Sleep is a crucial part of an your daily routine. It helps with physical and mental restoration, regulates mood and emotions, and boosts cognitive performance. However, various factors can negatively impact sleep quality, including diet and nutrition.
Consuming a balanced and healthy diet can positively impact sleep quality. Eating foods rich in tryptophan can help to regulate sleep patterns because it is an amino acid that our body uses to make melatonin. Melatonin is responsible for making us feel sleepy in the evenings until we doze off, and it keeps us in a deep sleep throughout the night. Examples of foods high in tryptophan include turkey, chicken, fish, eggs, nuts, and seeds. Additionally, consuming foods rich in magnesium, such as spinach, almonds, and avocado, can also help with relaxation and our sleep quality.
On the other hand, consuming foods or drinks high in sugar, caffeine, and alcohol can adversely impact sleep quality. These chemicals can cause restlessness, disrupt sleep patterns, and lead to frequent awakenings throughout the night. It's important to try to limit these foods and drinks, especially in the evening close to bedtime.
Our circadian rhythm (our 24 hour body clock) relies on external cues to stay on schedule. The most important is natural daylight, but a consistent eating schedule can also really help to signal to your brain and body the difference between day time and night time. Going to bed hungry or too full can lead to discomfort and disturbances during sleep. Try to eat your last meal a few hours before going to bed to allow your body time to digest before settling into a fasting and relaxed state overnight.
Not only can our nutrition affect our sleep, but sleep can also affect our nutrition. It's been well proven that when we're sleep deprived, the hormones that usually keep our hunger and fullness cues controlled become imbalanced. Leptin is the hormone responsible for making us feel full after eating and ghrelin is the hormone that causes us to feel hungry. When we're not sleeping enough, leptin levels fall and ghrelin levels rise, making us feel hungrier and overeating becomes easy because we have to eat more to feel full. Essentially, there are two ways of getting energy - sleeping and eating. If we aren't sleeping enough, it's natural that we're going to look to food to give us an energy boost so it becomes easier to reach for calorie dense foods such as those high in fats and sugar.
In summary, diet and nutrition play a significant role in sleep quality. Consuming a balanced and healthy diet rich in tryptophan and magnesium can positively impact sleep patterns and promote restful sleep along with other sleep hygiene techniques such as a comfortable sleeping environment, regular exercise and a relaxing bedtime routine. It is crucial to avoid consuming foods high in sugar, caffeine, and alcohol, especially before bedtime, to improve sleep quality. Taking these steps to prioritize sleep can lead to improved overall health, mood, and cognitive function.