Sleeping well directly affects your mental and physical health and the quality of your waking life. Fall short and it can take a serious toll on your daytime energy, productivity, emotional balance, and even your weight. Yet many of us regularly toss and turn at night, struggling to get the sleep we need. There is a solution. Making simple but important changes to your daytime routine and bedtime habits can have a profound impact on how well you sleep, leaving you feeling mentally sharp, emotionally balanced, and full of energy all day long.
Sleep is one of the great mysteries of life. Like gravity or the quantum field, we still don't understand exactly why we sleep—although we are learning more about it every day. We do know, however, that good sleep is one of the cornerstones of health. Six to eight hours per night seems to be the optimal amount of sleep for most adults, and too much or too little can have adverse effects on your health.
Sleep deprivation is such a chronic condition these days that you might not even realize you suffer from it. Science has now established that a sleep deficit can have serious, far-reaching effects on your health.
Interrupted or impaired sleep can:
- Dramatically weaken your immune system
- Accelerate tumor growth—tumors grow two to three times faster in laboratory animals with severe sleep dysfunctions
- Cause a pre-diabetic state, making you feel hungry even if you've already eaten, which can wreak havoc on your weight
- Seriously impair your memory; even a single night of poor sleep—meaning sleeping only 4 to 6 hours—can impact your ability to think clearly the next day
- Impair your performance on physical or mental tasks, and decrease your problem-solving ability
How can you get a better night’s sleep?
Getting a good night’s sleep may seem like an impossible goal when you’re wide awake at 3 a.m., but you have much more control over the quality of your sleep than you probably realize. Just as how you feel during your waking hours often hinges on how well you sleep at night, so the cure for sleep difficulties can often be found in your daily routine.
Unhealthy daytime habits and lifestyle choices can leave you tossing and turn at night and adversely affect your mood, brain and heart health, immune system, creativity, vitality, and weight. But by experimenting with the following tips to find the ones that work best for you, you can enjoy better sleep at night, improve your mental and physical health, and improve how you think and feel during the day.
Here's a guide on how to eat & drink the right things for a good night of sleep:
Best foods and drinks for a good night sleep:
Besides being rich in antioxidants, carotenoids, and vitamins C and E, it also contains a familiar hormone, serotonin. This sleep hormone is related to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and its low levels may cause insomnia. Similarly, kiwi is rich in folate, and insomnia is one of the health issues that is a symptom of folate deficiency.
2. Passionflower Tea
What ailment can't be solved with a cup of tea? At least not sleeplessness! Many herbal teas offer sedative effects through their flavones, flavonoids, and resins. For starters, passionflower tea has the flavone chrysin, which has wonderful anti-anxiety benefits and is mild sedative, helping you calm nervousness so you can sleep at night.
3. Lemon Balm Tea
Another relaxing tea is lemon balm tea. A study found that lemon balm serves as a natural sedative, and researchers reported that they observed reduced levels of sleep disorders among subjects using lemon balm versus those who were given a placebo.
Yet another reason to love this versatile food. With its long list of sleep-inducing nutrients, spinach is an insomniac's best friend. Not only is it a source of tryptophan, the green is an excellent source of folate, magnesium, and vitamins B6 and C, which are all key co-factors in synthesizing serotonin, and subsequently, melatonin. Spinach also contains glutamine, an amino acid which stimulates the body to get rid of the cellular toxins that lead to sleeplessness. When it comes to cooking spinach, avoid the flame. Heat breaks down glutamine as well as vitamins C and B, so it’s best to eat spinach raw.
Sleep is a huge part of making any diet and exercise plan work, as it allows your body to process and recovers from all the sweat and breakdown of muscle. And cherries are the perfect fruit for the job.
Cherries act as a natural sleep aid thanks to their melatonin content, a naturally produced hormone that signals to our bodies that it's time for bed. So enjoy a cup of cherries for dessert—they'll help you maintain your toned physique by replacing less virtuous desserts and moving along your snooze process.
6. Cereal and Skim Milk
Although it's traditionally considered a breakfast option, a low-sugar cereal paired with skim milk is a perfect bedtime snack. Milk contains the amino acid tryptophan, which serves as a precursor for the hormone serotonin, a sleep-inducing agent.
Because they're an excellent source of both potassium and magnesium, bananas can put your body into a sleepy state by helping with muscle relaxation. In a study, magnesium had a positive effect on the quality of sleep in older adults with insomnia by extending the time they spent sleeping in bed and making it easier to wake up. Bananas also contain tryptophan, the precursor to calming and sleep-regulating hormones serotonin and melatonin.
Worst foods and drinks to take before sleeping:
1. Coffee and Soda
Caffeine can stimulate the central nervous system several hours after consuming it. Caffeine's stimulating effects can last anywhere from 8 to 14 hours, so make sure to keep your sleep in mind when you're thinking about the timing of your cup of coffee or afternoon diet soda. It is recommended to lay off around 8 hours before planning to hit the hay.
Like coffee, dark chocolate also contains caffeine, which can increase arousal, prevent your body from shutting down, and decrease your ability to develop and sustain deeper stages of sleep. Chocolate bars have varying amounts of caffeine, but an average 2-ounce, 70 percent dark chocolate bar contains around 79 milligrams—over half of what's in an 8-ounce cup of coffee. If you know you're sensitive to caffeine, but don't want to ditch the dark chocolate completely, try savoring your sweet treat earlier on in the night or cutting down on portions.
That nightcap might be doing the opposite of its intention. While a late-night glass of wine can help relax you and help you fall asleep faster, it actually prevents your body from fully indulging in its REM (Rapid Eye Movement) cycle, which is where truly restful sleep and dreaming occurs. Research shows that drinking alcohol before bed can make you more likely to wake up throughout the night and diminishes the quality of sleep. Alcohol can also lead to snoring since it is a potent muscle relaxer.
4. Fatty Foods
We're talking about the usual suspects here, like burgers, loaded burritos, and ice cream sundaes. These high-fat foods take longer to digest, which will keep your body up working rather than relaxing. Fatty foods "often cause bloating and indigestion that interferes with a sound night's rest. This leads to a more fragmented sleep, so you wake up the next morning without feeling refreshed.
5. Green Tea
We are huge fans of fat-incinerating green tea, but make sure to taper off several hours before bedtime, at the least. On top of caffeine, green tea contains two other stimulants, called theobromine and theophylline, which can cause increased heart rate, feelings of nervousness, and overall anxiety.
6. Dried Fruit
Consuming too much of a high-fiber food like dried fruit can bother your stomach and cause you to have gas and cramps during the night. They are high in fiber and low in water content.
You might want to rethink having that tall glass of H2O on your bedside table—unless you're saving it for the morning. Yes, you should drink plenty of water during the day to stay hydrated. In fact, even slight dehydration can significantly drain your energy levels. But if you drink too much right before bed, you may find yourself awakening multiple times to urinate. Instead, start to taper off your fluid intake about three hours before bedtime.
Having a good night of sleep is mandatory in maintaining a healthy life. But to have a good night sleep, you have food and drinks that you need to consider and avoid. In this post, I shared with you a guide on how to eat & drink the right things for a good night of sleep.
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