How food affects sleep

Wie die Ernährung das Einschlafen beeinflusst

Hard to believe, but true: every eighth German suffers from problems falling asleep. In addition to numerous factors such as sleeping habits or sporting activity, nutrition also has a great influence on our sleep behaviour and can improve sleep and also specifically falling asleep through the intake of certain nutrients. We show you which foods have a positive effect on falling asleep and thus support our sleep in a natural way.

Table of contents

      1. Problems falling asleep
      2. Sleep & eating habits
      3. Foods that promote sleep
      4. Foods that disturb sleep
      5. Conclusion

      Problems falling asleep

      One in eight of us has problems falling asleep - this is the result of a study by the Techniker Krankenkasse. Worries, stress or health problems are often responsible for the fact that we can't find our way to sleep despite being tired, or that we wake up again and again under certain circumstances.

      Numerous home remedies, such as hot milk with honey, are known to promote falling asleep in a natural way. And rightly so, because our diet has a huge impact on sleep. Find out how your eating habits affect sleep and what foods you should consume before sleeping to improve falling asleep here.

      Sleep & Eating Habits

      How, what and when we eat is crucial to our sleep, because a full stomach doesn't like to sleep. The last large meal of the day should therefore take place at least three hours before bedtime and should not be too heavy. Excessive meals stimulate digestion too much and make it difficult not only to fall asleep in a relaxed manner, but also to sleep soundly through the night! Also important is an overall vitamin-rich and balanced diet, which provides the body with important nutrients and thus supports the physiological processes and recovery during sleep.

      Foods that promote sleep

      #1 Melatonin Suppliers: Grapes, red wine

      The hormone melatonin controls the day-night rhythm of our body and in this way ensures a regular sleep. Grapes have proven to be a natural means of supplying the body with missing melatonin in case of sleep problems. An evening consumption of around 300 grams of grapes can already have a positive effect on nightly sleep - just like a glass of red wine. But be careful: alcohol is not a solution for sleep disorders, but can make them even worse. On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with a relaxing glass of red wine (up to 200ml) in the evening.

      #2 Tryptophan sources: Bananas, almonds

      Bananas and almonds contain the amino acid tryptophan, which stimulates the body to produce the hormones melatonin and serotonin. Serotonin, also known as the happiness hormone, has a tension-relieving and mood-lifting effect and thus supports the relaxation process before sleep. Almonds and bananas are therefore healthy home remedies for insomnia, which also provide the body with many other vitamins and minerals.

      #3 Rich in magnesium: pumpkin seeds, millet, wholemeal bread/pasta

      The mineral magnesium makes the body sleep better and helps to relax the muscles - an important prerequisite for deep sleep. If you have too little magnesium in your body, you may have trouble falling asleep and experience muscle cramps at night. Healthy sources of magnesium include pumpkin seeds, millet or whole-grain bread and pasta.

      Foods that disrupt sleep

      #1 Caffeinated foods: coffee, cola, black tea.

      Caffeine stimulates the nervous system and prevents us from getting rest. Therefore, foods containing caffeine should be avoided even in the last 3-4 hours before going to bed so that falling asleep and staying asleep are not disturbed.

      #2 Alcohol in large quantities

      Alcohol consumption in the evening makes many people tired. A glass of beer or red wine in the evening is perfectly acceptable. In large quantities, however, alcohol has a negative effect on sleep due to the breakdown products produced during digestion and can lead to problems falling asleep and staying asleep.

      #3 Highly acidic, fatty and sugary foods

      Highly acidic foods, such as citrus fruits or pickles, stimulate digestion and circulation as the body needs to regulate pH levels. And the digestion of fatty and highly sugary foods also stresses the stomach and intestines and interferes with falling asleep in the evening, so heavy and highly acidic meals should be avoided before bedtime.

      ... and what about hot milk with honey?

      In fact, the calcium, magnesium and protein contained in milk can help relax the muscles and nervous system before bedtime, and the amino acid tryptophan, from which the sleep hormone melatonin is formed, can also be found in dairy products. The only thing you shouldn't overdo is honey, as it quickly affects blood sugar levels - and then disrupts sleep!

      For more expert tips on how to improve your sleep, check out this blog article.

      Conclusion

      • Have a last, rather light meal at least three hours before going to bed
      • Grapes or a(!) glass of red wine provide the body with the hormone melatonin, which regulates the day-night rhythm and promotes falling asleep.
      • Bananas and almonds contain the amino acid tryptophan and support the production of melatonin and serotonin in the body, which helps us to relax and fall asleep better.
      • The mineral magnesium relaxes the muscles and allows the body to sleep better. Pumpkin seeds, millet or wholemeal products, for example, have a high magnesium content.
      • Avoid caffeine and alcohol before going to bed and avoid highly acidic foods as well as fat and sugar bombs.

      Best wishes and see you soon!