I dare you to do a quick search on Google or Instagram: “foods that help you sleep.” The advice? All over the board and often inaccurate, which begs the question: What does the science actually say? Are there certain foods that can disrupt sleep? Are there ones that actually enhance it, according to research?
Let’s start with the assumption that you’ve already surveyed and optimized your environment (electronics, lighting, sleep schedule, stress, potential illness), because we know these things can impact sleep just as much as food. And keep in mind that no one food can overcome stress or illness, which may be underlying causes of sleep issues.
Whether you’re creating holistic sleep programming for your guests or simply offering some nutritional guidance, here’s what you need to know about the links between food and sleep.
Foods That May Keep You Awake
There’s actually much more research on foods that negatively impact sleep than on foods that can put us into that sought-after, baby-like slumber. So, before trying to cure sleepless nights by recommending one specific food, perhaps begin the journey by taking inventory of current eating patterns.
Caffeine: 80% of Americans drink this stimulant daily. For those who do, they should consider sipping on their last caffeinated beverage at least four to six hours before bedtime.
Alcohol: This tends to surprise people, as many report that a nice glass of wine helps put them to sleep. While alcohol is a sedative, research shows that it disrupts overall sleep patterns, especially in the second half of the night. The more you drink, the more significant the effects. Studies show that one to two glasses usually have minimal effects.
Leigh-Anne Wooten, MS, RDN/LDN, FAND, is the founder and chief nutrition officer of Behind the Label, LLC (www.behindthelabel.biz). She has a master’s degree in nutrition science and is a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Wooten is now an executive advisor and consultant who supports overall concept design, recipe and menu development for spas and other companies. She’s also a mom of two toddler sous chefs.