What to eat after a bad night's sleep?

“To sleep well, you need to eat properly, and to eat well, you need a good night’s sleep” explains Coralie Costi from the first minute of our call. For the nutritionist, there is no doubt: the two factors are in constant correlation. A balance whose consequences are as important on the body as mental health. Lack of sleep increases the risk of low-grade inflammation, which causes obesity and diabetes.

Also read: SOS: I eat while I sleep

Hormones on the plate

Scientifically speaking, the sleep hormone, melatonin, is made from a second hormone, serotonin, better known as the happiness hormone. Serotonin is synthesized from an amino acid, tryptophan, contained in many foods.

To ensure the production of melatonin which will allow optimal sleep, it will be necessary to consume foods rich in tryptophan. On the menu ? Brown rice, soy, bananas, chocolate, oilseeds including cashew nuts, pumpkin seeds and even dairy products, all sources of tryptophan. “Among cheeses, I believe that Parmesan contains the most, fans take note. There is also some in fish, or legumes,” says Coralie.

Once these have been placed on your plate, you must then ensure the delivery of the amino acid to the brain. “Carbohydrates are very important to allow this passage, as well as omega 3,” explains the expert. We will have it in eggs or fatty fish, particularly mackerel, which is the fish richest in omega 3. » As for carbohydrates, we opt for cereals or legumes for example. Omega 3 is also contained in many vegetable oils, such as rapeseed or flaxseed oil.

Finally, to allow the synthesis of melatonin by the body, we finish everything with a good dose of B vitamins. A rather easy task, since they are found in almost all foods, provided of course that you have a varied and balanced diet.

Quantities, temperature and times: other factors not to be neglected

Obviously, for a proper sleep, the contents of the plate are not enough and “the way we are going to eat is going to be as important as what we are going to eat” insists the professional. When we sleep, our entire body is at rest, including the digestive system. Food must therefore be consumed in appropriate quantities. “In the evening, it is very important to have a light meal, so as not to overwork the digestive system,” explains Coralie. If the meal is too rich, the effort during digestion will delay and disrupt falling asleep. » Rich, hearty meals require a lot of energy from the body to digest. A phenomenon which will also increase the body’s temperature, a harmful consequence for the quality of sleep. “If you’re too hot, you don’t sleep well. This is why we often recommend keeping your bedroom at a temperature between 18 and 20°C at bedtime. »

Meal time is also very important. “You should not eat just before going to sleep, otherwise you will digest instead of resting. You should also not eat too early because you risk, conversely, being hungry at bedtime, or causing nighttime cravings. » The nutritionist recommends allowing on average at least 2 hours between the meal and going to bed.

Waking up from a bad night

“We start the day with animal proteins, to stimulate the production of dopamine, the wake-up hormone,” advises the dietician. It will be important to stay hydrated throughout the day, but also to avoid meals that are too rich, particularly junk food, fried foods, or dishes rich in cream, so as not to tire the body further. Before going to bed, you can, for example, relax with a little passionflower or hawthorn infusion. “I often advise my patients to make an infusion before going to bed, to gradually move towards a more restorative sleep,” Coralie tells us. My little tip? Steep the plants in a small amount of water, about half a cup. The infusion will be more concentrated, and the volume of water reduced, will avoid waking up at night to go to the toilet. »

Thanks to Coralie Costi, dietitian nutritionist


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