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November 28, 2023

The common bedtime habit that could be stopping you from getting a good night’s sleep

Filed under: Fitness — Tags: — admin @ 1:11 am

If you’re lying awake at 3am, or feeling groggy in the morning even after your first cup of coffee, you’re probably asking yourself what it is you’re doing wrong.

We’re constantly told about the importance of getting good-quality sleep every night, but sometimes – no matter how many sleepy teas you drink and nighttime rituals you set – it just doesn’t work.

But did you know the food we eat can have a huge impact on how well we sleep?

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Depressed senior woman lying in bed cannot sleep from insomnia

Recent research from food-tracking app MyFitnessPal found while eight in 10 Aussies say they struggle to fall asleep, only 39 per cent are actively choosing foods that impact how they get shut-eye.

Sleep nutrition expert and MyFitnessPal ambassador Olivia Arezzolo told 9Honey Coach about how we can make dietary choices that may help improve the quality of our sleep.

The best foods for a better night’s sleep are those that have high protein and those that are rich in magnesium and healthy fats,” Arrezzolo says.

“Fatty fish, for example, is an absolute sleep superfood,” she explains.

Fish like salmon or tuna contain about 260 per cent of our daily tryptophan needs, an amino acid that can increase sleepiness, and help reduce the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep.

“As a topline, the best foods for sleep are fatty fish, nuts and seeds, particularly chia seeds and almonds because they’re rich in magnesium, which helps the body relax.”

And for dessert? Go for kiwifruit or some tart cherry juice – two foods that have the most naturally-occuring melatonin.

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Close up shot of an Asian Chinese woman eating pan fried salmon with table knife and fork in cafe

The absolute number one thing to avoid before bed, says Arezzolo, is caffeine.

Though that may sound like a pretty obvious answer, she says there are a lot of things that you may not realise contain caffeine.

For example: green tea. “I’ve stayed with friends and they’re like, ‘Oh, you know, I’m just gonna have a green tea to help me wind down’ and I’m like, ‘You realise that has caffeine in it?!'”

One cup of green tea has about 1/3 the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee. Some paracetamol and vitamin water also have caffeine, so Arezzolo always recommends checking the labels of things.

Arezzolo says while we can make as many conscious decisions about our sleep hygiene as we want, ultimately it’s often hard to identify where we’re going wrong.

“This is why I’m strongly supportive of the concept of tracking food as well as tracking sleep,” she explains.

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MyFitnessPal sleep tracking

MyFitnessPal has long been known as a nutrition-tracking app, but has now introduced a new sleep component as well. By logging both your meals and your sleep, and seeing them right beside each other, it’s easier to identify things that may be stopping you from getting a good night of shut-eye.

Also, it has the added bonus of helping us stay away from behaviours that we know aren’t great for us. “We don’t want to look at our tracker and see that we had an espresso and a big glass of wine before bed,” she says, saying that the act of tracking our meals can keep us on the right path.

Though they’ve long been associated with weight-loss, tracking apps like MyFitnessPal can be used for a number of health-related reasons, like muscle gain and sleep analysis.

“It’s a tool. Use it as you please,” says Arezzolo.

With the new sleep-tracking integration, the app also offers guides for users who need help getting started. The Eat Right Sleep Tight five-day plan sets out the best things to eat and do in order to improve your quality of sleep.

“It makes it really easy to action, and from all my experience in giving advice topeople, that is when you see change,” says Arezzolo.

“When it’s easy to understand and easy to action.”

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