I'm still having a hard time believing that a burrito will help anyone sleep at night, but a NYC dietician says it does! The NY Daily News featured an article today that lists the best and worst foods for a good night's sleep. Click the link above if you want to read the whole article. Since we'll need all the help we can get sleeping this week (especially those of us without AC).....I'll post the highlights below!
Foods for Sleep: The Good
Carbohydrates are "calming foods" says Annemarie Colbin, the founder and CEO of the Natural Gourmet Institute, a health-minded culinary school on W. 21st Street, because they help the body increase its absorption of the sleep-friendly neurotransmitter called serotonin. Like all dieticians, she recommends choosing nutrient-packed whole grains like beans, barley, brown rice and whole wheat bread over refined carbs like pasta, but all can help you reach a sounder snooze.
A Turkey Sandwich
That Thanksgiving joke about turkey and tryptophan is true: The amino acid – it's found in poultry, eggs, soy and seafood -- gets turned into serotonin in your body, says Mary Jane Detroyer, a Manhattan registered dietician and exercise physiologist. Tofu, scrambled eggs and fish are smarter sleep choices than beef or pork, and you can always follow it up with that old standby, the glass of warm milk: Yes, it has tryptophan, too.
Like pasta and brown rice, sugars are also carbohydrates, says Colbin, and they can help calm you down before bedtime. She recommends sating your sweet tooth with natural, nutrient-rich desserts like bananas and dates.
Tofu and Veggie Stir-Fry
Heavy, high-fat, protein-packed meals are harder for your body to digest, says Detroyer. Eating lighter at night helps you rest, she says, and you'll get more bang for your bedtime buck if you consider the carb and tryptophan quotient of dinner, too. A tofu stir-fry loaded with veggies is filling and has both, as does pasta with cheese or scrambled eggs and whole wheat toast.
Two Warm Oatmeal Cookies and Chamomile Tea
Sometimes you need to tell your body it's bedtime, says Heather Bauer, a registered dietician and the founder of Nu-train, a nutrition counseling center in Manhattan: "Create a calming pre-sleep ritual each night," she says, "that you know will help relieve you of the stress from your day." Food can play a part, like carb-friendly oatmeal cookies dunked in a warm, caffeine-free quaff. Chamomile tea, in particular, is known for its soothing qualities
Foods for Sleep: The Bad
Double Chocolate Mousse
An espresso late at night isn't a smart idea for the majority of sleepers. But chocolate and green tea have caffeine too, says Mary Jane Detroyer. "Caffeine takes about six hours to leave your body," she says, so if you know caffeine affects your slumber, end your meal with blueberry pie rather than double dose of chocolate.
A lot of us eat a small bowl of pasta for lunch, saving the meat and potatoes for dinner. But in terms of sleep, says Annemarie Colbin, we're getting it backwards. Carbs are calming, she says, while proteins in meat provide energy. Suppers high in salt might also keep you up: "It raises your blood pressure," says Colbin, "so then you get more energized."
Pepperoni Pizzas at Midnight
"You don't want to eat a large, heavy, rich meal late at night because that disrupts your sleep," says Detroyer. But going to bed hungry can keep you up too: Go with a lighter snack around 150 to 200 calories with calming properties, she says – like carb-friendly bowls of warm oatmeal or Cheerios and reduced fat milk, or a little hummus and whole wheat pita -- or plan the feast a little earlier in the evening. (She's got plenty of recipe ideas, by the way, at www.maryjanedetroyer.com.)
Three Glasses of Water
Most of us know that alcohol affects the quality of rest, says Heather Bauer, and it "often causes you to awaken in the middle of the night." But the latter can happen if you over-hydrate, too: Drink all that water in the morning, not right before bed.
Super Hot Salsa
Have heartburn? Then skip spicy or irritating foods like chilies, high-acid tomatoes, chocolate and fresh mint, says Bauer, if not altogether, then at least a few hours before bedtime. And if you know your body doesn't react well to garlic, onions or other foods, she says, don't eat them just before your head hits the pillow.
Avoid too much alcohol
While alcohol can send you to sleep, it doesn't help you get the kind of deep sleep you need to let your brain perform essential work on your resting body.
So while a snifter of a good Scotch before you retire each night probably won't rob you of your beauty sleep, there are other drinks that are better at bedtime.
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