Sleep is a beautiful thing. When we are rested, we perform better – in life and at the gym! However, with busy lives, most of us are not afforded 8 to 10 blissful hours of slumber each night. So, shouldn’t we make the most of the sleep we do get?

I happened upon an article about foods that may be negatively impacting sleep quality. Apparently, what we put in our faces in the hours leading up to bed affect our shut-eye potential. Intrigued (and always looking for a way to wake up feeling awesome), I did some additional research on the topic.

Some things to avoid before hitting the sack make sense:

  • Sugar – causes blood sugar levels to spike and fall rapidly, which may lead to waking up during the night.
  • Alcohol – disrupts REM (dream-stage) sleep, resulting in decreased feeling of restfulness and lowered concentration, memory, and motor skills (all of these are no good in the gym!).
  • Caffeine (including chocolate (especially dark chocolate!), coffee, caffeinated tea, etc.) – no-brainer here!
  • Heavy, high-fat foods – take longer to digest (an unnecessary energy tax on the body when trying to rest and repair) and can cause discomfort that makes sleep difficult.
  • Spicy foods – can lead to heartburn and wakefulness as a result.

But, to my surprise, otherwise healthy foods may be culprits of truly restful sleep. Check these out:

  • Celery, cucumbers, watermelon, radishes, and the like – with a high water content, these foods act as natural diuretics, which may require a trip to the bathroom during the night.
  • Tomatoes, eggplant, soy sauce, bananas, avocado, beans, liver, MSG, aged cheeses (e.g., brie) and fermented dairy and soy products  – these foods contain tyramine (an amino acid), which stimulates release of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine in the brain. The result: increased brain activity and sleep delay.
  • Broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower – these seemingly benign veggies are packed with slow-to-digest fiber, which keeps your body on overdrive during the night.
  • Steak (yes, I consider steak a healthy food!) – high in protein and marbled fats, steak (and its kin) digests slowly, leading to unneeded energy depletion during sleep.

Scientific truth or malarkey, I cannot say. But, it’s food for thought…and possibly better sleep! Maybe try limiting these foods to daytime hours and see if you notice any changes. What have you got to lose…besides, perhaps, some tossing and turning and a few seconds off your WOD time?