Carbohydrates are funny creatures. When you eat them whole, they provide energy, fibre, and a plethora of vitamins and minerals. However, if you eat them after they’ve been processed all you get is a quick jolt of energy and a rapid spike in blood sugar. The type of carbs you eat and when you eat them can have a huge effect on your sleep. Carbohydrates contain the neurotransmitter tryptophan, which causes a person to feel sleepy. The right quality of carbohydrates, in the proper quantity, at the optimal time can lull your body into a deep and restful sleep.
The quality of the carbohydrates you are consuming daily is very important for restful sleep. Always choose carbohydrates in their least-processed form. For example, choose bread that has whole grains you can actually see, rather than white bread that has no whole grains at all. Choosing the best possible carbs will ensure that your body does not have to work hard to digest and metabolize them and it will not keep you up with a rumbling belly or yo-yoing blood sugar.
The quantity of carbohydrates is also very important. At every meal, the ideal plate will contain one-quarter to one-third carbohydrates. This could be your pasta, potatoes, bread, or other starchy foods. Eating a well-balanced portion of carbohydrates will be much better for your sleep than eating a huge bowl of noodles. A big serving of carbs will sit heavily in your stomach and cause uncomfortable bloating and gas, not an easy thing to fall asleep with.
A study done in 2007 took a look at carbohydrates and sleep . The study concluded that test subjects that ate a carbohydrate-rich meal 4 hours before sleep fell asleep the fastest. The study had no conclusive reason why, but speculation is that 4 hours is just enough time for the tryptophan in the carbohydrates to reach the brain and induce an easy, peaceful sleep.
If you’re looking for a good night’s rest, make sure to include whole, unprocessed carbs with your evening meal. If you pick the best quality available, eat a proper portion of one-quarter to one-third of your plate, approximately four hours before you plan to sleep, you will be well on your way to a peaceful slumber.