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All Things Sleep: Am I Eating Right?

Author: Gud Sleepz Team
Date:

All Things Sleep: Am I Eating Right?

All Things Sleep: Am I Eating Right?

“Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food” - Hippocrates


When it comes to food, many of us consider ourselves to be an expert. A healthy eating seems to be a common man’s knowledge and yet, many of us get it wrong when it comes to eating right. Is it unrealistic optimism or mere ignorance? I would say many of us are a combination of both. We know but still we choose to ignore the right choice and we think we are more in control of our situation and that bad things won’t happen to us. This is not my saying, it is actually a well-understood term in social psychology called ‘unrealistic optimism’ or ‘optimism bias’. 


A research conducted by Psychologist Neil Weinstein in 1980s where he found college students predicting negative events such as facing a job loss or illness to be much lower than their peers and predicting positive events such as having a promotion or owning a house to be much higher than their peers. The downsides of this bias is the ignorance of safety measures. This person might avoid using seatbelt or eating healthy or sleeping on time assuming illness wouldn’t affect them. This can cause a downward spiral in health behaviors. 


So when it comes to eating right, we all lag in terms of making the right choice considering the consequences and ill-effects of unhealthy eating. We all understand eating healthy for far many reasons such as preventing illness, weight loss and many other aspects of our lives. But we will today look into eating right to get a good night’s sleep. Yes, you can actually get a well-rounded sleep when you are mindful of your food choices. Let’s get into it. 


When it comes to sleep, it’s important to go easy on your gut. Anything heavy and too much is going to make your brain stay awake at night and mess up your sleep cycle. This is the overall mantra for sleep diet i.e., ‘less heavy, more comfort’. At the same time, starving yourself to sleep is also not recommended. You might have experienced a hungry stomach would keep you up the whole night. So, what is the balance? Let’s look at some food categories you can balance to get the right portion to sleep better. 


Carbohydrates (Glucose Booster) 


Studies associated with carbohydrates and sleep has shown mixed results and a high calorie intake of carbohydrates has been associated with problems with sleep initiation. Yet, do not get discouraged with the finding as not every carbohydrate is considered to be harmful for our sleep. A good balance of carbohydrates, proteins and fat can render benefits for a good sleep. Since carbohydrates breaks down into glucose and increases the uptake of tryptophan in the brain which influences the release of serotonin and melatonin and regulate sleep. Yet, a word of caution is, a heavy diet of carbohydrates with unhealthy fat may have reverse effects. So, a balance of healthy diet without being hard on your gut is very important. 


Sugars 


Sugars are the enemy be it for health or for sleep. Sugars at night or during the pre-evening snack has been found to decrease the overall quality of sleep leading to restlessness at night. It is not recommended to have a sugary food if you are not feeling sleepy, as it worsens the symptoms. Once it messes up your sleep leading to sleeplessness, you would crave for more sugars. This unending cycle would leave you exhausted the next day. Because sugar uses up a lot of magnesium, which is vital for sleep. (Do not confuse glucose boost with consuming sugars; it is not the same). 


Proteins


The protein we all are familiar with is of the animal protein but consuming meat products at night is actually heavy on the gut and disrupts your quality of sleep. It is recommended that you balance your meal with a good balance of plant protein without being heavy on the gut. As mentioned, anything too much is never recommended but can a bit of plant protein as part of night meal. 


Nuts 


Polyphenols are a great source of compounds for improving sleep onset latency. This means, if you are trouble falling asleep, polyphenols are your best friend. A great source of polyphenols are found in Hazelnuts, pecans, pistachio and walnuts. A good balance of walnuts in your daily diet can improve your sleep significantly. 


Milk


The age-old remedy for sleep has been a warm cup of milk at night. This is actually not just a folk remedy but has scientific evidence to it. This is due to the blending of protein in cow’s milk called ‘caesin’ with the digestive enzyme typsin into tryptic hydrolysate which tends to enhance sleep and relieve stress. While adding turmeric in milk doesn’t necessarily prove to be a sleep aid but can be a good anti-inflammatory boost. Anything that could give us the best aid for overall health is good isn’t it? 


Tea


And finally the age old sleep remedy that has been shown to improve the sleepiness and the quality of a sound sleep is ‘herbal tea’. Not any herbal tea would work as some tea can have a reverse effect on sleep quality. The most well-understood and widely studied is Chamomile tea and lavender tea. These two tea have been proven to increase the sleep by aiding as a sedation without being addicted to the tea. This is due to the component in Chamomile tea called ‘apigenin’ which aids in sleep. And lavender tea on the other hand has a calming effect on the nervous system by increasing the dopamine and decreasing the cortisol levels (i.e., stress hormones). So enjoy a glass before bed to sleep well. 


Hoping this article could enable you to choose your diet wisely and also, I hope you learnt a lot more about sleep. 


Please Book a Session with sleep coach to know more about your sleep.


Good night! 


References 


Binks, H., E. Vincent, G., Gupta, C., Irwin, C., & Khalesi, S. (2020). Effects of diet on sleep: a narrative review. Nutrients, 12(4), 936.

Boozari, B., Saneei, P., & Safavi, S. M. (2021). Association between sleep duration and sleep quality with sugar and sugar-sweetened beverages intake among university students. Sleep and Breathing, 25, 649-656.

Chang, S. M., & Chen, C. H. (2016). Effects of an intervention with drinking chamomile tea on sleep quality and depression in sleep disturbed postnatal women: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of advanced nursing, 72(2), 306-315.

Godos, J., Ferri, R., Castellano, S., Angelino, D., Mena, P., Del Rio, D., ... & Grosso, G. (2020). Specific dietary (poly) phenols are associated with sleep quality in a cohort of Italian adults. Nutrients, 12(5), 1226.

Komada, Y., Okajima, I., & Kuwata, T. (2020). The effects of milk and dairy products on sleep: a systematic review. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(24), 9440.

Naidoo, N. (2009). Cellular stress/the unfolded protein response: relevance to sleep and sleep disorders. Sleep medicine reviews, 13(3), 195-204.

Peuhkuri, K., Sihvola, N., & Korpela, R. (2012). Diet promotes sleep duration and quality. Nutrition research, 32(5), 309-319.

St-Onge, M. P., Mikic, A., & Pietrolungo, C. E. (2016). Effects of diet on sleep quality. Advances in nutrition, 7(5), 938-949.

Vlahoyiannis, A., Giannaki, C. D., Sakkas, G. K., Aphamis, G., & Andreou, E. (2021). A systematic review, meta-analysis and meta-regression on the effects of carbohydrates on sleep. Nutrients, 13(4), 1283.

Weinstein, N. D. (1980). Unrealistic optimism about future life events. Journal of personality and social psychology, 39(5), 806.




Tags: diet , good sleep , sleep

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