Sleep is one of the most essential requisites of life, and no human being can function properly without a good night's sleep. You must've noticed that you feel cranky, lethargic and aren't able to focus on your daily activities, the next day when you haven't got your snooze. Why is sleep so important, researchers are still working on it.
People with their busy lifestyles often complain that they have trouble sleeping at night. There could be multiple reasons behind that - lifestyle changes, physical conditions, anxiety and depression or food habits. Good quality sleep depends on what time we wake up and what time we go to bed, the amount of time we dedicate to our phones and laptops, the amount of exercise our body gets and also what we're putting into our body . If you're gonna hog on a cheeseburger and fries, late at night, it is pretty obvious that you won't be getting good quality sleep.
Why is a nutrient-rich and healthy diet so important?
When we maintain a healthy, balanced diet throughout the day, the essential nutrients are absorbed by our bodies. These, in turn, provide our brain with the chemical environment it needs to produce neurotransmitters that are required to maintain ample sleep.
Studies show that the consumption of excessive sugar and saturated fat and less fibre leads to a lower quality of sleep, where it is likely for you to wake up often, throughout the night.
What should you avoid eating at night, to avoid ruining your sleep?
Two major items that should be avoided before going to bed are caffeine and alcohol. A cup of coffee in the evening surely disrupts sleep as coffee is a very obvious source of caffeine. Other items such as tea, aerated drinks, chocolate also contain caffeine. Thus it is advisable to cut off all such sources of caffeine, 4 to 6 hours prior to bedtime.
Pain relievers, diuretics, cold medicines or pills for weight loss - these might contain caffeine, often more than caffeine in a cup of coffee. So it is better to check the label of these medicines to see if your medicines are interfering with your snooze.
The second bandit, alcohol is said to help you fall asleep quickly, but beware, it won't be a good quality sleep. You might wake up many times throughout the night, and also experience nightmares, headaches, sweating and grogginess. Overall, it would not be a very peaceful sleep. Thus, it is better to avoid alcohol, altogether, few hours prior to bedtime.
Spicy as well as acidic foods cause heartburn, leading to disruption of sleep because lying down worsens heartburn. This is because our digestive system becomes slower when we sleep.
We also know how important it is to consume protein, but it is harder to digest so it's better to avoid it before going to bed. Protein also contains amino acid tyrosine. This leads your brain to become active. Thus, you can opt for some cheese or crackers instead of a high-protein snack, before bedtime.
A carbohydrate-rich meal makes you feel drowsy as it contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which gets converted into serotonin and in turn, to melatonin. Dairy products, seafood, nuts and fruits are rich in tryptophan.
Foods such as dark green leafy vegetables, avocados and low-fat yoghurt contain magnesium, which is a natural relaxant. Hence, it has also earned the title of "the sleep mineral". Another mineral that helps the brain make melatonin, is calcium. Often, a deficiency of calcium might cause you to wake up and experience trouble going back to sleep. Thus, those who suffer from insomnia, benefit from a diet that is rich in calcium.
Vitamin B6 and drinks like warm milk, chamomile tea or peppermint tea also contain minerals and vitamins that help achieve a good quality sleep.
Another great way to get a good snooze at night is to exercise during the day. Exercising helps prevent health conditions that may inhibit sleep. Since exercise has an alerting effect on your body, it is best not to work out at least three hours prior to bedtime. It is also essential that you eat at proper times during the day. If you do not follow a timely routine, your body clock may get reprogrammed, affecting your health severely.
If you're having serious trouble sleeping at night, you might also be suffering from a sleep disorder, so it's ideal that you visit a doctor if this has been going on for a while.