What to eat, and what not to eat, for a good night’s sleep

iStock/Thinkstock
iStock/Thinkstock

(NEW YORK) — How well you sleep can have a significant impact on your overall health, and not getting enough sleep has even been linked to overeating, according to ABC News’ senior medical contributor, Dr. Jennifer Ashton.

Ashton appeared on Good Morning America to share why it is so important for adults to get seven to nine hours of sleep a night, saying that insufficient sleep impacts your hunger and fullness hormones.

When you’re not getting enough sleep, the levels of certain hormones that indicate fullness plummet, which signals to your brain to eat more food. As a result, sleep deprivation can lead to overeating and gaining extra pounds, according to Ashton.

If you find yourself especially hungry late at night, Ashton shared her top picks for foods that can help promote good sleep, as well as what to avoid eating before going to bed.

Foods that help a good sleep:

Dairy products contain tryptophan, a sleep-promoting substance, which is why they make the perfect late night snack, according to Ashton.

Other foods that contain tryptophan include nuts and seeds, bananas, honey and eggs.

If you are especially hungry at night, Ashton recommends going for some carbohydrate-rich foods, which may help boost tryptophan in your blood. She recommends eating a bowl of cereal and milk, nuts and crackers, or bread and cheese.

Foods that hurt a good sleep:

Spicy foods, such as jalapeños, can hurt your sleep, Ashton said.

Chocolate contains “hidden caffeine,” and should be avoided before bedtime, according to Ashton.

Alcohol can also hurt the quality of your sleep.

Foods high in protein can hurt your sleep because they are harder to digest and contain the amino acid tyrosine, which promotes brain activity. Ashton recommends skipping out on high-protein snacks before bedtime.

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