If we spend a third of our lives in bed, how much do we spend eating? According to the Huffington Post, an average person will spend four and a half years eating during their lifetime. Eating is the fourth most time-consuming activity of our lives, and that doesn’t count the time planning food, regretting that last Carl’s Jr. Beyond Burger, dreading that next wheatgrass shot… you know. The relationship between our eating habits and sleeping habits are interconnected -- one directly affects the other. The more we sleep, the more energy we have to make good decisions for our bodies and less in survival mode, craving sugary snacks for energy. On the other hand, the better we eat, the better quality of sleep we have.
Here at RECLINER, we are going on a deep dive to hack sleep and talk with as many health experts as we can to crack the code for optimal sleep. Elissa Goodman is a holistic nutritionist with an emphasis on lifestyle cleansing. She is also the author of Cancer Hacks, an International Best-Selling book about her journey. Her new book to be released is called Autoimmune Hacks. Elissa has used her journey and knowledge to develop healing cleanses for well-known wellness venues including Café Gratitude, M Café and Erewhon, and her “SOUP Cleanse” is delivered to over 100 people in LA monthly (not to mention her new 7-Day RESET cleanse). Amidst her busy schedule, she sees private clients with a full spectrum of health issues, inspiring people to love and take care of themselves through improving their health.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your practice.
I was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 32 and chose not to go the traditional route, by forgoing chemo and doing only small amounts of radiation. Many of the doctors thought I was crazy, but I had a very strong gut instinct that the way I had been leading my life was at the root of the illness. I was addicted to sugar and carbs and had a high-stress job - it was all wreaking havoc on my health. I started juicing, eating vegan, doing yoga, meditating and doing some deep therapy.
Then, 11 years later, my husband was diagnosed with cancer and battled it for a year and half before he passed away. He was only 45 years old and we had two young girls. We were all traumatized and it was then that I decided I needed to make a change. I went back to school to study integrative eastern and western nutrition for two years.
What is one thing key we should keep in mind when we wake up to start our bodies off for the day?
Drink water as the first thing you consume in the morning to replenish your cells. They have become dehydrated throughout the night and need to be revitalized. The worst thing we can do is start our day with coffee, without having had a glass of water beforehand. I drink 16oz of water with lemon to detoxify my system as soon as I wake up every morning.
What should keep in mind at night before bed?
It is best not to eat right before sleep. You want to give your body time to reset and it is hard to do that if it is digesting food throughout the night. I recommend finishing all food no later than 8pm and then waiting 16 hours until your next meal.
If you are someone who wakes up a lot in the middle of the night, I urge you not to drink water a number of hours before bed. Often times, people do not realize that part of the reason why their brain is waking them up is because they consumed water before they fell asleep. Try not to drink water at least two hours before bed, and only have a tiny sip if you need it.
Are there foods we should be avoiding, that disrupt sleep?
Most people already know that caffeine is a big factor that can dictate restless sleep. But many people do not realize that even having a small amount of caffeine many hours before bed can still impact sleep. If you are going to have coffee or caffeinated tea, I recommend sticking to one cup before noon.
Sugar is another culprit of sleep disruption, so it is best to avoid sweets, simple carbohydrates and high glycemic fruits at night (and I recommend avoiding sugar and simple carbs always!). Alcohol can also lead to low quality sleep. While alcohol can occasionally make it easier to fall asleep, it limits our rapid eye movement (REM, or high quality) sleep and leads to a more restless night’s sleep overall.
Are there foods / nutrients we should be eating for optimal sleep?
Having high-quality plant protein and complex carbs as small evening snacks can keep you full throughout the night and also boost melatonin, which can help you fall asleep faster. A couple of my favorite melatonin-promoting snacks are half a banana with almond butter on sprouted gluten-free bread and hummus with celery or cucumber. Both of those food combinations are ideal for people who are vegan and gluten-free as well.
It is also important to take magnesium for optimal sleep, though I do recommend consulting with your doctor before starting any new supplements.