Sleep Better By Eating More Protein

Sleep Better By Eating More Protein

Sleep better by eating more protein during the day and low-sugar carbs before bed. Research shows that sleep, wakefulness, and energy levels are regulated by a chemical pathway in the brain, and we can control those pathways with what we eat.

At the most basic level, eating carbohydrates activates the orexin pathway, which makes us feel sleepy. Scientists have even developed a sleep drug that directly targets the orexin pathway and is being prescribed as a sleep aid.

When we eat protein, the amino acids will block the orexin pathway, making us alert. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that eating a high-protein diet will cause trouble sleeping. Rather, a recent study of how different diets affect sleep showed that high-protein diets allowed people to sleep better and wake up fewer times during the night than high-carb diets. Higher carbohydrate diets allowed them to go to sleep much faster after turning off the light, but they were more wakeful during their sleep.

Researchers suggest that eating a high-protein diet is ideal for achieving overall better sleep, but eating low-glycemic carbohydrates in the evening can help you go to sleep quickly. Higher sugar carbs, or those that are very quickly digested, may lead to a large increase in blood sugar, which is thought to have a negative impact on sleep quality. Avoid eating sweets and simple carbs—cookies, pastries, cake, ice cream, pie, bread—before bedtime.

A related method of improving sleep is to take the supplement inositol before bed. Inositol is a form of sugar that is found in citrus fruits and nuts, among other things. It contains negligible calories but appears to activate the orexin pathway to calm your brain and help you go to sleep. Inositol works in a similar way as the sleep medications used to target the orexin pathway.

Research suggests that inositol can reduce stress and help you sleep. You can get it in powder form and take it in water about 45 minutes before you want to go to bed to help you sleep. Start with a dose of 2 grams of inositol and increase to as much as 10 grams.

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