Have you ever experienced a sleepless night after a drinks party? Have you slept like a baby after drinking a glass of milk? Did you notice the correlation between what you consumed at dinner and your sleep pattern? Food and sleep go hand in hand. The right diet will lead to a good night’s sleep while the wrong food will keep you awake.
A good night’s sleep is perhaps the most important therapy a human needs to rejuvenate him/her. However, people do not pay enough attention to their diet or sleep pattern. In today’s stressful and competitive world, people have irregular sleep patterns because of irrational workloads and faulty diets.
Let us look at those foods which are known to have a positive effect on sleep patterns. They include -
- Malted Milk
- Fatty fish
Did you know that a normal glass of milk is helpful in giving you a good night’s sleep? Milk contains melatonin which is a natural source of the sleep-inducing hormone. When you consume a glass of milk at night time, you are most likely to sleep like a baby.
Studies have shown that malted milk products are beneficial when you are trying to achieve a better sleep pattern. Malted milk is rich in Vitamins B and D .That probably explains why drinking malted milk leads to less sleep interruptions
Kiwifruit is known to be rich in vitamins and minerals including Vitamin C, E, potassium and folate. It also contains serotonin that is known to have sleep-inducing properties. Having a couple of kiwifruits an hour before you hit the bed may well be the mantra for a good night’s sleep.
A handful of nuts like walnuts, pistachios, cashews and almonds can improve the quality of your sleep; this has been confirmed by research scientists after conducting clinical trials. Nuts contain magnesium, zinc, melatonin and other minerals. Clinical trials have shown that they helped adults who suffered from insomnia to get a peaceful sleep. So, next time, you struggle to sleep, you can try and have some nuts.
Fatty fish is one of the most important sources of omega 3 and vitamin D that help in the regulation of Serotonin, the sleep-inducing hormone. Research studies clearly show that those who have fish as a part of their regular diet have better sleep patterns.
Rice has always been known to make one feel a little drowsy. Studies show that consumption of food with a high glycemic index a few hours before bedtime induces better sleep. As compared to wheat, rice seems to have a more positive effect on the sleep pattern.
Now that you know what is good for your sleep, it is important to also know what to avoid so that you don’t impact the pattern negatively.
It is good to avoid the following foods if you want a deep sleep. Remember, a good sleep cycle is vital for your physical and mental health. Sleep deprivation, over a long period of time, is undesirable and can have debilitating effects on your health.
The following items are best avoided if you want a good night’s sleep. They include -
- Deep-fried food
- Food with high fluid content
- Food with high caffeine content
- Food with high sugar content
- Food high in tyramine content
- Spicy food
- Food that is difficult to digest
That is quite a list, isn’t it? Simply put, a heavy meal right before bedtime is not what the doctor has prescribed for a good night’s sleep.
Alcohol before bedtime can play havoc with your sleep pattern. It can affect your natural sleep cycle and reduce the REM sleep that your body needs to restore its energy levels.
Heavy meals with a lot of deep-fried food are okay for lunch but are not advisable for dinner as it is difficult to digest. It makes the body feel heavy and can keep you awake at night
Food with high fluid content
Drinking a lot of water right before bedtime can keep you awake by forcing you to visit the washroom. Similar is the case with celery, watermelon and the like that contain a lot of water. They are best avoided during dinner.
Food with high caffeine content
It is best to avoid coffee, tea, ice cream and even chocolate before bedtime. The caffeine content in these can keep you awake well past your sleep time. That’s why students who stay up at night gulp down cups of coffee to stay awake.
Food with high sugar content
Sugar has always been associated with hyperactivity. Consuming sugary food at night can interfere with your normal sleep pattern. Too many sweets are best avoided during dinner.
Food high in tyramine content
Did you know that food items like tomatoes, eggplants, red wine etc contain tyramine that stimulates brain activity? Now you don't want your brain to be awake and working at night, do you? So these foods are best avoided or reduced at dinner time.
Consuming spicy food at dinner time can disturb your sleep pattern by causing heartburn. This may lead to disturbed sleep and is best avoided.
Food that is difficult to digest
Foods that contain a lot of fibre and are difficult to digest should be avoided at dinner time. These include Cauliflower, Broccoli, Brussel sprouts etc. They are gas inducing and take a long time to digest keeping you awake for a prolonged period.
In conclusion, your sleep cycle is influenced to an extent by the food you eat. You are better off having a light dinner that is easy on the stomach. You should ideally avoid the food in the negative list and try to include a couple of items from the positive list to give yourself the gift of a peaceful night’s sleep. The old adage which said you should have breakfast like a prince, lunch like a king and have dinner like a pauper was probably referring to the concept of sleeping on a light stomach.