Foods to eat to facilitate a better night’s sleep

Friday, Dec. 8, 2017 4:43 PM

Do you have “healthy” sleep patterns?

With Thanksgiving having kicked off the holidays and Christmas on the way, it’s this time of year that we may find ourselves cutting sleep (even more than usual) to keep up with the hustle and bustle of the season.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one-third of all Americans are not getting the seven to nine hours of sleep per night that is recommended to promote optimal health and well-being. It’s no surprise that you may not feel well if you are not sleeping well. Sleep deprivation is known to have an impact on brain fog, stress hormone production, overall body inflammation, and, of course, your appetite.

After last week’s Thanksgiving meal, did you find yourself taking a nap because of the sleep-enhancing effects of foods such as turkey. Although no studies have linked turkey to quality of sleep, it is known to increase production of the sleep-enhancing hormone melatonin.

The good news is that there are several other foods and habits that can help you get a better night’s sleep on a more regular basis.

First, foods that are a great source of protein are known to enhance insulin response, which translates into less waking up at night.

Next in your arsenal are good sources of melatonin.

Almonds, which are also known to reduce inflammation and stress hormone production, will improve the quality of your sleep.

Like almonds, walnuts are also great at producing melatonin and are high in healthy fats, which may increase production of serotonin, a sleep-enhancing brain chemical.

Lastly, tart cherry juice is also high in melatonin and has been shown to improve sleep quality for many who suffer from insomnia. It’s suggested to drink 4 ounces at bedtime and increase to 8 ounces as needed.

One final tip is to remember the importance of cutting off your evening eating about three hours before bed. A full stomach can interrupt a restful night’s sleep as your body is hard at work digesting your food instead of resting and repairing.

For many, hormone imbalance is the root cause of a poor night’s sleep.

If you are having difficulties sleeping or waking up repeatedly at night, discuss these symptoms with a qualified health care practitioner to ensure your hormones from insulin, cortisol and melatonin are all working in balance to ensure you get a quality seven or more hours per night.

Fran Sutherlin is a local registered dietitian, health coach, speaker and owner of Sustainable Nutrition in Bayfield. She can be reached at 444-2122 or