Food, Sleep And You
Many of us fall asleep right after putting our heads on our pillows. However, many people have problems falling asleep at a reasonable hour each night. Even though the National Sleep Foundation recommends getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night, many of us sleep only around six hours or even less .
Sometimes due to work pressure, you must stay up whole night which automatically disturbs your sleep. Lack of sleep not only makes you stressful, but it also becomes difficult for you to focus on your work the following day.
Basically, too much sleep and too little sleep will not do anyone any favour. However, you can manage your sleep patterns to an extent by consuming certain foods. How your body acts depend on the way how you treat it.
When your sleep suffers, there are consequences beyond dark circles under your eyes, as it tends to make the person be fussier and tetchier and not fun to be around with. It can make the level of cortisol and stress hormone to be elevated, which does have an impact on your eating habits as you tend to wolf down more and eventually store belly fat .
Sleeping less can quadruple the risk of cancer and affect your brain and heart health. It can even increase the risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Not sleeping well can be a waking nightmare; however, many foods can help you to fall asleep and feel rested. What you eat does have a significant impact on your sleep .
In this article, we will look at the link between food and sleepiness, where we will explore the foods that can make you sleepy or tired, to see the types of foods you can eat before going to bed to promote better sleep, and to avoid when you should not be sleeping.
Almonds contain magnesium that aids in treating insomnia because these nuts are a source of the hormone melatonin, which help regulate your internal clock and signals your body to prepare for sleep . They are also rich in protein that helps to regulate the blood sugar levels while you are sleeping. Also, almonds contain a good amount of tryptophan and magnesium – a well-known muscle relaxant -snack on a handful of almonds before bedtime for a good night’s sleep.
Walnuts are rife with melatonin and eating them regularly can improve your sleep quality. Eating this rich snack before bedtime could make you drift off with ease. Eating walnuts increases the blood levels of melatonin, which thereby induces a peaceful sleep .
Studies attribute the sleep-promoting effects of kiwis to serotonin, a brain chemical that helps regulate your sleep cycle . The anti-inflammatory antioxidants in kiwis, such as vitamin C and carotenoids, also possess sleep-promoting effects . Eating kiwi every day is linked to substantial improvements in your sleep quality as well as the efficiency of sleep.
4. Tart Cherry
Cherries contain a fair amount of melatonin, the chemical that can help control the body’s internal clock. Studies point out that eating cherries, particularly tart cherries, several hours before going to bed will help you get better sleep . If fresh cherries are not available, you may opt for cherry juice or dried or frozen cherries. According to health experts, individuals with chronic sleeplessness must drink a cup of cherry juice twice daily until their situation improves .
5. Chamomile Tea
The high amounts of antioxidants and zero calories in green tea makes it one of the best drinks before bedtime . Drinking a mug of chamomile tea can relieve stress and help you fall asleep faster. It contains glycine, a known chemical that acts as a sedative as well as promotes relaxation. Known to be a sleep-inducing remedy, chamomile can improve the quality and quantity of slumber. Regular consumption of chamomile tea may help decrease blood sugar levels and prevent nerve and circulatory damage .
6. Passionflower Tea
Another herbal tea to add to your list of foods for sleep is passionflower tea. This herbal drink is a rich source of flavonoid antioxidants and has been proven to help manage anxiety . The antioxidant apigenin has a calming effect and can help promote sleepiness.
7. Warm Milk
The glass of milk that your mom gives you at bedtime has some logic behind. Milk helps you to fall asleep and prevents sleep disturbance . Milk contains an amino acid tryptophan, which helps in the production serotonin in the brain and helps you to get more rest. Calcium found in milk manages to reduce the stress and stabilises the nerve fibres in the brain. Also, milk is an excellent way to obtain calcium, which helps modulate melatonin production. Moreover, the warmness of the milk has a soothing effect on the senses, which makes you drowsy .
8. White Rice
In accordance with research revealed in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, individuals who ate jasmine rice for dinner fell asleep quicker when compared with other types of rice . It also increases the production of tryptophan as well as serotonin in the blood, thus encouraging sleep.
Lettuce contains lactucarium, which has sedative properties, and it has the same effect on the brain, slightly like that of opium . You can eat a salad with a lot of lettuce or boil 3-4 lettuce leaves in one cup water and add two twigs of mint and gulp it before going to bed.
10. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish may help improve sleep because they are a good source of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acid . These nutrients help promote the production of serotonin, the hormone responsible for establishing regular sleeping and waking cycle (REM). Include salmon, tuna etc. in your dinner menu for a good night’s sleep.
11. Barley Grass Powder
Studies say that barley grass powder is rich in several sleep-promoting compounds such as calcium, tryptophan, zinc, potassium, and magnesium . Barley grass powder may promote sleep and help prevent a range of other conditions. You can mix barley grass powder into juices, smoothies, salad dressings, and soups.
Oatmeal might be your favourite breakfast; however, you may not be aware of the fact that the grains present in the oatmeal can instigate insulin production . Besides, they also elevate the levels of blood sugar and make you feel very drowsy. Being rich in melatonin, oats also soothe your body and make you fall asleep.
Some of the other foods that may help promote sleep/make you sleep are as follows:
13. Honey: Honey is rich in glucose which ‘shuts up’ a chemical present in your brain known as orexin, which activates attentiveness. Just a tablespoon of honey is enough to give you a good sleep.
14. Whole grains: Whole grains are another superfood that helps in making you fall asleep sooner. They increase your blood glucose levels, which helps you to feel sleepy easily. Eat a slice of whole-grain bread before bedtime .
15. Dark chocolate: Dark chocolates contain serotonin which can help relax your body and give you a good night’s sleep. Have a piece of the dark chocolate chip before bedtime for a good sleep.
16. Pistachios: Some studies suggest that as pistachios contain magnesium, protein, and vitamin B6, they can help promote sleep . Also, these nuts contain certain phenolics which can reduce the breakdown of tryptophan to toxic compounds so that it is converted to melatonin, which in turn, may help promote sleep.
17. Kale: Kale is packed with calcium, so if you are lactose intolerant, you can add kale to your diet. A deficiency in calcium has been linked to sleeping troubles .
18. Banana: Bananas contain potassium and magnesium, which soothe your nerve and muscle. Banana also includes vitamin B6, which changes the tryptophan into the serotonin, which makes you feel even more relaxed.
19. Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes may help induce sleep as they contain carbohydrates and potassium that will relax your body. You can have baked sweet potatoes as a healthy bedtime snack to fall asleep .
20. Pumpkin seeds: Known to be packed with nutrients, pumpkin seeds have high amounts of the amino acid tryptophan, which may help you fall asleep. Consuming pumpkin seeds a few hours before bed will increase tryptophan level in your body, allowing your body to convert serotonin and thereby induces your brain to produce more melatonin (sleep hormone) .
21. Turkey meat: Turkey or any kind of poultry meat has ample amounts of tryptophan with an amino acid that induces sleep. While turkey is a good food to get sleep at night, avoid turkey sandwiches at work if you do not want to snooze after your lunch.
22. Chickpeas: Chickpeas are a good source of vitamins, especially vitamin B-6 and tryptophan . This helps to synthesise melatonin, the sleep hormone in your body.
23. Other dairy products: Apart from milk, some other dairy products like cheese or yoghurt can also trigger sleep. The calcium present in these daily products helps your brain to use tryptophan (present in the cheese or yoghurt) to produce melatonin which triggers sleep.
On A Final Note…
Now that you are aware of the foods that can make you sleepy, choose wisely – you know what to eat before you go to sleep and what NOT to eat before a meeting or a long lecture session.