Sleep is an essential tool for your body, and it is vital for overall body health. For most of us, it is so much fun to go through our to-do list by the end of the day and see how well we have completed all tasks stated for the day. We pay so much attention to being active that most of us forget how important good and consistent sleep is. Having a good sleep reduces your risk of having a chronic disease, keeps your brain and nervous system healthy, and enhances your immune system. Healthwise, it is generally accepted for you to have between 7 to 9 hours of good, uninterrupted sleep per 24 hours.
Embracing good sleep hygiene can go a long way in getting you to have a good quality sleep every night (and prevent talking in your sleep). This sleep hygiene can be easily incorporated into your daily nightly routines, which helps it become habitual for you over time. However, while there are many personal sleep hygiene practices out there, sparse attention is usually put into our dietary choices, especially when it comes to the subject of sleep.
The general importance of food can no longer be overemphasized as we all have the proficient knowledge of what food does to our daily living. Having the right food in the right proportion provides us with the necessary energy needed to complete our various daily activities, strength, repairs of bones and tissues, growth and development, and other cognitive functions. However, healthy eating seems to be so unpopular when it comes to the subject of good and quality sleep. Therefore, in this article, we have given an excellent exposition on how your dietary choices can powerfully impact your regular night sleep and the specific types of food that will play a decisive role.
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Significant Substances that Promotes Good Sleep
Numerous chemicals, amino acids, nutrients, hormones, and enzymes interact together in your body to ensure that you have a good sleep and regulate your sleep cycle. Some of these substances include tryptophan, melatonin, serotonin, acetylcholine, folate, antioxidants, vitamin D, and B vitamins, zinc, copper, pyridoxine, and many more. For the sake of this article, we would be discussing the four significant vitamins and minerals found in food and can enhance sleep.
- Vitamin B6
Tryptophan is an amino acid that, upon ingestion, is broken down into serotonin (a neurotransmitter), then converted into the hormone melatonin. These are a few of the best foods rich in tryptophan:
Fruits such as apples, avocados, bananas
Seafood such as shrimp, sardines, tuna, salmon
Legumes such as black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, lima beans
Poultry such as turkey
Dairy products such as cheese, milk, low-fat yogurt
Nuts and seeds such as flax, sesame, walnuts, cashew, sunflower
Grains such as rice, corn oats, barley
Vegetables such as onions, seaweeds, asparagus, broccoli, spinach
Magnesium, also known as sleep mineral is a natural relaxant that plays a crucial role in deactivating adrenaline, thereby, preparing the body for a more resting phase. The deficiency of magnesium in the body is often associated with difficulty staying asleep. Here are a few good sources of magnesium:
Fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna
Vegetables such as spinach, kale
Nuts and seeds such as cashews, pecans, flaxseed, Brazil nuts
Dairy products such as low fat-yogurt
Fruit such as banana, avocado
Vitamin B6 is a vital vitamin that helps in converting the amino acid, tryptophan, and melatonin. Lack of vitamin B6 has been linked with reduced serotonin levels, which result in poor sleep. Vitamin B6 is also vital in eliminating the risk of insomnia. Here are some rich sources of vitamin B6: Sunflower, flaxseed, avocados, bananas, spinach, chicken, lean pork and beef, tuna, salmon, and so on.
This another essential mineral that helps your brain to secrete melatonin. Deficiency in calcium can cause you to wake up in the middle of your sleep and find it difficult to return to sleep. Foods that are rich in calcium have been shown to help patients suffering from insomnia. Here are some sources of calcium: Okra, broccoli, soybeans, sardines, yogurt, cheese, low-fat milk, fortified orange juice.
Most of the minerals and vitamins stated above helps the body in the production, converting serotonin into a specific hormone called melatonin. However, melatonin can be found, occurring naturally in some foods:
Grains such as barley, rice oats
Fruit such as corn, grapes, cucumber, pomegranate
Vegetables such as broccoli, asparagus, tomatoes
Nuts and Seeds such as peanuts, walnuts, flaxseed, sunflower
Melatonin is the hormone responsible for maintaining your circadian rhythm (sleep and wake patterns). When you are close to bedtime, melatonin is spontaneously secreted to help with your sleep while its secretion is reversibly dwindled to allow you to be awake and set for the day.
Some Foods that Enhances Your Sleep Quality
Fatty fish is known for its highly productive vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acid helps to protect against heart disease and also enhances brain health. Studies have shown that a 100-gram serving of salmon can produce 50% of your daily needs of vitamin D. Furthermore, the combined effect of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish possesses excellent potential to improve the quality of your sleep. They both enhance the secretion of serotonin.
White rice is a diet rich in carbs and low in fiber. Its high carb content and lack of fiber improve its glycemic index (a measure of how fast a food increases your blood sugar). Studies have shown that consuming foods with a high glycemic index a few hours before bedtime may improve the quality of your sleep.
Almonds are nuts that are said to contain the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin naturally. Also, almonds are a vibrant source of magnesium, which helps to enhance sleep due to its relaxation potential as well as its ability to reduce the secretion of cortisol (stress hormone).
Turkey is a rich source of protein and tryptophan, both of which can induce sleep by causing tiredness and secreting melatonin, respectively. Few studies have shown that taking a considerable amount of protein before bedtime enhances the quality of your sleep.
Here are some other foods that will improve the quality of your sleep:
- Chamomile tea
- Kiwi fruit
- Passionflower tea
- Warm milk
- Tart cherries
- Lettuce and lettuce seed oil
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Finally, if you have been suffering from having difficulty sleeping, you can start practicing excellent sleep hygiene and also learn to make excellent dietary choices that will enhance the quality of your sleep. These practices will improve your sleep quality and make you very refreshed for the next day’s activities. However, if your sleeping problems persist after practicing this hygiene, we recommend that you see a physician.
“Each time I go to sleep, I die. And the next morning, when I wake up, I’m reborn.”