Registered Dietitian Elizabeth Somer recalls the diet tips all women who suffer with insomnia should know.
Registered Dietitian Elizabeth Somer:
Insomniacs, well, assuming that, you know, your insomnia isn’t due to some terrible life event that you’re all worried about but, which of course can be part of it, there’s a lots of things you can do to reduce your risk for sleep problems.
The first one I will focus on is caffeine. Caffeine and coffee, chocolate, colas, teas can linger in the system up to 12 hours and if you are drinking coffee at 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon and then wondering why you are tossing and turning in the evening, it could be that you are one of those people that’s more sensitive to caffeine and it’s still in there brewing, keeping your nerve cells firing and keeping you wide awake.
So caffeine is the first thing. I recommend to anybody that’s battling sleep problems, cut out caffeine for two weeks. Don’t drink coffee, don’t drink tea, don’t eat chocolate, and don’t drink colas or any of the energy drinks, the Red Bulls, and all that stuff. Just eliminate caffeine from the diet for just two weeks, not forever, just two weeks, and see if you see an improvement in your sleep habits. If you do, caffeine has been contributing to your sleep problem.
You probably can still have a cup of coffee once in a while. Keep it in the morning and keep it to one or two, but don’t drink any for those two weeks; give that a try.
Second thing is, keep your evening meal light. Yes, a great, big, heavy meal will make you groggy, but it actually interferes with the sound night sleep. So keep the evening meal light, add a little, you know, a mix of healthy fats like olive oil and maybe a little bit of pasta, maybe a little chicken breast, and lots of fruits and vegetables.
Eat at least two to three hours before you go to bed, four is even better, and again, keep not a big portion and not a greasy portion, keep that evening meal light. Watch out for spicy or gas-forming foods. I mean, this is just kind of common sense that if you’ve got heartburn or gas, you are not going to sleep as well in the middle of the night.
MSG is another one that they add to Chinese food often, but you can even get them in packaged foods and some people are sensitive to MSG and it causes wild dreaming and disruptive sleep. So, avoid gas-forming foods, spicy foods, MSG-laden foods and see if that improves your sleep habits.
And then finally, about an hour before you go to bed, have an all-carb snack–a small one. You only need about 30 grams of carbs to do this, but have an all-carb snack. Maybe it’s some air-popped popcorn, half of a whole grain English muffin with a little jam on the top. It will raise a brain chemical called serotonin and when serotonin levels are high, you tend to sleep like a baby.
About Elizabeth Somer:
Elizabeth Somer, M.A., is a registered dietitian who has carved a unique professional niche as one of the few, if not only, dietitians who is well-versed in nutrition research. For 25 years, she has kept abreast of the current research, packaging that information into easy-to-read books, magazine articles, lectures, continuing education seminars, and practical news for the media.