An estimated 50-70 million adults in the U.S. have some type of sleep or wakefulness disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). With a multitude of adverse health effects, insufficient shut-eye is an important public health concern.
If you’re tired of counting sheep and staring at the ceiling when trying to turn in for the night, a solution may be as simple as an after-dinner snack.
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They are important because they help make melatonin and serotonin, both of which are hormones that regulate various functions such as sleep, appetite and mood. “Before bed snacks should be high in minerals and low on sugar,” he adds. That means no pasta or bread either.
Leafy greens are an ideal option for a salad at dinner, but be careful not to overcook them. Dr. Gioffre recommends “splash sautee,” where the veggies are steamed for no more than four minutes. “This way all enzymes and nutrients are not lost and they don’t lose their effect on producing melatonin.”
There should be a three-hour window between eating and sleeping, Dr. Gioffre says. And keep the snacks light. Research shows that people with the healthiest sleep patterns have the best and most diverse diets.
“About 80 percent of your dinner should be veggies and healthy fats, which slow down the metabolism of sugar; 10-15 percent should be protein; and about 5 percent carbs from vegetables such as sweet potatoes,” Dr. Gioffre says.