What song do you want to hear Brad Paisley perform during our Citi Concert Series? Tweet using #BradPaisleyTODAY

Health & Wellness

6 ways your diet is sabotaging your sleep

Getting adequate sleep is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, but according to the National Sleep Foundation, roughly 45 percent of Americans experience poor or insufficient sleep. Well, what we're all eating could be the part of the problem.

Certain foods can interfere with a good night’s rest, while others can help promote quality sleep. Here are six foods that may be contributing to restless nights, and what you should be eating to catch more zzz's.

1. Wine-ing down

Are you guilty of a glass of wine (or two) before bed? Or do you pour yourself an evening “night-cap”? According to nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner, author of The Superfood Swap, that might not be the best idea, “Alcohol makes it harder to fall into a deep reparative sleep.”

Closed Captioning
apply | reset x
font
size
T
T
T
T
color

Why you can't actually function on less sleep, despite what you think

Play Video - 1:31

Why you can't actually function on less sleep, despite what you think

Play Video - 1:31

While a cocktail may help put you to sleep, ultimately the quality of sleep is less than optimal. Dr. Hrayr Attarian, a sleep specialist at Northwestern University, agreed.

RELATED: Blue wine may become your new summer drink

“Alcohol is a strong sedative with a short duration of action," he explained. "It puts you to sleep, but then when it is leaving your system it becomes a stimulant and disturbs sleep in the middle of the night.”

A better way to wind down? Opt for sparkling water in a wine glass.

2. Heavy, late-night dinners

If you’re saving up all day for a big, filling dinner, you may have a hard time sleeping soundly. This is because your energy shifts to digestion after eating, and especially after eating a larger meal.

Closed Captioning
apply | reset x
font
size
T
T
T
T
color

How to plan a dinner party menu that won't stress you out

Play Video - 1:06

How to plan a dinner party menu that won't stress you out

Play Video - 1:06

“Eating too much food, no matter what it is, close to bed time makes it hard to sleep since our body is working overtime to digest the big meal, instead of focusing on relaxing into sleep," said Blatner.

Instead, eat small meals throughout the day, and make sure to eat a light dinner at least two hours before bedtime.

RELATED: 6 healthy foods to add to your diet this fall

3. Protein powders

Make sure that you read the label of your favorite protein powder. “Having a protein drink before bed may make it hard to sleep since some protein powders/drinks have added vitamins and minerals," Blatner said. "Especially B vitamins, which can energize you and make it hard to get to sleep.”

Instead of using protein powder as your source of nightly protein, swap it out for nut butter in your smoothie, or just cook piece of lean meat or fish with vegetables for a low-calorie dinner option.

4. Coffee and caffeine after 12 p.m.

Drinking too much caffeine, too late in the day, can really impair sleep. In fact, according to Attarian, “Caffeine has a very long duration of action and its stimulating effects can last about 12 hours.”

Make sure that you cut out caffeine at least 12 hours before your bedtime, or opt for green tea, which has a little less caffeine than coffee.

RELATED: Don't ditch those coffee grounds! Use them around your home and garden

5. Chocolate and certain teas

As mentioned above, caffeine disturbs sleep, whether you think it affects you or not. However, caffeine is not just found in coffee! Having a chocolate dessert after dinner? You might want to rethink that choice!

“What’s not obvious is that caffeine is in things you may not realize like chocolate, flavored dessert teas (black/white/green based) and even decaf coffee has some," Blatner said. Instead, opt for a caffeine-free tea, like chamomile, or have a small handful of sweetened granola.

6. Water

If you find yourself parched in the evening, and then drink a lot of water before bed, you probably make a few bathroom trips in the middle of the night, which has a negative impact on your sleep.

Instead of waiting until you physically feel dehydrated (and then drinking too much water at night), put alarms on your phone to remind you to drink water throughout the day. Try to meet your recommended daily amount of water before dinner to ensure you won’t be disrupting sound sleep with frequent bathroom trips.

RELATED: Should you drink warm or cold water when you wake up? Experts weigh in

Give yourself some time to implement these changes. You can even keep a sleep journal or a sleep log to track what you’re eating before bed, and how well-rested you feel the next day. Then you’ll have evidence to analyze and determine what’s working and what’s not!

Stephanie Mansour is a weight-loss and lifestyle coach for women. Join her weight-loss challenge here!

TOP