5 Ways to Double Your Sleep Quality

5 Ways to Double Your Sleep Quality

“Why do I feel so tired when I slept all night?” our friend Sarah asked us the other day.

“Maybe because you slept 5 hours,” we answered. “That’s not sleeping. That’s napping!

For Sarah, the negative effects of too little sleep go beyond dozing off during meetings, or being irritable with the kids. “Getting less than six hours of sleep a night may double the odds of dying from heart disease or stroke for people who already have risk factors for heart disease and diabetes,” according to a new report in Web MD. “Known as metabolic syndrome, this cluster of risk factors can include high blood pressure, high levels of LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol, high blood sugar, obesity, high levels of blood fats known as triglycerides and low levels of HDL (‘good’) cholesterol. Someone with at least three of these conditions has metabolic syndrome.”

To make sure you’re getting the perfect amount of rest to prevent metabolic syndrome, the team at Eat This, Not That! researched these 20 Ways to Double Your Sleep Quality. And for more ways to live your happiest and healthiest life, don’t miss our essential report: 40 Ways Double Your Weight Loss—Fast.

1 Tryp Your Sleep Switch
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Don’t count sheep, eat lamb! Or better yet, a bit of turkey. Tryptophan, an amino acid found in most meats, has demonstrated powerful sleep-inducing effects. A recent study among insomniacs found that just 1/4 gram—about what you’ll find in a skinless chicken drumstick or three ounces of lean turkey meat—was enough to increase hours of deep sleep significantly. And that can translate into easy weight loss.

Eat This! Tip
“Any tryptophan-containing food, which includes nuts, chicken, fish, lentils, and eggs, can help usher in sleepyhead syndrome,” says Julia Falamas, director of programming and operations at Epic Hybrid Training fitness studio. “If you’re the type who can’t sleep on an empty stomach, a healthy source of fat like avocado or nut butter can help stave off hunger, while providing restorative properties,” she adds.

2 Schedule Tea Time
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“There is something about the ritual of sitting down to a soothing cup of tea that tells your brain to slow down and relax,” says Falamas. “Some of the best teas for sleep are chamomile, peppermint, lavender and valerian, which actually does have some sedative properties.”

Eat This! Tip
Certain teas also have magical weight-loss properties, from dimming your hunger hormones to upping your calorie burn to—literally—melting the fat that’s stored in your fat cells. Click here to see how test panelists slept better and lost up to 10 pounds in one week on our diet plan, The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse!

3 Eat Whole Grains at Lunch
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You know to avoid big meals, coffee, colas, and alcohol before bed, but did you know that it’s best to eat your complex carbohydrates at lunchtime, not with dinner? “Serotonin converts to melatonin in your stage 3 REM sleep, and serotonin is sourced from whole-grain complex carbohydrates. So you don’t need to have carbs before bed to sleep, just have them at some point through the day,” says Cat Smiley, owner of Whistler Fitness Vacations, a weight-loss retreat for women.

Eat This! Tip
Also, to meet your daily fiber goal, “about 20 grams of insoluble fiber is important to enable you to sleep, so aim to eat that daily, and you’ll ensure you can convert enough serotonin to sleep well.” That’s about two pieces of whole grain sprouted bread (we like Ezekiel Bread)—avocado toast beckons!—or a cup of brown rice.

4 If You Eat at Night, Keep it Small
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While you shouldn’t go to bed starving (that presents its own sleepytime problems), you also shouldn’t hit the sack completely stuffed. When you eat a large meal before bed, your body is working to digest it long into the night—and if your body is still worked up, so are you. The later you fall asleep, the less rest you’ll get, and you’ll wake up feeling groggy and more likely to reach for calorie-dense items.

Eat This! Tip
Instead of eating a monster meal for dinner, try to keep portions about the same as your breakfast and lunch, especially if you eat dinner on the later side. “You want to eat your last meal at least an hour or two before going to bed,” says Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN. Looking for more sure-fire ways to flatten your belly? Check out these 44 Ways to Lose 4 Inches of Body Fat.

5 Better Yet, Set Strict Kitchen Hours
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Nighttime fasting—aka closing the kitchen early—may help you lose more weight, even if you eat more food throughout the day, according to a study in the journal Cell Metabolism. Researchers put groups of mice on a high-fat, high-calorie diet for 100 days. Half of them were allowed to nibble throughout the night and day on a healthy, controlled diet, while the others only had access to food for eight hours, but could eat whatever they wanted. The result of the 16-hour food ban? The fasting mice stayed lean, while the mice who noshed ’round the clock became obese—even though both groups consumed the same amount of calories!

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