We Indians are Tea-holics. For us happiness is eating piping hot pakoras and dipping biscuit in tea. And we can’t hold ourselves back from this joy at anytime of the day, even night.
Bad news is, certain foods like our beloved tea, coffee and pakoras are not the ideal foods for night time. These heart and soul foods are actually sleep-stealers, that apparently negatively affect your sleep quality.
Let’s understand foods that are sleep-promoters and sleep-stealers.
Worst Foods for Sleep
If this is you by the end o the night, then probably want avoid these foods:
Caffeine-rich foods: Caffeine triggers your brain to be more active. So, having a caffeinated drink might be a good idea if you are going to take a test but just before sleep is a NO-NO! This includes coffee, tea, and dark chocolate too. All of these have high caffeine content that can hamper your sleep.
Alcohol: Contrary to popular belief and as shown in Bollywood movies that alcohol aids sleep, it actually disturbs your sleep pattern. Also, the calming effect of alcohol usually wears off in a few hours. So, you may end up waking up in the middle of the night and then spend sleepless hours!
Foods with high water content: Avoid eating watermelon or similar fruits at night. These are natural diuretics and eating this may result in you frequenting the bathroom more at night. Now who wants to step out from their cozy blanket and spoil the night.
Spicy food, oily food, and food high in protein: Eating these kinds of food just before sleep has a lot of disadvantages. Firstly, spicy and oily foods can cause heartburn and acid reflux which is not good for the digestive system. Secondly, digesting these kinds of foods needs more energy. So, the body invests its energies in digesting rather than aiding sleep. So, it’s better to eat the above-mentioned foods at least 3-4 hours before bedtime and give your body some break to digest it well before sleeping.
Best Foods for Sleep
If you want to sleep like a baby, gorge on these foods!
Wheat, rice, peanuts, apples, cashews, almonds, turkey, chicken: These foods are high in an amino acid called tryptophan. Tryptophan is a sleep inducer but the way it works is a little complicated. Our body converts tryptophan into Niacin which is a B-vitamin. Niacin creates serotonin which triggers the sleep mode in our body.
Banana, soybean, mackerel, tuna, dark green leafy vegetables, low-fat yogurt: These foods are rich in magnesium. Magnesium is also called the sleep mineral. This mineral is a natural relaxant because it deactivates adrenaline. It also helps maintain adequate levels of GABA (a neurotransmitter that aids sleep).
Milk, cheese, broccoli, okra, sardines: These are Calcium-rich foods. Calcium helps the brain make melatonin. What is the connection between melatonin and sleep, you may ask? Melatonin is the hormone that tells your body when it is time to sleep. Some calcium-rich foods also contain tryptophan. So, a combination of both tryptophan and melatonin is perfect to induce sleep.
Sunflower seeds, pistachio nuts, dried prunes, spinach: These foods are rich in Vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 also helps convert tryptophan into serotonin and melatonin which induces sleep.
So, now that we know the good, the bad and the ugly foods for sleep, why stop the midnight snacking in bed. Go on, make the most of this new found knowledge. Watch your favorite movie, snack right and sleep well on a sleepycat mattress!