Sleep is crucial for your body mind and soul. From keeping your immune system strong to help your brain stay sharp, the health benefits of a good night’s slumber are numerous. Still, some people find it hard to fall asleep, while others can’t stay asleep for long enough. But did you know that your diet could be the cause of your sleep problems? If the agony of sleeplessness has caused you trouble for many nights, understanding the link between your diet and your sleep could put you on the right track towards healthy sleep habits.
How Does Diet Affect Sleeping?
Besides providing your body with the fuel it depends on, the foods you consume also affect your sleep patterns at night. There are certain nutrients that affect your ability to fall asleep as well as the quality of slumber you get throughout the night. So if you’ve ever wondered why some foods give you a lift while others make you feel sleepy, understanding the connection between food and sleep could make things much easier for you.
Perhaps the most obvious way in which diet affects your sleep is by stimulating the biological systems that keep you awake. More specifically, sugars and stimulants can activate certain hormones and neurotransmitters. As a result, your body’s normal routine is affected, which means you’ll stay awake for longer. Other nutrients like spices and dairy can cause indigestion for some individuals. This leads to discomforts that cause restlessness throughout the night, making it difficult to fall asleep.
Besides, the digestive system consumes energy when processing food, and this has an effect of raising body temperature. Not only does this make it hard to fall asleep, but it also affects sleep quality. So while most people prefer to eat their largest meal of the day for dinner, the habit can make it hard for the body to wind down for sleep.
However, this doesn’t mean that one should go to bed hungry. Strange as it sounds, excessive hunger can also cause sleeplessness. The best approach would be to avoid large meals too close to bedtime. If you feel famished after dinner, a light snack (e.g. a banana or a small bowl of cereal) won’t hurt your sleep, as long as you consume it at least an hour before your bedtime.
What Should You Eat For Better Sleep?
Generally speaking, a sleep-promoting diet is very much similar to the one you’d use to lose weight. This means that it should be rich in whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables. Also crucial is the need to manage portion sizes and limit the intake of processed foods. To enhance your chances of having a good sleep every night, your diet should include:
-Whole grains: Lack of enough magnesium in your body could make it hard to stay asleep. Fortunately, eating barley, bulgur and other whole grains could take care of this, as such foods are usually rich in magnesium.
-Bananas: Not only are they rich in potassium, but bananas are also great sources of vitamin B6, which is one of the ingredients needed to produce a sleep-inducing hormone known as melatonin.
-Leafy green vegetables: These tend to be rich in calcium, a mineral used in the production of sleep-related hormones.
-Fish: Salmon, tuna, halibut and other fish are also good sources of vitamin B6.
-Fresh herbs: These are known to promote a calming effect on one’s body. For instance, sage contains certain chemicals that promote sleep by making the body less tense. You should, however, make your own sauces with these herbs, as opposed to consuming ready-made versions.
-Healthy fats: Foods rich in unsaturated fats include cashew nuts, walnuts, and almonds. Eating them can increase serotonin levels in your body, and improve your heart health as well. When shopping, read the labels carefully to ensure you don’t buy foods with trans and saturated fats.
From nodding off after lunch to tossing and turning with stomach problems, it’s no secret that what you eat can affect your sleep habits. So pay attention to the foods in your diet and your mealtimes as well. If you still have trouble sleeping even after changing your dietary habits, make an appointment with your doctor for professional assistance.