How To Eat Your Way To A Better Night’s Sleep

Renowned nutritionist Gabriela Peacock reveals all the tricks of the trade

How To Eat Your Way To A Better Night’s Sleep

by Chloe Burcham |
Updated on

Have you ever noticed how what you eat can have an impact on how well you sleep? Well, it turns out you’re not imagining it. Whether it’s struggling to snooze after a high-carb takeaway or waking up during the night for no reason after a roast dinner, what we eat can have a huge impact on our digestion and in turn, how well we sleep.

And as we all know that getting a good night’s rest is key for both our mental and physical help, so Grazia spoke to Gabriela Peacock, to find out exactly how food affects our ability to rest and how we can actually eat our way to a great night’s sleep.

‘Our diet definitely affects the way we sleep at night,’ says Gabriela. ‘For example, a diet high in sugar will imbalance ourblood sugar levelswhich will prevent us from having a good night’s sleep. On the other hand, there are other nutrients such as tryptophan [an amino acid found in high-protein foods like chicken, eggs and fish] which are fantastic and really calming.’

Gabriela Peacock (credit: Kate Martin)

Does the time that we eat have a part to play in getting a good night’s sleep?

‘Yes, absolutely,’ says Gabriela. ‘Try not to eat too close to your bedtime to allow your body to have time to digest your food properly. Eating regular, well-balanced meals is very important.

In terms of what you eat? Gabriela suggests sticking to a high protein, low carb meal in the evening. ‘Low-fibre carbohydrates will spike blood sugars, which will make sleep difficult – so it’s best to avoid these.’ That means cutting down on the white pasta, rice and bread before bedtime. ‘It’s best to avoid sugar or alcohol, too!’

What’s the ideal evening routine when it comes to food and drink in the few hours leading up to bedtime?

‘It’s really not just about the diet, but about what you do leading up to bedtime, that will help you sleep better,’ advises Gabriela. ‘Small changes, such as avoiding computers or screens, ensuring your bedroom is cold enough, or even leaving a small pad of paper next to your bed so that you can write down any thoughts.’

‘Having a small snack that is high in trytophan, i.e. a piece of cheese will stimulate serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter which will help us relax and feel sleepy. Avoid alcohol as this can prevent REM sleep – arguably the most important part of your sleep cycle.

‘Finally, creating a strong sleep routine works wonders. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Night-time rituals will enforce good sleep practice.’

Gabriela Peacock’s book 2 Weeks to Feeling Great is published by Kyle Books

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