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5 Ways to Hack Your Diet for Better Sleep

Most people have horrible sleep fitness, so to speak. They waste time falling asleep, then they spend hours tossing and turning in a light sleep state that doesn't have the same body and brain-boosting benefits of deep and REM sleep.
12/31/2014 09:23am ET | Updated March 2, 2015
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Most people have horrible sleep fitness, so to speak. They waste time falling asleep, then they spend hours tossing and turning in a light sleep state that doesn't have the same body and brain-boosting benefits of deep and REM sleep.

So how do you improve the quality of your sleep? The trick is to upgrade your food by following the anti-inflammatory eating guidelines of the Bulletproof Diet, then track your own sleep quality over time to learn which sleep hacks are most effective for you one at a time.

These are the most effective diet hacks designed to get you into a deeper sleep faster.

1. Fill up with fat at dinner
Healthy fats are a critical, long-burning fuel for your mind and body. Grass-fed butter, animal fat, and coconut oil are all good choices, but extra concentrated MCT oil is my personal favorite.

The shortest-length fats of MCT oil are converted into ketones that are immediately used as fuel for your brain, and MCT oil also helps you burn body fat while you sleep. I've noticed that I think faster and more clearly the next morning if I have 1-2 tablespoons of MCT oil the night before with dinner or even right before bed. [1]

2. Fuel with low-mercury krill or fish oil
DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, has a lot of benefits such as protecting against the negative effects of fructose on brain function, improving mood and reducing anxiety and depression, improving insulin sensitivity, and increasing muscle growth. [2][3][4]

Studies have shown that fish oil, which contains DHA, aids in the secretion of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of wellness, and lowers stress hormones that can interfere with sleep. [5]

I recommend consuming 1 gram of fish or krill oil either with dinner or at bedtime.

3. Prime your body with protein
Our bodies use protein for muscle repair and immune function. The muscle repair happens at night during deep sleep, so you want to make sure your body has all the raw materials it needs at night to heal and grow new tissue. [6]

The problem is that most forms of protein are not well-digested before bed. A lot of protein powders and even most sources of animal protein take a lot of work to digest and can leave you with a heavy feeling during the night.

Too much protein also raises an alertness chemical in the brain called orexin, which can disrupt your sleep. [7] The solution I recommend is taking 1-2 tablespoons of hydrolyzed grass-fed collagen peptide before bed. Hydrolyzing the proteins makes them more digestible so they don't cause the problems listed above. [8]

4. Try raw honey before bed
This is a powerful sleep hack that you should try on its own, not in combination with the protein supplements listed above. Your brain uses a lot of energy while you're sleeping. One efficient form of brain energy comes from the sugar that is stored in your liver called liver glycogen.

Your brain taps your liver glycogen before hitting the stored sugar in your muscles (muscle glycogen), so having a little extra sugar before bed can help your brain function better at night. [9] Taking a small amount of honey by itself before bed will raise blood glucose while you sleep, putting you in a deeper sleep faster.

5. Don't drink coffee past the afternoon
Coffee puts your mind in an amazing place where you become more productive and perform better. However, you need to let your mind rest after its high output performances.

In general, for the best sleep, don't drink coffee after 2 p.m. or at least eight hours before bedtime, whichever comes first. [10]

Beyond Food: Lower Your Stress For Better Sleep
One of the most common reason people report not being able to sleep is that they don't know how to clear their minds and stop worrying. Deep breathing exercises like pranayama yoga and meditation can do wonders for helping your brain quiet down, recuperate, and prepare for another day of Bulletproof high performance. [11]

For a quick calming breath practice before bed, try "box breathing" each night: Inhale for five seconds, hold your breath in for five seconds, exhale for five seconds, then hold you breath out for five seconds. Repeat for five minutes.

Quality sleep is one of the most important variables to improve your brain function, longevity, and performance in all aspects of life. By paying attention to how your body responds to each of these guidelines laid out by The Bulletproof Diet, you'll learn which of these work the best for your system so you can enjoy the benefits of higher quality sleep.

Learn more at the Bulletproof blog.

References:

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