Trouble Sleeping? Seven Easy Food Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep
Everyone needs sleep. But most of us aren’t really getting enough. Unfortunately, there's no button to push that instantly puts you to sleep and wakes you up feeling refreshed. So we must prepare ourselves right through the day to sleep well before bedtime. To snooze better, try these time tested and very effective tips and tricks to doze off quickly and comfortably.
1. Grow Some Sleep
Switch to herbs instead of sleeping pills to improve the quality of sleep without feeling groggy the next morning. Begin with lavender and chamomile. They are sleep-inducing. Plus, there’s an added benefit. Gardening has been proven helpful in calming the nerves, so growing them at home will deliver a double bonus!
2. Keep Your Gut Happy
One of the best ways to ruin a good sleep is to upset your gut. You really need to keep it happy during the night. And that begins right in the morning. So breakfast should be your heaviest meal of the day and dinner the lightest.
Digesting food takes energy. If you eat a heavy meal late in the day, your body will have to work hard to digest it while you're trying to sleep. So try not to go to bed hungry, but avoid heavy meals before bedtime.
3. Eat Some Turkey for Dinner
You know about tryptophan — the sleep-inducing amino acid, right! It is found in abundance in turkey. Tryptophan is known to increase the feel-good brain chemical, serotonin, which in turn is converted into sleepy-time hormone melatonin.
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4. Have Banana in the Evening
Bananas work on two levels. First, they are a form of carbs, so they induce sleep. Plus, they contain the natural muscle-relaxants magnesium and potassium which again helps.
5. Score Some Elatonin
Melatonin is a hormone that relaxes you and puts you to sleep. Foods naturally rich in melatonin are:
1. Fruits and vegetables - Corn, asparagus, tomatoes, pomegranates, olives, grapes, broccoli, cucumber
2. Grains - Rice, barley, and rolled oats
3. Nuts and Seeds - Walnuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds, mustard seeds, flaxseed
6. Have a Serotonin Boosting Bed-Time Snack
Go for a serotonin-producing snack. Our body needs tryptophan to make serotonin, the neurotransmitter that calms and makes us sleepy. But the trick is to combine foods that have some tryptophan with ample carbohydrates. How does this help?
For insomnia-busting tryptophan to work, it has to reach the brain. All amino acids compete for transport to the brain. When we add carbs in the picture, they lead to the release of insulin, which takes the competing amino acids and incorporates them into muscle…but leaves tryptophan alone. Then it can make its way to the brain, to be converted to serotonin, and cause sleepiness. Complicated? Just choose from these:
1. Yogurt topped with 2 tablespoons low-fat granola cereal
2. A glass of milk with some haldi and pepper paired with a date or anjeer
3. Sliced apple with 1-2 teaspoons natural peanut butter are good choices
7. Catch the Sleep Robbers
Stimulants can stay in the body as long as 14 hours and increase the number of times you awaken at night, decreasing your total amount of sleep time.
Cut out caffeine after 2:00 p.m. Although coffee is the most obvious source of caffeine, don't forget that there's also caffeine in colas, chocolate, tea, and some medications.
Alcohol is a depressant and may help you fall asleep, but the subsequent metabolism that clears it from your body when you are sleeping causes a withdrawal syndrome. This withdrawal causes awakenings and is often associated with nightmares and sweats. If you have insomnia, omit alcohol for a few weeks to help resolve your sleep issues.
(Kavita is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico) and Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa).)
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