With the hustle and bustle associated with modern life, we cannot undermine the importance of a good night’s sleep. However, as stress and anxiety have become as common as the common cold, quality sleep often remains elusive. In the case of sleeping disorders, it is crucial to consult an expert as soon as you start developing symptoms. If you don’t have a disorder you can try a couple of things for a deep, good quality sleep. As a matter of fact, the food we eat has a massive impact on our sleep. So what you can do is avoid those foods and drinks that disrupt sleep and have those that induce the same.
To know about such foods and drinks, Onlymyhealth spoke to Dr Priyanka Rohtagi, who is the Chief Nutritionist at Apollo Hospitals. But before we look at foods and drinks that impact sleep, keep in mind that there should be a gap of about 2-3 hours between dinner and bedtime for a good night’s sleep.
Foods That Disrupt Sleep
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You aren’t stressed out and do not suffer from any illnesses, yet have trouble sleeping. It could be due to the food you eat right before going to bed that might be interfering with your resting sleep. Here are some such foods:
- Chocolate: Who knew that this comforting late-night snack could disrupt your sleep. Chocolate contains caffeine, which is the worst thing you can have before bedtime. Not just chocolates, avoid all caffeinated food items, such as tea, coffee, energy boosters, 4-6 hours to your bedtime.
- Cheese: Yet another comforting food that messes with your sleep is cheese. Strong or aged cheese contains high levels of tyramine, an amino acid that makes us feel alert. This alerts our adrenal glands to produce cortisol, the ‘fight and flight’ hormone that makes us alert.
- Curry: As Indians, we have a problem here. Spicy foods such as curry, hot sauces and mustard contain chemical capsaicin in large amounts. It raises the body's temperature and interferes with sleep. Also you need lots of energy to digest curry, which isn’t good for deep sleep, Dr Rohtagi said.
- Ice cream: Sleep has a problem with all things sugar, such as ice cream, cookies, cakes, etc. Sugar leads to a spike in our blood sugar level that crashes while you’re asleep. This in turn sends an emergency signal to adrenal glands, which in turn releases cortisol hormone, which makes us alert.
- Crisps: Just like sugar, too much salt too is detrimental to quality sleep. A study by the European Society of Endocrinology showed that salty foods are among the worst you can put in your body before unwinding for the day. Such foods cause disrupted or ‘superficial’ sleep, hence should be avoided 2-3 hours before bedtime.
Foods That Promote Good Sleep
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Luckily, there are foods and drinks you can have for a good night’s sleep. Here are some of them:
- Nuts such as almonds and walnuts contain a sleep-inducing hormone called melatonin. They also contain magnesium, which is known for regulating blood sugar levels when we sleep. So instead of chocolate, have a handful of nuts before bedtime.
- Teas such as chamomile, rose petal and passion fruit, which don’t contain caffeine, are rich in antioxidants and improve sleep quality.
- Cherry naturally contains the sleep-inducing hormone called melatonin, which helps you fall into a deep sleep. So have some cherries before going to bed. Cherry juice will also do the trick.
- Banana is another fruit that can help you with sleep. It contains magnesium that relaxes muscles and calms your body, helping you unwind at the end of the day.
- Raw honey stimulates sleep-inducing melatonin. It also shuts off orexin, which is a neuropeptide that makes you feel sharp and alert. You can make an evening drink with it. Warm some water, add lemon and honey and have it before bedtime.
- Turkey is another food option that helps you with sleep. It is high in protein and contains tryptophan, an amino acid that plays a role in the production of serotonin, the mood enhancer hormone. Tryptophan is also found in brown rice, fish and yogurt.
Apart from these, there are tips you can keep in mind:
- Do not eat late at night or indulge in late-night snacking as your digestive system will be working to digest it.
- Pay attention to your portion. Large portion sizes can disrupt your digestion.
- Avoid sugar and caffeine at night as they will keep you up at night.
- Eat and drink something light before going to bed. If you sleep on an empty stomach, your blood sugar level dips, interfering with your body’s ability to sleep well.
So, try these options and watch their impact on sleep.
(With inputs from Dr Priyanka Rohtagi, Chief Nutritionist at Apollo Hospitals)
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