What to eat, and what not to eat, for a good night's sleep

How well you sleep can have a significant impact on your overall health, and not getting enough sleep has even been linked to overeating, according to ABC News’ senior medical contributor, Dr. Jennifer Ashton.

Ashton appeared live on “Good Morning America” today to share why it is so important for adults to get seven to nine hours of sleep a night, saying that insufficient sleep impacts your hunger and fullness hormones.

When you’re not getting enough sleep, the level of ghrelin, the hormone that tells your brain when it’s time to eat, increases. In addition, the level of leptin, the hormone that tells your brain when to feel full, decreases.

As a result, sleep deprivation can lead to overeating and gaining extra pounds, according to Ashton.

If you find yourself especially hungry late at night, Ashton shared her top picks for foods that can help promote good sleep, as well as what to avoid eating before going to bed.

Dairy products make the perfect late night snack, as well as foods like nuts and seeds, bananas, honey and eggs.

If you are especially hungry at night, Ashton recommends going for some carbohydrate rich foods, which may help boost tryptophan in your blood. She recommends eating a bowl of cereal and milk, nuts and crackers or bread and cheese.

“People used to think it’s the tryptophan, which is that amino acid [but] actually you can’t just pull out tryptophan in foods because they’re all bundled together,” Ashton said. “What it probably is, is an insulin spike in your body that occurs after you eat carbs like this that helps you sleep.”

She added, “In moderation, it’s a good thing for sleep.”

Spicy foods, such as jalapenos, can hurt your sleep, Ashton said.

Chocolate contains “hidden caffeine,” and should be avoided before bedtime, according to Ashton.

Alcohol can also hurt the quality of your sleep.

Foods high in protein can hurt your sleep because it is harder to digest and contains the amino acid tyrosine, which promotes brain activity. Ashton recommends skipping out on high-protein snacks before bedtime.

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ABC News: Health