It’s no secret that nutrition and sleep play a fundamental role in our health, but we often overlook the complex and important relationships between them. Diet and nutrition can influence the quality of your sleep, and certain foods and drinks can make it easier or harder to get the sleep you need.
Sleep like a baby:
Some foods contain sleep-regulating hormones, antioxidants, nutrients, and brain chemicals, such as melatonin and serotonin, that induce effortless sleep and help you fall asleep faster or stay asleep longer. To reap the maximum benefits of sleep-enhancing foods and drinks, the best window to have them is 2–3 hours before bedtime. Eating right before bed may cause digestive issues, such as acid reflux.
- Almonds are a rich source of magnesium and melatonin. If you are wondering how this works, melatonin regulates your internal clock and signals your body to prepare for sleep. Recommended quantity: A 28-gram serving or about a handful.
- Chamomile tea and passionflower tea contain apigenin, an antioxidant. Apigenin binds to specific receptors in your brain, promotes sleepiness, and reduces insomnia.
- Kiwi is an excellent source of Serotonin, a chemical that regulates your sleep cycle. Research shows that people who consumed Kiwi for two weeks reported that they could sleep through the night better.
- Fatty Fish has high omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D increases the production of serotonin, thus regulating your sleep cycle.
- The fatty acid makeup of walnuts may also contribute to better sleep. They provide alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid converted to DHA in the body. DHA may increase serotonin production.
Other food items that help you sleep better are white rice, bananas, oatmeals, and dairy products are all great sleep inducers, as they are rich in a nutrient called tryptophan.
Stay up like an owl:
Now coming to the types of food you should cut out of your nighttime routine, the no-brainer suggestion is to avoid anything that’s a stimulant, foods that are not easy to digest, too much sugar or spice, or anything that will give you heartburn.
- Alcohol does interfere with your natural sleep cycle. So excessive drinking before bedtime, especially frequently, can decrease the amount of restorative Rapid Eye Movement sleep you get. A few beers, a glass of wine, or a nightcap is great, but that binge drinking is a strict no for good sleep.
- Fatty, cheesy, spicy, and fried foods cause indigestion and keep you up at night. We are talking cheeseburgers, fries, fried foods, and large steaks closer to sleep time.
- High water-content food means multiple bathroom visits. It is better to stay clear of high water content food such as watermelon, cucumbers, and celery.
- Sugar high food such as candies, desserts are high stimulants as they spike your blood sugar, and you stay wide awake.
- Food rich in tyramine has amino acids that make the brain release a natural stimulant that stimulates brain activity. Some examples include tomatoes, soy sauce, aged cheese, eggplant, and red wine.