Whether it’s because of hormones, a busy brain, or a snoring partner, many women over 50 find it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. What should we be eating before bed to help us drift off to Dreamland and stay there? Join us in conversation with registered dietitian Ashley Koff who has some great ideas for us to try. Enjoy the show!
We all know that yoga and breathing exercises are great insomnia combatants that help our bodies and brains relax so that we can achieve the amount and level of sleep we need. From a nutrition stand point, dietician Ashely Koff says there are four main power foods that will help us turn off our internal stimuli and take control of our sleep.
We’ve all heard that a warm glass of milk before bed helps to calm sleepy bodies, but this is only a myth. In fact, milk is a muscle contractor that induces stress and should never be consumed at bedtime. Instead, Ashley suggests that an increase in our magnesium intake throughout the entire day will be a much bigger benefit.
Magnesium is actually the nutrient that has the greatest impact on the quality of our sleep. As a stress reducer, magnesium turns off that “fight or flight” response that often surges as we try to relax and rest.
While Ashley enjoys a magnesium powder in her tea before bed, she also suggests that we could take advantage of the richness of dark chocolate in the late afternoon which is an excellent source of magnesium. It’s important to eat magnesium rich foods throughout the day and not only at bedtime if you wish to reap the maximum benefits from this super nutrient.
Another important nutrient for women over 50 is gamma-linoleic omega-6 fatty acid. Called GLA for short, this nutrient is really important for women approaching perimenopause and menopause as it helps stabilize our imbalanced hormones, relaxing our body and helping us to sleep.
This “glamor fatty acid” as Ashley calls it also helps our skin, nails, and hair look healthy and strong. It also helps relieve the intimate dryness that is also common for women going through menopause, as well.
GLA can be taken in many forms such as an evening primrose oil, a borage oil, or even in pill form. However, there are food options that are rich in GLA such a wild salmon and hempseeds or hempseed oil.
Often, our bodies struggle to relax and sleep because of a hormone imbalance but many times the struggle is really with low-grade chronic inflammation, making our bodies feel irritated and overwhelmed. GLA promotes a healthy inflammatory response, so taking in this nutrient is a wise step to overall better health.
No matter how appealing a warm slice of bread or a plate of pasta sounds late in the evening, these carbohydrate rich foods may be interfering with your sleep. Many women try to eat healthier by eating a salad at lunch, only indulging in a few carbs at dinner time but this actually counter-productive.
Our bodies need a few carbs throughout the day to give us energy. Skipping daytime carbs only leaves us feeling tired and famished. Ashely suggests eating carbs such as melon and pasta earlier in the day and limiting carbs before bed to promote weight loss, a decrease in belly fat, and better sleeping.
Fats, especially plant fats, are essential minerals that help our bodies sleep. Olives, avocados, nuts, seeds, and hemp are all great sources of healthy plant fats that our bodies need.
Ashley says while some people will take hemp oil by itself, she enjoys drizzling it on a potato or using it to make hempseed pesto. What’s important is finding a way to incorporate these nutrients into your diet in a way that you will enjoy so that you will continue to better your health.
Have you found it difficult to get a good night’s sleep? Have you contributed sleepless nights to nutrients or other forms of stimuli? Which of these 4 power foods do you want to start incorporating into your diet? Please join the conversation below.