Sleeping is one of the most important natural processes in an organism. Our body performs vital functions while we are sleeping.
When we are sleeping out metabolism is at its lowest. Our body heals the damaged cells, and regenerate dead ones. Our body recovers from the day’s activities, let it be mental or physical. Our uses sleep as a form of daily recharge for the next day. The muscles of our heart and cardiovascular system are recharged and our body boosts its immune system.
Why is sleep important?
1. If you have ever had a bad night of sleep, you will know how you feel in the morning. Inadequate sleep makes us feel drowsy all day long the next morning. You will feel irritated, get easily frustrated and angry. Running low on energy, not able to keep up with conversations are other side effects.
2. Your focus is affected. If you are a student, you will have a hard time concentrating on studies. If you are a working person, work will seem more hectic than it is. Processing information will become difficult, keeping up everyday task becomes a chore. You might suffer from bad memory and lack of concentration. People who suffer from severe sleep deprivation, including jet lag, shouldn’t drive a car. It is as dangerous as drunk driving.
3. If you suffer from sleep deprivation for a long period it can cause changes in your hormones that regulate appetite. The hormone Leptin and Ghrelin control our appetite. If you suffer from sleep deprivation for a long time, the production of hormone Ghrelin increases which stimulates hunger. It causes you to eat more.
Whereas, production of Leptin decreases, a hormone which reduces hunger and makes you feel full. This might not be true for everyone, as every person is different and their body’s reaction to a lack of sleep will be different. some people tend to lose weight as a result of sleep deprivation, although that’s very rare it’s equally dangerous. Irregular eating habits ultimately cause major health issues in the long run.
4. Lack of sleep causes metabolic disorders such as high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. Other health issues include kidney function, liver function and fat accumulation around vital organs.
5. Mental health is compromised when you don’t get enough sleep. Problems such as depression and anxiety are very common Mental Health issues that people who sleep less have. It hampers your personal and professional relationships. Constant mood swings keep your loved ones at an edge. You wouldn’t find interest in things you once loved. Nothing would seem to make you happy.
6. Lack of sleep increases toxins in your body and as a result, you might get affected by several inflammatory diseases. Lack of kidney function is often associated with sleep deprivation. A bad kidney is unable to filter out toxins properly and give rise to other health issues.
There are a lot of things that can affect the quality of your sleep. It can be the way you sleep, your mattress, distractions, stress, health problems etc. With age sleep issues increase. If you are more than 30, taking care of yourself and putting effort into proper sleep becomes necessary.
One of the things that you should be mindful of is your diet and eating habits. What you eat affects how you sleep.
For example, too much caffeine, oily food, diet in low fibre, minerals and vitamins can cause deficiency or increase of certain sleep-promoting hormones in the body. Bad eating habits, such as binge eating, eating before bed, eating greasy food at night and consuming too much sugar or salt are some factors that cause sleep issues.
We need food to survive there’s no doubt about it but what we consume, directly affects our day to day life.
Doctor’s say breakfast is the most important meal of the day and rightfully so. It more or less gives us a kick start for the whole day. We should always start our day with a heavy meal. It should be rich in protein so that it gives us energy throughout the day. Before bed, however, you should eat less and avoid protein-rich diet. During sleep, our metabolism slows down to a great extent.
If you eat a lot right before you go to sleep your body won’t be able to process all the food properly. There are several health problems you can face in the long run if you keep up the habit of eating right before bed. Bad eating habits cause obesity, heart problems and several other metabolic disorders that lead to sleep disorders.
Make sure to eat at least two hours before your bedtime so your body has time to digest the food. It also helps you to avoid indigestion and heartburn.
Let us discuss several food products and their effect on our sleep
- Figs are considered to be one of the favourite fruits for people who have a sweet tooth. People trying to lose weight eat Figs but that is not the only function of figs. It helps to promote proper sleep. Figs contain natural sugars, soluble fibre, minerals, Potassium, Calcium Magnesium Iron and copper. All the minerals are necessary for sleep-regulating hormones.
- Figs are also considered a good source of vitamins such as Vitamin E and K. Both are considered to be antioxidants and is good to remove toxins. Prebiotics in the fig helps your digestive wellness. People who consume a high protein diet should eat figs to help promote good gut bacteria and avoid stomach worms.
- Figs promote good sleep, also the minerals help blood flow in our body, muscle contraction which is a great factor for good sleep.
Feeling hungry before bed is a common phenomenon, especially among people who are on a diet. Eating heavy before bed is not an option. It will badly hamper your sleep cycle. Try eating watermelon. Watermelon is a light fruit rich in minerals and contains 92% water. It helps to calm down your hunger and makes you fall asleep faster. Watermelon hydrates you as well.
- Oatmeal is the perfect breakfast snack but it can also be a good meal before bed. If you don’t like to go to bed hungry, have bowel problems in the morning, Oatmeals can the solution.
- Eating empty stomach causes gas formation in your stomach and turn to severe stomach aches. If you are trying to avoid calories a great substitute for heavier food such as pasta or McDonald’s can be fibrous oatmeal.
- Oatmeal triggers your body’s insulin production and makes your stomach feel full. Junk food might make you fall asleep easily but that’s because of all the carbohydrate and grease. You would feel side effects in the middle of the night when you get those nasty burps. Not to forget oats are rich in melatonin, a natural hormone that regulates the sleep cycle.
4. Sweet Potato
- Craving something starchy is very common for most of us. For people who like to have something sweet before bed or in the middle of the night, baked sweet potato can be a great nighttime snack. Also for people who like to eat something after dinner later at night, Sweet potato can be fulfilling.
- It contains minerals such as Potassium, Magnesium and Calcium which regulates the production of Melatonin and control the production of Cortisol. A hormone which is released during anxiety.
- Baked sweet potato with some brown sugar and butter are great for a midnight snack.
Pistachios are dry fruits that taste amazing. They work great to improve your sleep cycle. Try replacing unhealthy snacks such as chips with Pistachios. They not only taste great but they are a great source of Vitamin B6, Magnesium and Protein that helps you sleep better.
Just like watermelon, cantaloupe is a watery treat as well. It can also be a great way to hydrate yourself and help your midnight hunger go away. Cantaloupe has natural sweetening for all those sweet lovers. And the beautiful tropical Aroma helps people relax and fall asleep faster. Other fruits you can eat to hydrate yourself are apples oranges and pears. Hydrating fruits helps to sleep better at night, hydrate you and satisfy your food cravings.
7. Whole Wheat
Whole wheat contains magnesium which has said to help with your sleep cycle. A healthy level of magnesium is good for your body. It stabilizes mood and keep stress out of your brain and promote good sleep.
Other foods that can give you magnesium are squash, broccoli, dairy products and chocolate.
8. Peanut Butter
- Sweet craving right before bed or in the middle of the night is one of the main causes of high sugar intake. People who have a sweet tooth Crave sweet right before bed, in the middle of the night, after meals. There is nothing bad in wanting to eat something. As tempting as eating dairy products such as ice cream or Pastries or leftover doughnuts can be, they are high in sugar. High amounts of sugar will make you restless in bed. Most importantly, they are not good for your health.
- Eating a healthy snack right before bed can affect your sleep cycle. Peanut butter has natural sweetening. Make sure to buy the unprocessed one with no added sugar. Other nut butter like almonds can work great too if you are allergic to peanuts.
- Peanut butter is rich in protein you can spread it on fruits such as bananas, or sweet potato or just eat it as it is. Although, remember overeating peanut butter isn’t ideal. Always know your limit, one spoonful is often enough.
Almonds are a great snack on the bed if you like munching on something while watching TV on your bed or while reading books. Substitute them for those Cheetos and you see a significant difference in the quality of your sleep. Almonds are rich in Vitamin E and Magnesium which have said to promote good sleep and good heart health.
10. Dark Chocolates
For all the chocolate lovers the great news is, now they have an extra reason to eat chocolate. Dark chocolate can help you get a better sleep cycle. Dark chocolate promotes the production of serotonin, a chemical in our brain that relaxes our body and mind.
Banana can be considered one of the most loved fruits in the whole world. Banana contains minerals such as Magnesium and Potassium and Vitamin B6. Magnesium and Potassium help in the formation of Melatonin, a hormone which regulates the sleep cycle and gives you better sleep at night. Whereas Vitamin B6 converts tryptophan to serotonin. Serotonin is a hormone produced in the brain to help us relax and feel good. Serotonin promotes thoughtless, relaxing sleep.
Feeling extremely hungry at night would wake you up at night. If your body is not well nourished you will not achieve deep sleep. Hummus is not only tasty wholesome food, but it also has tryptophan which promotes better sleep. Eating hummus fulfil your appetite and helps you fall asleep faster without putting too much strain on your healthy diet.
Many people take melatonin supplements to sleep better, which can be effective for a small-time but in the long run people get dependent on them. Power fruits such as cherries have said to promotes the formation of natural melatonin in our body. Including cherries in your regular diet can help you get the melatonin naturally help you sleep better.
Milk has said to help many people fall asleep faster. If you are someone who likes to drink milk then it can help you sleep better. Milk contains amino acid tryptophan which is found in the brain chemical serotonin
There is no solid evidence on why milk helps you to fall asleep but a warm glass of milk have said to calm people down. Relax them and make them ready for sleep.
15. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea is often called sleep tea because of its relaxing abilities. It is said to reduce anxiety and depression. The tea contains antioxidants that are good for your health.
People who consume chamomile tea have often said to have alleviated their sleep problems by a great extent
Eating fish can help you get better sleep. Consumption is not necessary right before sleep but including fish in your dietary supplement can help you with sleep. Fish contains vitamin B6 which is responsible for melatonin a hormone that controls your sleep cycles.
Which Nutrients help us sleep Better ?
1. Vitamin D
Vitamin D or Cholecalciferol D3 or Ergocalciferol D2 is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps absorb calcium in the body. Vitamin D is naturally formed by our body when it is exposed to sunlight. Vitamin D and Melatonin secretion go hand in hand. Vitamin D deficiency may decrease the production of Melatonin. Decreased level of Melatonin isn’t good for sleep. People who don’t go out in the sun for long periods have Vitamin D deficiency and as a result, have more sleep disorders.
Melatonin or N-[2-(5-methoxy-1H-indol-3-yl)ethyl] is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in humans.
It helps to regulate the circadian rhythm of the body. Production of melatonin is often determined by the light and dark detection by the retina. High level of melatonin is secreted at night time and a high level of melatonin often induces sleep. During the daytime, melatonin secretion decreases and we don’t feel sleepy. Watching TV or computer or being on your phone hinders the melatonin formation causing a low level of melatonin. It causes sleep problems or sleep deprivation. A small amount of melatonin naturally is found in grains, fruits and vegetables. For people suffering from severe insomnia or people who have a hard time falling asleep taking melatonin supplements can help.
A proper amount of iron in the blood is important for oxygen circulation throughout the body. People who suffer from iron deficiency I have low levels of Oxygen. They will have a hard time falling asleep. People with low iron levels in the body are more restless in the bed. They do not find comfort. Include iron-rich food to promote better sleep. Some iron-rich food is dark chocolates, lamb, beans, whole grains, leafy vegetables. You can take iron supplements when recommended by a doctor.
As mentioned earlier melatonin can help you fall asleep or stay awake. Melatonin is formed by essential amino acid tryptophan which is formed with the use of calcium. Low levels of calcium in the blood make low levels of melatonin in the body.
Magnesium does not have any direct influence on sleep however, magnesium assists over 300 biochemical reactions in the body. Magnesium is needed in the production of amino acids which includes tryptophan. One of the amino acids that are that makes the hormone melatonin. It also helps serotonin formation, a chemical that aids better sleep. As of now, there are no supplements for magnesium, however, food that is rich in magnesium include leafy green vegetables, beans, whole grains and fish.
Magnesium is also said to help decrease the level of cortisol which is called the stress hormone. It is produced by the adrenal gland during times of stress.
6. Vitamin E
Vitamin is considered to be a strong antioxidant which helps to damage free radicals in our body and reduce the toxin levels. It also influences the formation of red blood cells. Red blood cells are important for oxygen regulation in our body people who feel restless while going to sleep. Are not able to sleep due to tossing and turning usually have a low level of oxygen in the blood. Vitamin E can help ageing women over 30 and help reduce hot flushes. Some food that contains vitamin E is leafy vegetables, fish, fruit and seeds.
7. Vitamin B complex
Vitamin B complex which includes vitamin B3 B5 B6 B9 and B12 help in the production of amino acids tryptophan. It is one of those amino acids which help in the production of melatonin and serotonin. A regular level of melatonin in the body helps us to fall asleep faster and have a night of quality sleep.
What Foods You Must Avoid To Get Better Sleep ?
Fried Chicken – Fried chicken must be your favorite meal. It is easy to order, is tasty and makes you fall asleep right after a heavy portion. Remember fried chicken is nothing but protein, fat, and a hell of a lot of salt. Protein digestion takes the longest in your stomach.
When you eat protein and go to sleep up your body has to do extra work to digest the protein. It is the reason why people feel hot after eating a lot of food, the digestion requires the body to maintain a high temperature. Your body won’t fall asleep until the temperature falls to a few degrees which is not possible if you have food in your stomach. The body needs to have a perfect temperature which is lower than normal to go to sleep.
