Oh sleep why are you so elusive?
Is that late evening cup of strong coffee making it difficult for you to sleep? Or is a heavy scrumptious meal at your favorite fine dine restaurant the best way to guarantee a good night’s sleep?
Most people experience the impact of food and drinks on their energy and alertness. Studies have shown that the prevalence of insomnia is about 9% in the general Indian population. A lot of people think that having a heavy meal at night will help them sleep better. This is not necessarily true and this choice could have a negative impact on their weight, cardiovascular health, and blood sugar levels.
On the other hand, research has shown that certain foods can help improve the quality of sleep by increasing the secretion of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone. Some of these are:
Milk and milk products like curd, paneer (cottage cheese) which are a source of calcium also contain tryptophan which increases the secretion of a hormone serotonin that helps in a healthy sleeping pattern.
Bananas are a good source of tryptophan and magnesium and might help in falling asleep easily.
Oats, a good source of carbohydrates and dietary fiber, are a known source of melatonin. A bowl of oats with fruits and milk can make a wholesome meal.
Rice, a staple of our diet, also helps in secretion of sleep inducing hormones.
Fatty fish are a good source of omega 3 fatty acids and vit D, which help the body naturally produce serotonin.
Nuts like almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and cashews contain melatonin as well as essential minerals like magnesium and zinc
Kiwifruit is a good source of vitamins C and E as well as minerals like potassium and folate. Some research has found that eating kiwi can improve sleep. (however more research is needed on the same.)
A balanced and consistent diet provides stable sources of essential vitamins and minerals that can promote sleep.
Some things to avoid
- Intake of caffeine particularly late evening. (Even decaffeinated beverages can have some caffeine content.)
- High alcohol consumption since it can alter one's sleep cycles even if it makes you sleepy at first.
- Late night eating in order to prevent the risk of acid reflux. Be especially careful with spicy and fatty foods late in the evening.