To Sleep Tight, Eat Right!
Healthy Living

To Sleep Tight, Eat Right!

Mehvish Hamdare profile Authored by Mehvish Hamdare on 6 Jan 2015 - 10:10.

Tired of staring at the ceiling and counting sheep? Sleep deficiency is one of the most common problems faced by people of all ages these days. Not many people are lucky enough to fall off to sleep within seconds of hitting their pillow. Good sleep is everybody's birth right and much like eating is an essential part of life. Unfortunately, only one fifth of the world's population enjoys perfectly healthy, restorative sleep.

The anxieties of the daytime, working odd hours, eating junk food, leading a sedentary lifestyle with lack of relaxation techniques, stress and depression, deficiency of certain vitamins and minerals,  are some of the reasons that attribute to the incidences of bad sleeping pattern.

Did you know humans die earlier without sleep, than they do without food? Fortunately, food could be the solution to your sleep problems, as what you eat will influence big time on the quality and duration of your sleep. So stop reaching out for sleeping pills and start hunting for the sleep inducers, right in your kitchen.

Many foods contain natural substances that induce sleep. Some of the best choices to help you settle down for a peaceful sleep are:

Banana

Banana is practically the best sleep-inducing food as it’s an excellent source of magnesium and potassium which help to relax overstressed muscles. Even if you suffer from muscle spasms or cramps during the night, you could have insufficient electrolytes, magnesium and potassium. Bananas also contain tryptophan, which convert to serotonin and melatonin - the calming hormones in the brain.

Milk

A glass of warm milk before sleeping has always been a custom in Indian culture and it’s not just an old wives' tale. Dairy products are rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which helps in the production of the sleep-inducing brain chemicals, serotonin and melatonin. Additionally, milk also offers a good dose of calcium, which helps regulate the production of melatonin. Milk is an excellent source of magnesium, which, according to a study by the Human Nutrition Research Centre, has been found to be associated with deeper, less-interrupted sleep. So, start taking a warm cup of milk with a pinch of turmeric as it works wonders.

 Chamomile tea/ Herbal tea

Chamomile tea has been used as an herbal remedy for insomnia for thousands of years. In one animal study, it calmed down mice as effectively as tranquilizers, and in the only human study, the herb reduced mild to moderate generalized anxiety disorder, much better than placebo. In a study presented at the Experimental Biology Scientific Conference in April 2014, researchers found that decaffeinated tea decreased the time needed to fall asleep and increased total sleep duration and total sleep quality.

Almond

Just a handful of these and you'll be dozing off in no time. Almonds contain muscle-relaxing magnesium and sleep-inducing tryptophan, which increases the brain's level of feel-good serotonin that plays a key role in regulating sleep. A study published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine found that when the body’s magnesium levels are too low, it makes it harder to stay asleep.

Cherries

A natural source of melatonin, researchers in the Journal of Sleep and Sleep Disorders indicate that consuming cherries before bed helped people sleep faster and easier.Research published in the June 2010 Journal of Medicinal Food suggests that a glass of tart cherry juice, a natural source of melatonin, may significantly reduce insomnia

Honey

Glucose, which is found aplenty in honey, tells your brain to shut off orexin, which is a chemical that is known to trigger alertness. According to Michael McInnes of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, eating a tablespoon or two of honey at bedtime can improve sleep quality without causing weight gain. Drizzle honey in milk or over your oatmeal to get sound sleep.A word of caution, too much sweet can stimulate your brain.

Flaxseeds

Flax seeds increases the sleep-regulating substance serotonin in the body due to their high levels of both tryptophan and omega-3 fatty acid. Magnesium has also been shown to help prevent restless leg syndrome and night terrors; both of which can affect sleep. Flaxseed oil helps combat insomnia. So for those of you, who can't sleep, try taking flaxseed oil before bedtime.

Oatmeal

A bowl of nice, warm oatmeal sounds comforting before bed. Oats are a good natural source of melatonin, which is often taken as a sleep aid due to its ability to help regulate the body’s internal clock. Just one bowl provides plenty of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon and potassium – all sleep-promoting nutrients.

What to avoid?

  • Avoid large, high-fat meals late in the day.
  • Avoid caffeine late in the day and avoid alcohol at bedtime.
  • Avoid alcohol and wine.
  • Nicotine is a stimulant, so avoid smoking.

Be mindful of what you eat as eating unhealthily will have an adverse effect on your sleep.

 

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*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.