hot or cold. Exercising a few hours before bedtime can wear you out, but stress, restless leg syndrome, and sleep apnea can all contribute to a poor night's sleep.

But if you've been having trouble sleeping and none of the above factors are in play, consider changing up your diet. There are dozens of variables when it comes to food and sleep: Are you eating foods that are high in the amino acid tyramine instead of the amino acid tryptophan? Then you might have trouble getting to sleep. Are you having an alcoholic nightcap, or are you deficient in certain minerals? Another reason why you might not be sleeping well.

It's crucial to get about eight hours of sleep per night if you want to be a high-functioning human being, but not many of us actually achieve that. Fewer things are more frustrating than laying in bed and finding it impossible to fall asleep, but even if we fall asleep peacefully, there are plenty of ways to still get a poor night's rest. While environmental factors can prevent you from sleeping soundly, what you consume also plays a role. Read on to learn nine things you might not have known about food and sleep.

Carbohydrates Put You to Sleep

Carbs don't just tire you out because you crash after the energy from a carbo-load wears off. Carbohydrates also help make the amino acid tryptophan (which causes sleepiness) available to your brain, so if you're looking to fall asleep, have a midnight snack that contains some carbohydrates as well as protein, which contains the amino acid. Don't eat a huge meal just before bed, however; the digestive process will keep you awake, as will indigestion.

Our Circadian Rhythms, not Lunch, Are Responsible for the Afternoon Crash

Dozing off at your desk at 2 p.m. every day? While your huge lunch might have something to do with it, you actually feel tired at about 2 a.m. and 2 p.m. every day due to the body's natural rhythms. Do your best to power through it!