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Your All-Day Diet For Better Sleep

Written by Dr. Jatin Bhide on Fri, 11 November 2022

Key Highlights

  • Many categories of foods contain nutrients, fiber, and other compounds that help control the body's sleep cycle.
  • Preliminary studies show that several types of dry fruits, fruits, and seafood may improve sleep. People have used other foods and drinks for decades to treat insomnia and improve sleep.
  • Most potentially sleep promoting foods are nutritious and unlikely to cause harm, so they should be safe for anyone without allergies, to enjoy in moderation.
  • To get the potential benefits of some sleep-promoting foods, try eating them a few hours before bed to reduce the risk of indigestion and acid reflux.
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Sleep deprivation could have a dramatic impact on your personal life, work and health. From burnout to the increased risk of accidents, the list of possible side effects of sleep deprivation is enough to make anyone anxious. Thankfully, there are plenty of measures you can take to help improve your sleep quality. This article explores food that may be able to help you sleep better, plus helps you understand all about diets for better sleep.

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

Everyone needs different amounts of sleep, depending on their age and lifestyle. The recommended amount of sleep we should get every night is 7-9 hours for adults. Sleeping less than 6 hours has been associated with memory problems, mood changes, and impaired attention and concentration. If you're consistently sleeping less than 6 hours a night, it may be time to try some methods to help improve your sleep quality.

It's no secret that both nutrition and sleep play a fundamental role in our health, but the complex and important relationship between them are frequently overlooked.

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 that you need. At the same time, getting enough sleep is associated with maintaining a healthier body weight and can be beneficial for people who are trying to lose weight.

Recognizing the connections between sleep and nutrition creates opportunities to optimize both in order to eat smarter, sleep better, and live a healthier life.

Many factors lead to a poor night of sleep. Some people find it difficult to sleep due to stress, pain or other medical conditions. Others could be struggling with insomnia. The good news is that there are natural ways to help you fall asleep and stay asleep, such as modifying your diet. In this article, we explore how food can help you sleep better and how diet modification can help with insomnia.

How Does Sleep Affect Nutrition

Sleep is essential for the body to function properly. It allows the brain and body to rest and recover, and an increasing amount of evidence points to its role in maintaining proper nutrition and a healthy body weight.

  • Lack of sleep has been associated in multiple studies with an elevated risk of obesity.
  • Lack of sleep has also been connected to greater waist circumference, which is considered to be a worrisome indicator of numerous cardiovascular problems.
  • The effect of sleep on weight and body composition may be tied to how it affects appetite and nutrition.
  • Multiple studies have found that people with lack of sleep are more likely to increase their food consumption without an equivalent increase in energy expenditure.
  • Making this worse is that sleep deprivation also appears to provoke a tendency to select high-calorie foods that offer less nutritional benefits and create a greater risk of weight gain.

Certain hormones are considered to be driving factors behind these poor nutritional choices associated with sleep deprivation. The normal production of leptin and ghrelin, hormones that help control appetite and hunger, is thrown off even after short periods of inadequate sleep.

Other chemicals in the brain that help guide food choices may also be impacted by a lack of sleep. In addition, sleep is known to affect concentration, decision-making, and mood, all of which can play into the types of foods we incorporate into our daily diet.

Foods to Avoid for Better Sleep

what not to eat before bedtimeWe all know that what we eat can affect how we feel, but did you know that what you eat can also affect how well you sleep?

If you're having trouble sleeping, it might be time to take a closer look at your diet. Here are some foods that you should avoid if you want to get a good night's sleep.

  • Caffeine is a stimulant, so it's not surprising that it can make it difficult to fall asleep. Coffee, tea, energy drinks, and even chocolate contain caffeine, so if you're having trouble sleeping, it's best to avoid these items for a few hours before bedtime.
  • Alcohol may help you fall asleep initially, but it can lead to disrupted sleep later in the night. So if you're looking for a good night's sleep, it's best to avoid alcohol before bedtime.
  • Spicy food can cause heartburn and indigestion, which can make it difficult to sleep. If you're having trouble sleeping, try avoiding spicy food at dinner time.
  • Heavy meals can cause indigestion and heartburn, which can make it difficult to sleep. If you're having trouble sleeping, try avoiding heavy meals

Nutrient-rich Foods That Improve Sleep Quality

Nutrient-rich Foods for better sleepIf you're struggling to get a good night's sleep, you may be surprised to learn that what you eat (or don't eat) can have a big impact.

Nutrient rich foods are made up of substances that allow the body to have energy and function properly. These foods include macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

  • Macronutrients include carbohydrates, proteins and amino acids, fats, fibre, and water.
  • Vitamins play specific roles in a multitude of bodily processes, and there are 13 essential vitamins.
  • Numerous minerals are needed to power different systems of the body. Minerals are classified as either macro minerals or trace minerals depending on how much of them we need.

Proper nutrition requires obtaining a healthy balance of macronutrients and the necessary intake of vitamins and minerals. Most nutrition comes from food, but other sources, like drinks and dietary supplements, are contributors as well.

Certain nutrients can help improve the quality of your sleep. Some of these include magnesium, tryptophan, and omega-3 fatty acids. Getting enough of these nutrient-rich foods in your diet can help you sleep better and feel more rested when you wake up.

