Better Sleep, Better Life™

I’m sure you’re thinking, what does nutrition have to do with sleep? Robin blogs about food all the time when she is passionate about helping people sleep better. How can what I eat have an impact on how well I sleep at night?

Yes, it’s a crazy correlation, I’m sure you’re thinking. While consulting with my clients to help them feel better I realized that folks just didn’t realize how important sleep was to the healing process. Perhaps I didn’t realize it at first either. I kept revisiting sleep every time I consulted with a client. I discovered that unless people got enough restorative sleep (I’ll explain this in another entry) their bodies would never heal long term. So…no matter how well they ate or how many supplements they took they would never make sustainable progress without a good night’s rest so necessary for healing.

So what role does food have in all this? Well, I’ve learned that by managing our master “hormone” blood sugar throughout the day by what we eat, we can keep our bodies in balance to rest at night. If we eat and drink foods that raise and lower our blood sugar dramatically, our hormones will react this same way at night. What this means is that we will feel great (energetic) and then lousy (fatigued) over and over and over. Not so helpful for sleeping as we would like our minds and our bodies to be resting. That nighttime chatter in our heads can drive us crazy as can those huge temperature swings, throwing the covers on and off!

So the key here is to eat a low glycemic meal at least three times daily. Here are some key points to keeping your body in balance so you can sleep at night:

1) Eat a healthy protein, fat, and carbohydrate at every meal, organic of course (did you see Food, Inc.?) Eat your first meal of the day within an hour of waking.

2) Never go for more than five hours without eating.

3) Protein = fish, free-range, hormone/antibiotic/organic meats, and cheese/Fage yogurt (if you can do dairy)

4) Carbohydrate = vegetables, fruits, legumes (beans), whole grains (in very small quantities)

5) Fat = avocado, nuts/seeds, olive oil, butter (yes!!), coconut oil, grapeseed oil,  nut/seed oils

6) Fill your plate with a piece of protein the size of the palm of your hand and the same thickness, and the rest with vegetables and fruits with a dollop of fat, i.e. slivered almonds, olive oil dressing, avocado and you’ve got fabulous, sleep until your rested, meal. Woo hoo!

7) If you must eat grains, eat a very small portion, i.e. 1/4 cup brown rice, 1 slice of whole-grain bread, 1/4 bagel, etc. and always with protein.

8) If you must have ONE cup of coffee, eat breakfast FIRST, then enjoy it! Otherwise, you will imbalance your hormones right from the start making your night that much more restless. If you happen to be someone who cannot tolerate caffeine, then indulge your body by drinking decaffeinated herbal teas or green tea.

Simple, huh? Want to improve your sleep? Give the above strategy a try for a week and see what wonderful changes you notice.

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