Health & FitnessScience

Food tips for better sleep

French researchers have observed a link between eating habits and sleep hygiene in a recent study. 

The National Institute of Sleep and Vigilance (INSV) share 5 suggestions on how to eat to improve the chances of getting a good night's rest.

Don't skip meals. Lacking energy results in interrupted sleep. Photo: Filepic

Never skip dinner

"If the body has not consumed enough energy, sleep will be fragmented. One must eat enough to make it through until morning," explains INSV president Damien Léger. The evening meal should be hearty yet balanced and easy to digest.


Eat complex carbs, like brown rice, for sweet dreams. Photo: Filepic

Eat meat for lunch, and complex carbs for dinner 

Foods that are rich in protein, such as meat, tend to heighten vigilance, so those who have trouble falling asleep may wish to avoid them later in the day. For dinner, focus instead on complex carbohydrates – such as potatoes, whole wheat pasta or brown rice – and dairy products, both of which are known to promote sleep. It is also important to have dinner two to three hours before turning in for the night.

Make herbal tea a bedtime ritual 

Certain plants are known for their calming effects, and teas brewed from linden, chamomile, passion flower, hops and valerian are among those that can help ease the body into sleep. An evening cup of herbal tea is particularly effective when part of a relaxing routine performed each night in a calm, sleep-friendly environment.

Go easy on the coffee at teatime. Better yet, drink herbal tea. 

Limit caffeine to the afternoon

Most insomniacs know to avoid coffee and caffeinated soft drinks in the afternoon, but it is important to remember that cocoa and tea are also to be consumed in moderation. Caffeine takes several hours to be eliminated from the body with half of the amount consumed still present in the blood stream four to five hours after the last sip. For this reason, it is recommended to avoid these substances after 3pm.

Avoid the temptation of a nightcap 

"Alcohol impacts sleep in two phases, facilitating it before interfering with it later on," says Joëlle Adrien of the INSV. While it may help lull an individual to sleep shortly after consumption, it can cause problems a few hours later, leading to lighter sleep and more frequent waking through the night, or even nightmares and sleep apnea.

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