When you think of improving your sleep, what comes to mind? If it’s sleep schedules, comfortable mattresses, and other sleep hygiene tips – you’re not alone. While these factors all play a vital role in supporting sleep, what you do during the day also determines the quality of your sleep. Diet and nutrition are some of the most important factors in our sleep quality, offering ways for us to improve our regenerative rest with dietary changes. 

Just as alcohol can impair our quality of sleep, making poor eating choices can also negatively impact sleep. Below, learn more about the effects of dietary choices on sleep and how you can hack your nutrition to directly improve your sleep. Eating a healthy, balanced diet can help you feel better not only when you’re awake and help encourage more restful sleep.

Consuming a Well-Balanced Diet

“A well-balanced diet” is a blanket phrase that often leaves people confused when it comes to planning meals. What exactly is included in a well-balanced diet? The answer is a diet that includes all three important macronutrients: fat, protein, and carbohydrates. Unlike fat diets which may focus on eliminating one of these essential macronutrients, a whole-food diet focuses on consuming all of these in balanced quantities.

Not only should you strive to consume each of these important macronutrients, but the quality of food consumed matters a great deal too. A well-balanced diet avoids ultra-processed foods and focuses on consuming foods close to nature. Fat and carbohydrates are important to proper brain function, helping to support healthy sleep patterns, brain function, energy, and more (when consumed in appropriate amounts). Consuming plenty of protein is also important, as this macronutrient is important for recovery (especially muscle recovery when resting).

The appropriate amount of each macronutrient to consume will vary from person to person. Based on your gender, activity level, weight, and health goals, you’ll want to develop a personalized plan to help you decipher how much of each macronutrient to aim for. This can be done using health & fitness apps or with the help of a nutritionist or health coach.

Micronutrients Matter Too

Your body’s levels of micronutrients also have effects on your sleep. Micronutrients refer to the vitamins & minerals your body needs to maintain a regular sleep cycle, such as Magnesium, Zinc, and Vitamin D. For some people, it is not always possible to tell when your body does not have enough of these micronutrients. Testing your micronutrients regularly (through at-home nutrition tests or via a health professional) can help you keep a close eye on which vitamins & minerals your body may need more of. In turn, you can add supplementation and change the variety of foods consumed to enhance the quality of your sleep. 

In addition to micronutrient testing, genetic testing may also help provide additional data to help you learn which diet is best for your genetic makeup. Differences in genes may explain why certain people function optimally on specific diets, suggesting that there is not one “best diet”.

Tracking Foods & Their Impact on Your Sleep

Once you have a general idea of the appropriate amount of each macronutrient to consume, food tracking can help you hone in on how your body responds. While many people choose to estimate their food consumption, tracking helps raise awareness and identify any potential miscalculations that may impair quality sleep. Keeping a food diary is an easy biohacking technique to help you become more mindful about your food consumption and aware of your sleep habits. As you notice changes, it may indicate that slight modifications are needed in your food consumption to improve sleep.

Using Professional Support to Biohack Sleep

While biohacking your sleep and nutrition can certainly be done with your own techniques and research, don’t be afraid to call in professional support too. Nutrition experts can help you further your biohacking efforts to improve your sleep.

For those who struggle with behavioral issues associated with nutrition, seeking help from a specialist can be a great way to get to the bottom of nutrition issues that may impact your quality of sleep.