According to the National Sleep Foundation, a good night's sleep is as essential to the human body as oxygen, food, and water. Although most people may lack sleep, some people are more likely to have trouble sleeping due to a condition known as insomnia. As studies show, this problem is more common among seniors since falling asleep becomes difficult with age.
You may have tried relaxation techniques or followed an evening routine, but did you know that your diet may also affect your sleep? According to WHO, your eating habits can affect your sleep.
Here are some eating habits that give insomnia
Consuming too many acidic foods: they cause gastric reflux and cause burns in the esophagus especially when sleeping.
Fatty and heavy meals: meals that are too heavy tend to tire the digestive system. Sleep is hard to find when you have stomach cramps or bloated belly.
Skipping dinner: this technique is oftenly used by people who follow a diet too strict. It is not easy to find sleep when you have an empty stomach.
A diet low in vitamins and minerals promotes insomnia because deficiencies cause night cramps.
Dietary habits to fight insomnia
Avoid sleeping pills
Regular use of sleeping pills for insomnia is not recommended because it can lead to addiction and a state that one can not sleep without taking them. Medicinal plants such as chamomile or valerian can be a very interesting alternative to improve sleep.
Avoid sugary foods before bedtime
Sugary foods will wake you up in the wee hours of the morning when the blood sugar drops. Even if you want to choose sweet treats, it is important to avoid them at this late hour. Eating sugar can compromise your sleep because its overdose can wake you up. Choose your snacks wisely; even a fruit, such as grapes, may contain too much sugar. Opting for a snack made from whole grains, such as a small bowl of oatmeal, is a great way to control your appetite without giving your body an overdose of unwanted sugar.
Decrease caffeine intake
If you tend to take two to three cups of coffee a day, you might consider lowering your intake. Caffeine has different effects on each person, but if you have trouble sleeping at night, you could limit yourself to one cup a day. Coffee is not the only drink containing caffeine; tea and soft drinks are sources too. You can consider a caffeine-free drink like a decaf tea made with honey and lemon.
Consume foods rich in melatonin
Melatonin is a sleep hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain and controls the circadian cycle that mediates the alternation between sleep and wake. Darkness stimulates its secretion with a peak around 2 am. On the other hand, daylight blocks its secretion. The best natural sources of melatonin are oats, sweet corn, and rice. Ginger, tomatoes, barley, bananas and Japanese radishes are also good.
You can also increase your intake of tryptophan to boost serotonin and melatonin. Cottage cheese, pumpkin seeds, turkey, chicken and especially soy foods are loaded with tryptophan. Cow's milk, peanuts, almonds and brewer's yeast are other relatively good sources of tryptophan with spirulina being the most potent.