Support-Hours: 9 am to 5.30pm GMT

Sleep: eat your way to a good night’s sleep

What is the answer to a perfect night’s sleep? This is a question that health professionals have been trying to answer for centuries, but sadly there is no magic fix. But we say to embrace our ethos: Eat, Sleep, Pilates!

The quality and quantity (equally important!) of our sleep are affected by many different factors, including environment, emotions, stress and anxiety, age, certain medications, and last but not least, our diets. So if you feel groggy or losing motivation to workout after all those holiday meals there is a reason!

Here are some foods that could affect your motivation to get through that dynamic pilates class and some foods that can help you get back on the reformer! 

Foods that stop us from sleeping well

There are certain foods that we need to be wary of as they can harm our sleep quality and quantity. You can probably guess what some of these are!

  • Caffeine: a stimulant that can stay in our bodies for up to 12 hrs after consumption. Try to avoid having caffeine after 3 pm, and remember that even things like chocolate, decaf coffee/tea, fizzy drinks like Coca Cola and even some medications contain caffeine
  • Alcohol: stops us from having REM (dream) sleep which is essential for cognitive recovery. The larger the consumption, the more you’ll notice the effects. Need some tips to get through parties and get togethers without that hangover and get a good night’s sleep? Read our article 7 Ways to Kick that Holiday Hangover here! 
  • Sugar: another stimulant that can wreak havoc on our blood sugar balance and harm sleep. Try and avoid high-sugar foods before bedtime
  • Spicy/acidic foods: contain high levels of capsaicin. A chemical that increases body temperature by interfering with the body’s natural thermoregulation system. We sleep better when our body is comfortable, so don’t have a spicy curry just before bed!
  • Eating before bedtime: this can lead to a full stomach and an overactive digestive system which can cause discomfort when trying to get to sleep. If you are hungry, a pre-bedtime snack is ok if it is small and contains protein
  • Imbalanced blood sugar: If your blood sugar levels are imbalanced, you may wake up as your blood sugar drops. Try to avoid skipping meals and maintain consistent energy.

Foods that can improve our sleep

There are certain food- we should focus on eating more of as they contain specific nutrients that support our ability to sleep.

  1. Tryptophan-rich foods – we cannot make this amino acid ourselves and only get it from foods. It helps to produce melatonin, our sleep hormones– Chicken, turkey, milk, dairy, nuts, and seeds plus carbohydrates
  2. Magnesium-rich foods – these relax the nervous system and help us fall asleep– Dark leafy greens like spinach, quinoa, cashews, black beans, avocado, wholegrains
  3. B vitamins, especially B6 – low levels link to insomnia– Pork, sweet potatoes, pistachios, wholegrain cereals, bananas, fish ex: salmon, and tuna
  4. Vitamin D – is linked to energy, mood, and sleep– sunlight, fatty fish, mushrooms, egg yolks, supplements
    – Cherries – the Montmorency variety naturally contains melatonin
  5. Complex carbohydrates aim for a third of your plate to be whole grains and high-fiber foods such as brown rice, brown pasta, quinoa, new potatoes, etc., in your evening meal. These foods keep your serotonin levels (a neurotransmitter with a sleep-regulation role) in check and therefore promote sleep

Food affects us in so many ways. You can also read how it affects our moods here in  Food and mood: can we improve our mental health through good nutrition?   

The bottom line – Eat, Sleep, Pilates!

Sleep is very personalized, and what works for one person may not work for someone else. Some of the recommendations may also involve an element of trial and error, so don’t be discouraged if your sleep does not improve immediately – give it a chance and keep going until you find something that works for you.

Related posts