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Have Trouble Sleeping? Follow This Meal Plan and Avoid These 10 Things
By Rachel Link, RD, MS
December 23, 2021
Getting enough sleep each night is integral to overall health. Not only can it provide long-lasting energy to help you power through your day, but it can also ensure that you look and feel your best. Plus, sleep is also involved in several other aspects of health and is crucial for normal cellular repair and regeneration.
There are many different factors that can impact your sleep cycle, including your diet. Not only have some foods been linked to improved sleep quality and enhanced energy levels, but certain ingredients can also provide nutrients that help encourage sleep.
In addition to filling up on these key foods just before bedtime, a healthy sleep-supporting menu should also include plenty of high-quality, nutrient-dense foods throughout the day to boost energy levels and help fight fatigue.
Certain sleep supplements may also be beneficial. Ashwagandha, for example, can help support energy levels, healthy memory, focus and restful sleep. It also helps reduce stress. Multi Collagen Protein - Beauty + Sleep and Multi Collagen Protein - Rest + Recovery have also been formulated specifically to promote restful sleep and a calm, relaxed state of mind.
Here is a three-day sample meal plan for people who can’t sleep very well:
Breakfast: oatmeal with peaches, chia seeds, and raw honey
Morning Snack: sliced banana with peanut butter
Lunch: Buddha bowl with marinated tempeh, cabbage, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower rice
Afternoon Snack: cinnamon roasted almonds
Dinner: roast turkey with herbed quinoa and zucchini
Evening Snack: smoothie with berries, oat milk and Multi Collagen Protein - Beauty + Sleep
Breakfast: omelet with peppers, onions, and mushrooms
Morning Snack: air-popped popcorn and Keto Cocoa with coconut milk
Lunch: vegetarian chili with beans, diced tomatoes, carrots and peppers
Afternoon Snack: pumpkin seed hummus with carrots
Dinner: taco salad with grass-fed beef, lettuce, avocados, tomatoes, radishes and cilantro
Evening Snack: sliced kiwi with chamomile tea
Breakfast: almond flour pancakes with mixed fruit
Morning Snack: bell peppers with guacamole
Lunch: rosemary chicken with garlic kale and roasted potatoes
Afternoon Snack: Greek yogurt with honey and chopped walnuts
Dinner: baked garlic salmon with rice and sautéed spinach
Evening Snack: green smoothie bowl with Multi Collagen Protein Rest + Recovery - Mixed Berry
Related: Best Drink Recipes for Better Sleep
In addition to incorporating a few sleep-promoting foods and supplements into your daily diet, steering clear of certain ingredients may also be beneficial.
Here are some of the top foods and beverages to avoid to help promote better sleep.
Coffee is jam-packed with caffeine, which acts as a central nervous system stimulant, providing a jolt of energy that can make it more difficult to fall asleep.
For best results, stick to less than 400 milligrams of caffeine daily (or about four cups of coffee) and enjoy earlier in the day before 2 p.m. to avoid sabotaging your sleep schedule.
Although grapefruit is loaded with important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, it’s also highly acidic. For those with acid reflux, it could cause heartburn if consumed before bed, making it difficult to fall asleep.
Instead, try eating grapefruit for breakfast or as a mid-morning snack rather than right before bedtime.
Like other dairy products, cheese is high in fat, which is digested very slowly in the body. For some people, it can also cause digestive issues like gas, stomach pain and bloating, which can make falling asleep even more uncomfortable and challenging.
One cup of black tea has about 47 milligrams of caffeine. While this is much less than coffee, it’s definitely enough to interfere with your sleep cycle, especially if you’re sensitive to caffeine.
Instead, stick to herbal tea varieties like chamomile tea or peppermint tea to support better sleep.
Sugary sweets like cookies, candies and baked goods may not be the best choice for an evening snack. These foods are high in added sugar and low in fiber, often causing blood sugar levels to spike and then plummet.
Not only can this leave you feeling even hungrier than before, but it can also increase the risk of waking up in the middle of the night.
A glass of wine just before bed may help you fall asleep more quickly, but research shows that it can actually disrupt your sleep schedule later in the night and can increase the risk of waking up in the middle of the night.
What’s more, it also can block rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which is essential for learning, retaining information and storing memories.
Thanks to its high water content, celery acts as a natural diuretic, meaning that it increases the production of urine. Although it’s likely fine in moderation for most people, chomping on celery sticks just before bed could increase the risk of waking up a few hours later to relieve your bladder.
Chocolate — and dark chocolate, in particular — contains some caffeine in every serving, with around 12 milligrams in one ounce. While this is unlikely to have much of an impact on sleep, loading up on the sweet treats right before bed can cause your caffeine consumption to quickly start stacking up.
Ideally, enjoy dark chocolate in moderation as part of a healthy, well-rounded diet, ideally no less than 4-5 hours before bed.
Fried foods like French fries, mozzarella sticks, corn dogs and donuts are high in fat and are digested very slowly, meaning that they sit in your stomach for longer periods of time.
Plus, they can also cause the lower esophageal sphincter to relax, which allows stomach acid to splash back up into the esophagus, which can trigger heartburn.
There’s no doubt that broccoli is a powerhouse of nutrition. However, it can also cause unpleasant digestive issues for those who are sensitive to it, including gas and bloating. Like other cruciferous vegetables, broccoli contains a type of non-digestible complex sugar known as raffinose, which can increase the production of gas.
If you find that broccoli or other cruciferous veggies cause digestive distress for you, start with a smaller serving size and swap out for other greens near bedtime.
Rachael Link, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian based in New York City. She completed her undergraduate degree in Dietetics at the University of Central Missouri and later received her Master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition from New York University. Rachael is passionate about plant-based nutrition and enjoys providing easy-to-understand information to readers looking to support their health.