Eating for Better Sleep: How certain foods and nutrients can help promote better sleep and how poor sleep habits can impact overall health.
As a nutritionist, I often get asked about the best foods and nutrients for improving sleep. Sleep is an essential aspect of overall health and wellbeing, and a lack of it can have significant impacts on both physical and mental health.
Studies have shown that certain foods and nutrients can have a positive effect on sleep quality, while others can negatively impact it. Additionally, poor sleep habits such as irregular sleep schedules and exposure to electronic devices before bedtime can also contribute to sleep disturbances.
In this blog, we’ll explore the connection between food and sleep and provide some tips for eating for better sleep.
Foods and Nutrients That Can Promote Better Sleep
Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. It’s produced naturally in the body but can also be found in certain foods such as cherries, kiwis, and walnuts. Consuming these foods can help promote the natural production of melatonin in the body, leading to better sleep.
Tryptophan: Tryptophan is an amino acid that’s essential for the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in regulating sleep. Foods rich in tryptophan include turkey, chicken, eggs, nuts, and seeds. Consuming these foods can help increase the production of serotonin, leading to better sleep.
Magnesium: Magnesium is a mineral that’s essential for many bodily functions, including muscle and nerve function. It also plays a role in regulating sleep by promoting relaxation and reducing stress. Foods rich in magnesium include leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 is important for the production of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and melatonin, which are involved in regulating sleep. Foods rich in vitamin B6 include chickpeas, salmon, tuna, and potatoes.
Calcium: Calcium is important for muscle function, and low levels of calcium have been linked to sleep disturbances. Foods rich in calcium include dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified cereals.
Foods and Habits That Can Negatively Impact Sleep
Caffeine: Caffeine is a stimulant that can interfere with sleep. It’s found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and many soft drinks. Consuming caffeine too close to bedtime can make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Alcohol: While alcohol can initially make you feel drowsy, it can also disrupt sleep later in the night. It can lead to more frequent awakenings and reduce the overall quality of sleep.
Heavy, Spicy, or Fatty Meals: Eating a heavy, spicy, or fatty meal close to bedtime can make it difficult to fall asleep. These types of foods can cause indigestion, heartburn, and discomfort, which can keep you up at night.
Irregular Sleep Schedule: Irregular sleep schedules can disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, making it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Try to establish a regular sleep schedule and stick to it as closely as possible.
Electronic Devices: Exposure to electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers can interfere with sleep. The blue light emitted by these devices can suppress the production of melatonin, making it difficult to fall asleep.
Eating for better sleep involves consuming foods and nutrients that promote relaxation and regulate the sleep-wake cycle, while also avoiding foods and habits that can interfere with sleep. By making these small changes, you can improve the quality of your sleep and reap the many benefits that come with a good night’s rest. If you continue to experience sleep disturbances despite making these changes, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying health issues.
If you're struggling with sleep issues, incorporating these tips into your lifestyle can certainly help. However, if you're still experiencing sleep disturbances, it may be time to seek professional guidance. At Dr Sumaiya's NutriCare Clinic, we offer personalized nutrition counseling and support to help you optimize your health and wellbeing. So if you're ready to take control of your sleep and overall health, schedule an appointment today by registering here: