How about we tell you that eating the right food can help you in getting a good night’s sleep? But before that, we are going to tell you why sleep is important. Now, there are three pillars of health—exercise, nutrition, and the third one is Sleep. Everyone has different sleep requirements, but in general, doctors recommend getting at least 7-8 hours of sound sleep.
The Covid-19 pandemic has decreased the quality and quantity of sleep in Indians. Sleep deprivation has been shown to increase the risks of many diseases like diabetes, weak immune system, high blood pressure, and stroke. Some short-term side effects of sleep deprivation you can experience are lack of concentration, paranoia, hallucination, and irritated mood.
These problems can be prevented by simply having regular and proper sleep. But, a proper sleep routine is difficult in this fast-paced world that demands 24/7 hustle. To help you out, we have created a list of 5 foods that you can include in your diet to promote good sleep.
In this fast-paced world, stress and anxiety are the top reasons for sleep deprivation. Because of long working hours, there is no time between signing off from work and going to bed, which hardly gives you time for winding down properly.
If this is something you experience, having a cup of warm chamomile tea can help you relax. Chamomile contains a compound called Apigenin, which helps to sleep, reduce insomnia, and relax your body. Research shows that chamomile tea can help in curing sleep problems. A study examined women with sleep issues who had given birth recently and showed that women who had chamomile tea after giving birth had fewer sleep issues.
So, if you are trying to manage your anxiety and get better sleep, including a warm cup of chamomile tea in your nighttime routine is worth it.
(Chamomile Tea; Photo by Mareefe, Source)
Almonds are a powerhouse of nutrients, so no points for guessing; they also help to promote good quality sleep. Almonds are an excellent source of melatonin, which is said to improve your internal clock and send signals to your body that it’s time to sleep. Almonds are rich in magnesium which has been shown to improve insomnia, sleep time and sleep efficiency. Magnesium also reduces cortisol levels in your body, a stress hormone which can hamper your sleep.
Almonds are also easy to include in your diet. You can eat a handful of them as a nighttime snack.
(Almonds; Photo by Kafeel Ahmed, Source)
Warm drinks, in general, are relaxing. If you are an Indian, drinking a glass of warm turmeric milk at night is a ritual you might be familiar with. Milk contains several compounds known to promote good sleep. It contains tryptophan, which is an amino acid your body can’t produce, and you get only through food.
Tryptophan is essential for the production of serotonin and melatonin in your body. Serotonin is the hormone that makes you happy, and melatonin is the one that makes you sleep better and regulates the sleep cycle. This is the reason why you get better sleep if you drink a cup of warm milk at night.
One thing to keep in mind is not to drink warm milk in the form of coffee, which can further disrupt your sleep and cause wakefulness. You can have a glass of plain warm milk or turmeric milk which has even more benefits.
(Warm Milk; Photo by Charlotte May, Source)
Kiwi is a fruit that is considered a superfood. It is one of the richest sources of vitamin C and helps in boosting your immunity. The antioxidant content of kiwi makes them a perfect food to aid good sleep. Research has shown that low antioxidant levels can result in poor sleep quality. It is a sign for you to include kiwi fruit in your daily diet.
Kiwi is also high in serotonin. Low levels of serotonin have been linked with depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders. The exact relation between serotonin and depression has not yet been determined. However, depression and anxiety can often lead to insomnia and other sleep issues. Serotonin is not for depression, but it is a feel-good hormone which can boost your recovery from depression.
You can easily include kiwi in your diet. Have it in your breakfast, replace your post-dinner dessert with kiwi or have it as a late-night snack. And, you don’t need to eat 10 kiwis in one sitting; having 1-2 kiwis is enough.
(Kiwi Fruits; Photo by Dmitry Demidov, Source)
Rice is the one food that has been demonised by everyone for all the wrong reasons. Rice is not just empty calories, and it definitely does not make you fat. In fact, it has been shown that people who eat rice have better sleep quality than those who eat bread or noodles. It can be because of the high glycemic nature of rice.
One research also proved that high GI foods can reduce the sleep onset latency if they are consumed 4 hours before sleeping. Sleep onset latency (SOP) is the time taken to fall asleep after switching off the lights. On average, it takes about 10-20 minutes for a person to fall asleep. However, if you are suffering from a sleep disorder or are stressed, this time can further increase.
You don't need to eat plain rice, but eating rice-based dishes can also work.
(Rice with Curry; Photo by Cats Coming, Source)
These 5 foods can help you improve your sleep cycle. But, this is not an exhaustive list. We understand sleep deprivation can leave you frustrated and desperate to find a quick fix. However, a regular sleep cycle is not a result of eating just one food; but a result of an overall healthy lifestyle, which includes diet and exercise.
Diet is multidimensional. Including just one food in your diet is not suddenly going to fix your sleep. A healthy diet means what you eat but also when and how. A healthy diet or lifestyle can also take weeks, months or even years to show results. It is important that you stay patient and not give up.
There are a few other things you can do to improve your sleep like: limiting your coffee and alcohol consumption, especially at night; these two are the most common sleep disruptors. Try not to use your phone or any smart device at least an hour before bedtime, and make sure to adjust the temperature of the room as per your comfort. Invest in a good mattress and pillow—they might sound like small changes but have a huge impact.
Review your lifestyle and daily habits, and start making a healthy sleep routine. We hope this article helped you.