  • Magnesium is involved in many biochemical processes in the body, including those that promote relaxation. It can also help reduce anxiety levels, which can be helpful if you're struggling to fall asleep due to racing thoughts. Magnesium-rich foods include dark leafy greens, dry fruits, and seeds.
  • Tryptophan is an amino acid that's used by the body to make serotonin, a neurotransmitter that's associated with relaxation and sleep. Tryptophan-rich foods include eggs, cheese, salmon, tofu and soya bean.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and can help reduce stress levels, both of which can promote better sleep. Magnesium is a natural relaxant and can help promote a night of restful sleep. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, as well as in flaxseeds and chia seeds.
  • Vitamin B6 helps the body produce melatonin, which is a hormone that regulates sleep cycles. Foods rich in vitamin B6 include chicken, turkey, bananas, and whole grains.

What is the Best Diet for Sleep?

As a general rule, a balanced diet made up largely of a variety of vegetables and fruits can provide the recommended daily intake of vitamins and nutrients, contributing to better sleep while promoting a healthy weight.

Because both sleep and nutrition are extremely complex and involve multiple interconnected systems of the body, it is challenging to conduct research studies that conclusively demonstrate a single diet that is best for sleep. Instead, what appears most important is that a person gets adequate nutrition without over consuming unhealthy foods.

A high intake of a broad range of vitamins and minerals that enable almost all types of bodily systems and processes is crucial.

High-carbohydrate meals with a high glycemic index can also affect one's energy levels and sleep quality. It has been well established that high-carbohydrate meals can often make you feel drowsy. High-carbohydrate meals can also impair your sleep quality. In fact, high carbohydrate intake has been shown to increase the number of times you wake up at night and thus reduce the amount of deep sleep you get. It is no surprise that frequent consumption of energy drinks and sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with poor sleep quality.

East Asian Dishes With Health Benefits

Asian food on the whole is much healthier than Western cuisine; with the lack of dairy, fat and additives, along with a focus on zingy flavour and fresh ingredients.

One of the most notable benefits of Asian food is its reputation for being healthy, high in magnesium and low in calories. That's because many traditional dishes use spices instead of fattening ingredients like butter, oil, or cream to enhance flavour. Soy sauce is another ingredient found in lots of Asian recipes which can help people lose weight. Southeast Asia, the food bowl of Asia, covers 11 countries (i.e. Brunei, Cambodia, East Timor, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam).

The diet consists principally of rice or noodles as the staple food, fish as the main source of protein, fruits and vegetables, and herbs and spices. The cooking style is strongly influenced by the Chinese, Indian, and Malay culinary traditions. The food ranges from the rich and spicy dishes of the Muslims and the Indians in Brunei, East Timor, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore—the milder and less spicy local cuisines of the rest of the countries— to the relatively plain Chinese dishes among the Chinese communities in most cities.

Perhaps, the most distinguishing characteristics of Southeast Asian diet are the abundance of seafood and fruits and vegetables, and the liberal use of herbs and spices.

  • Fish is considered the healthiest source of protein, made even more nutritious when it contains ω-3 and ω-6 fatty acids.
  • Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, dietary fiber, and the nutritionally extremely important phytochemicals.
  • Spices enhance the flavor and taste of the food, but also add nutritional and medicinal value to the dishes because of their biologically active phytochemicals.
  • Generally, food of Southeast Asia is considered healthy as evidenced largely by the much lower incidence of acute obesity and cardiovascular disease as compared with the West. However, unfortunately, with the rapid development and industrialization in these countries, the food trend is moving away from the traditional rice and food with lots of fruits and vegetables to the Western-style fast food and protein-rich diets, with extremely damaging consequence, especially in big cities.

Conclusion

If you're looking for ways to improve your sleep, modifying your diet may be a helpful strategy. By making simple changes to what and when you eat, you can promote better sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and well-rested.

If you want to sleep better, there are many things you can do, but one of the most important is to pay attention to your diet for better sleep. Eating certain foods can help you sleep better while avoiding others can make it harder to get a good night's rest.

There are a few key things to keep in mind when it comes to eating for better sleep. First, try to avoid eating large meals before bedtime. This can lead to indigestion and make it difficult to fall asleep. Second, avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime. Both caffeine and alcohol can impair sleep quality.

Finally, focus on eating nutrient rich foods that promote sleep. Foods like cherries, kiwis, and bananas contain melatonin, which can help you fall asleep. Other good options include whole-grain bread, oatmeal, and chamomile tea. By making some simple modifications to your diet, you can help ensure that you get a good night's sleep.

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Dr. Jatin Bhide

Dr Jatin Bhide is an Ayurvedic doctor with over 16 years of enriching experience in Marketing and Strategy across OTC/FMHG, herbal medicine and Nutraceuticals (Europe) industries. He did his Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) from Mumbai University, before moving on to do a Post Graduate Diploma in Pharmaceuticals and Healthcare Management.

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  1. Sleep Foundation: Nutrition and Sleep
  2. Medical News Today: Which foods can help you sleep?
  3. Ooraikul, B., Sirichote, A., & Siripongvutikorn, S. (2008). Southeast Asian Diets and Health Promotion. Wild-Type Food in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, 515-533. doi:10.1007/978-1-59745-330-1_36