Nutrition and Sleep
Back-to-school season is a busy time! You may find yourself struggling to squeeze in enough shut-eye between exams and extracurricular activities. No matter how busy your schedule is, though, a good night’s rest should always rank high on your to-do list. According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens ages 14-17 should be getting eight to ten hours of sleep a night. That’s because adequate sleep is not only important for academic achievement, but it’s also crucial for your health. In fact, chronic sleep deficiency is linked to increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Try these tips to help your Z’s come a little easier!
Choose Snooze Foods: Some foods can maximize your sleep. For example, dairy foods are a source of two nutrients linked to good rest— calcium and tryptophan. Research shows that a deficiency of calcium in the diet is linked to sleep disturbances. Tryptophan (most famous for that snooze-inducing Thanksgiving dinner) raises serotonin and melatonin levels in the body, both of which relax the brain and the body to help promote sleep. Oats are also a natural source of melatonin, so consider snacking on Berry Coconut Overnight Oats made with milk to help you sleep better.
Sip Smarter: Caffeinated beverages, like energy drinks and coffee, seem like obvious choices to avoid right before bed. But did you know that their effects can last up to eight hours? That means that as early as eight hours before bed, caffeinated beverages should be limited.
Unplug: It’s hard to detach from our digital devices, but research shows that screen time before bed interferes with sleep. Try setting a “shutdown time” an hour or so before bed when you unplug devices to give your brain a chance to slow down before hitting the pillow.
Move More: Exercise can promote good sleep, but it depends on when you do it. Working out first thing in the morning or during the day is associated with better sleep, but evening exercise can actually make it harder to fall asleep. The National Sleep Foundation recommends exercising no less than three hours before bedtime, if possible. If you’re hitting the gym or going for a run, try to start as soon as you get out of school on weekdays and even earlier in the day on weekends.
Berry Coconut Overnight Oats
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes
Enjoy this thick and creamy protein-packed overnight oats bowl for breakfast or a quick on-the-go snack anytime.
◆ 1/2 cup lactose-free milk ◆ 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats ◆ 1/2 cup raspberries ◆ 1/3 cup coconut Greek yogurt ◆ 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut ◆ 1 tablespoon chia seeds ◆ 1 teaspoon maple syrup ◆ 1/2 cup strawberries, chopped
1. Combine milk and next 6 ingredients in a medium-size bowl and stir well.
2. Pour half of the mixture into a container with a lid, add chopped strawberries, and top with remaining oat mixture. If desired, top with a few raspberries, chopped strawberries, and coconut. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 6 hours.
Laura Marbury is a registered dietitian and serves as Food and Nutrition Outreach Manager for the The Dairy Alliance. In this role she is responsible for implementing nutrition programs for health professionals, educators and consumers, including conducting television, radio and print interviews on nutrition throughout the Southeast. Visit thedairyalliance.com or follow @theDairyRD for delicious one-dish recipes and nutrition tips.