NEW YORK (CBS 2) – Whether it’s a restful night’s sleep or being on top of your game during the day, what you eat can affect how well you feel – and perform.
CBS 2’s Chris Wragge got the scoop on the menu for feeling your best, with foods that can calm you down or rev you up.
Can a snack before bed help you get a better night’s sleep? What about foods to keep you more alert during the day?
“It’s really important to choose the right foods that will induce sleep, and foods – if you want to be awake – will help for being more alert,” nutrition expert Latham Thomas said.
Caffeine is a popular choice for a stay-awake jolt, but a healthier and more mild alternative is green tea.
“When we’re thinking of a pick-me-up, we sometimes think, ‘let me get something sugary, let’s get a quick hit of something,’” nutrition specialist Lauren Slayton said. “But you actually want to think protein when it comes to staying alert.”
A healthy, high-protein choice without sugar, like nutrient-rich nuts, is a good choice. You can also try a whole wheat wrap with peanut butter and banana for a high-protein, low-calorie, high-fiber snack.
“If we were eating a lot more green, leafy vegetables, whole grains that sort of burn very slowly through your system, you’ll have sustained energy throughout the day,” Thomas said.
At night, keeping some carbohydrates on your dinner plate can help slow things down.
“You should have carbs, good carbs, before bed, because they increase the production of serotonin which relaxes you,” Slayton said.
Foods rich in serotonin and tryptophan have amino acids that help calm the brain and body.
Oatmeal, and even bananas, can make a good bedtime snack.
“Warm milk seems to have a relaxing effect,” Thomas said. “It’s not really scientifically proven.”
Cherries are another good snooze food. They contain a small amount of melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep.
“Chamomile tea definitely has been shown scientifically to be relaxing in animals,” Thomas said.
There are also a variety of sleep drinks on the market, some that contain melatonin, but not all of them are sleep-inducing.
“This is carbonated water, which I do not recommend because it causes reflux,” Thomas said.
It’s also recommended that you avoid midnight snacks.
“In general, you should avoid eating anything three hours before you go to sleep,” Thomas said. “You want to keep the volume of anything in your stomach relatively small.”
Healthy foods will also generally help you keep up a healthy energy level. For a good night’s sleep, avoid alcohol and caffeine, and develop a nighttime regimen of good sleep habits.