The Total Body Diet and the importance of a Good Night's Sleep - dummies

The Total Body Diet and the importance of a Good Night’s Sleep

By Victoria Shanta Retelny, Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

Your lifestyle greatly affects your sleep quality and patterns. What you eat, what you drink, and how physically active you are play a big role in how well you rest. Here are some lifestyle changes that you can make in your Total Body Diet that can help you sleep better, too:

  • Avoid caffeinated foods and beverages at least four hours before bed. Caffeine is a stimulant, and it can make it harder to fall asleep. Go for decaffeinated coffee, or have herbal tea, which is naturally caffeine-free. Skip the chocolate cake or brownie (or have less) — the caffeine may affect your shuteye.

  • Limit alcoholic beverages close to bedtime. Alcohol may make you drowsy at first, but it may cause you to wake up during the night, especially the second half of the night, when you’re in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep — the restorative, dream phase. The more you drink, the greater the disruptions, according to sleep experts. Limit your nightcap to one standard drink (12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1-1/2 ounces of liquor), if you want one, and have it at least a few hours before bed.

    Alcohol is one of the most commonly used over-the-counter sleep aids, according to a review in the journal Alcohol. However, it does the contrary: It disrupts sleep, causing insomnia, daytime sleepiness, and snoring or sleep apnea (a start-stop breathing pattern during sleep), leading to many other health problems. If you’re dependent on alcohol to fall asleep, this could be a red flag to stop or evaluate whether you have a drinking problem. Seek professional help from your healthcare provider or an addiction specialist.

  • Work out earlier in the day. Taking an evening boxing class or lacing up your running shoes at dusk may be tempting, but it can leave you feeling wired and then you may find it hard to unwind and get to sleep. Swap this more intense exercise in the evening for more relaxing activities like yoga nidra, which is a conscious deep sleep. There are many yoga nidra workshops and free downloadable audios available online.

  • Eat lighter at night. If you eat a large, high-calorie, fatty meal in the evening, you’re bound to have a harder time getting to sleep and staying there — you may wake up with heartburn or may toss and turn due to a full stomach.

    Here are some smaller meal ideas for the evening:

    • A 3-ounce piece of grilled fish, 1 cup of broccoli, and 1/2 cup of cooked brown rice

    • 1 cup of tofu stir-fried with 1 cup of mixed veggies and 1/2 cup of cooked brown rice

    • 2 cups of mixed greens salad with a 3-ounce sliced baked chicken breast and 1/2 cup of cooked whole wheat couscous

    • 2 slices (or 2 ounces) of turkey breast, 1/2 medium avocado, and 1 cup mixed greens in a 6-inch whole-grain wrap

    For nighttime snacks, try the following:

    • 1 cup of plain lowfat Greek yogurt with 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed and a 1 teaspoon drizzle of honey

    • A piece of whole-grain toast with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and a handful of grapes

    • 1/2 cup of cottage cheese spread on a large rice cake and 1 small apple

    • Two slices of turkey breast rolled up with two thin slices of cucumber and 1/2 slice of provolone cheese in each slice