Mints – So maybe you like the feel of Minty fresh breath. However, mints or peppermint are not good for your sleep. Mints are usually made to make you feel refreshed, it contains a little bit of stimulating agents that can badly affect your sleep. It is not a relaxant by any means.
Fast food, fried chips, burgers and Pizza
Nothing is worse than eating oily greasy sodium enriched fast food. A high-fat diet takes a long time for your body to digest, especially when you are sleeping. During sleep, your metabolism slows down and it becomes hard to digest all that food.
Aciding Juice – Acidic juices such as oranges or lemonade or juices that are too sweet like Coke or Pepsi can cause serious heartburn if consumed right before bed. When you are sleeping your body is essentially in a horizontal position and the acid runs up your food pipe causing you discomfort and lack of sleep.
Pasta – Pasta is the best dinner food for most of us, however, if you eat pasta loaded with tomatoes right before bed it can cause a serious acid burn. Tomato naturally has acidity, it which causes serious Acid Reflux.
Regular Tea – Regular tea contains caffeine, unlike herbal tea which is good for sleep. Consuming black tea can pose a problem for your sleep.
Excessive Alcohol – Alcohol may seem like a good option to fall asleep immediately but in the long run, alcohol adversely affects your sleep cycle. Alcohol hinders you from going into REM cycle of your sleep. The REM cycle is the time when you sleep the deepest. It happens roughly after 90 minutes of your sleep time. Alcohol does not let you sleep deeply. That’s why even though you sleep for a long time, not having deep sleep makes you feel tired in the morning. You will feel excessive drowsiness during the day and not refresh at all. Excessive Alcohol can also cause dehydration that is not only bad for sleep but bad for your overall health.
Drinking Multiple Cups Of Coffee During The Day – Too much caffeine intake can mess with your sleep cycle. Drinking coffee multiple times a day reduces the time that you spend sleeping. The less you sleep the more coffee you will need to feel alert. And the cycle goes on. Expert suggests intaking as less caffeine as possible.
You shouldn’t drink coffee six to eight hours before your bedtime.
Any Oily Food – Oily and unhealthy food have said to cause heartburn and stomach problems that can affect your sleep cycle. It also affects your body’s metabolism and your body’s natural clock.
What Are The Effects Of Over Eating On Sleep ?
Circadian rhythm of the body or body’s natural clock is controlled by several hormones. Hormones also control our sleep cycle, hunger level and other bodily functions. Things such as overeating or binge eating can affect these hormones and cause you to either feel sleepy throughout the day or give you sleep deprivation when you go to sleep.
People who overeat gain weight and suffer from obesity, which is one of the main causes of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleep condition or a sleep disorder where your breathing stops for a few seconds while you are in your deep sleep. It is a deadly problem if not treated well. It can very badly influence your sleep cycles. People with severe sleep apnea sleep with cpap machines to aid their sleep.
Obesity can also deteriorate your metabolic health. It weakens your heart muscles, cause high blood pressure and other health problems in the body Unhealthy body tends to have sleep deprivation problem. You will find falling asleep difficult. Even if you go to bed early you might feel restless. You won’t be able to relax properly.
How To Fix It – Take small portion sizes throughout the day. Avoid eating too much sodium or processed food. Replace your snacks such as chips with something healthy like dried fruits, nuts etc.
When you are eating a meal eat it with total concentration. Do not be distracted by TV or your phone or some other distraction. Include fresh vegetables, fruits and fibre in your food which makes you feel full but not gain a lot of weight. Drink adequate water.
What Are The Effects Of Under Eating On Sleep ?
If you’re under eating for any reason let it be psychological or other reason it can severely affect your body. If you eat less for a long time your body starts to eat itself to make energy. The body starts to metabolize its protein from muscles including your heart muscle. You will always feel tired for the whole day. You will not be able to focus. It can cause difficulty to fall into a deep sleep. You might feel sleepy the whole day but when you go to sleep you won’t be able to fully relax. You will start losing your hair, you will feel cold, your eyes will shrink. It can lower your life expectancy.
How To Fix It – If you are under-eating due to psychological problems then you should get medical help. you Make Lifestyle changes for both physically and mentally.
To wrap it all up, eating healthy and staying healthy is important for good sleep and all other regular bodily functions. Proper food, proper sleep, exercise are the factors that modern humans need to improve on.
Better lifestyle changes make them stronger and avoid diseases like heart attacks, strokes, blood pressure, cancer Kidney Disease, liver disease, obesity etc. A healthy person is happy and keeps the people around them happy.
People with a healthy lifestyle are often successful. They are mentally stronger and take better decisions.