Good Food

Friday, March 12, 2010

Is your healthy diet keeping you up?

Your healthy eating habits can affect sleep

Buzzkill of the week: Your healthy diet could be killing your ability to get to sleep and stay that way

This just in: It turns out that your (mostly) wholesome eating habits could be effing up your sleeping habits. Watching your carbs and not eating after 8 p.m. may contribute to slimness and sleeplessness, says Mary Jane Detroyer, a Registered Dietitian and Exercise Physiologist with a private practice in Midtown.

“It seems really unfair, but women with trouble sleeping might want to tweak their healthy diet for one that’s still healthy but promotes sleep,” she says. In fact, not getting sleep can affect your weight, according to the National Sleep Foundation and several studies linking insomnia to diabetes, abdominal fat, and obesity.

Mary Jane Detroyer, food for sleep

Mary Jane Detroyer

We asked Detroyer to tell us which of our healthy-eating habits might be messing with our shut-eye and for a sleep-health solution:

Your healthy habit: Cutting back on carbs.

Why it’s a sleep hazard: Carbohydrates raise tryptophan and serotonin levels in the body, two chemicals associated with the onset of sleep. “But don’t eat like a runner before a marathon,” says Detroyer. “Have a cup of bean soup, a brown rice and veggie stirfry, or if you go out, try soba-noodle ramen. This might sound crazy to carb-cutters, but even a small baked potato can help some women sleep better.”

Your healthy habit: No eating after 8 p.m.
Why it’s a sleep hazard: Many women wake up to a growling stomach at 3 a.m., says Detroyer. “Some head the fridge, and that’s a habit you don’t want to start.” But even if you don’t get up to eat, your sleep has been compromised. What’s the harm? The hunger hormones that spark appetite or indicate satiety (ghrelin and leptin respectively) are affected by lack of sleep and are linked to weight gain. “It’s better to have a small snack before bed, like a couple of graham crackers or a bit of yogurt and fruit,” Detroyer says.

Your healthy habit: A glass of antioxidant-rich red wine with dinner
Why it’s a sleep hazard: Obviously a glass of wine or two can knock you out, and some women use it as a sleep aid. But wine, like any alcohol, can also have a rebound effect, causing you to pop awake four hours later. “How about a cup of warm herbal tea like Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime or Yogi Tea Bedtime instead? In fact, a bedtime ritual, like reading a book, taking a bath, and using aromatherapy is very important for people with insomnia tendencies. It preps the body for sleep, and helps slow a racing mind,” says Detroyer. In other words, the bedside light switch isn’t attached to your mind; you have to give yourself a chance to drift into sleep. —Melisse Gelula

For more information, contact Mary Jane Detroyer, 212-759-7110, www.maryjanedetroyer.com

Do you notice that your dinner affects your ability to sleep? Tell us, here!

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