A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP lays the foundation for good health. While a lot of research is underway on why people have problems in sleeping, one of the aspects that have come to light is that ONE’S DIET may be the reason for sleep disorders. While consuming the wrong foods can cause problems, going to bed on an empty stomach can also hinder sleep.
Foods that disturb sleep —– tea, caffeine, other stimulants like soft drinks and alcohol.
Some people have problems with dairy and wheat products as they cause gastro-intestinal problems, congestion and gas.Eating too much of sugary or spicy food, before sleep, can also cause heartburn.
Chewing tobacco or smoking, before bedtime, also hinders sleep.
Everyone responds differently to different meals, with some people reporting that a meal high in whole grains helps them fall asleep, while others swear by a high protein and / or high fat meal. The specific timing of carbohydrate and protein consumption optimises our circadian rhythm (around day) and improves sleep initiation and quality. Dr M. Gayathri, senior nutritionist at Apollo Hospitals, explained, “Those who come with sleep disorders are advised to move carbohydrates from breakfast, lunch and morning snacks to evening. After 4 p.m., the goal is to cut back on protein and emphasise on healthy carbohydrate-rich foods like brown bread, starchy vegetables, whole-grain cereals, seeds, sprouts and fruit. They are also asked to cut down on red meat and heavy foods like biryani as it can create acid reflux and cause insomnia.”
While high-calorie foods is one problem, patients are advised to not sleep hungry, as hunger pangs also disturb sleep Dr. Gayathri added, “If they are comfortable with dairy products, they are suggested to have milk or opt for nutrients such as melatonin, magnesium, potassium and Vitamin D, which play an important role in inducing sleep. The diet should not be less than 1,200 kcal It should also be rich in proteins.
Here are a few dietary tips :
- Try a strong cup of chamomile and / or lemon balm tea —— two hours before bed. Brew for 15 minutes before drinking.
- Avoid tyramine containing foods (bananas, avocado, cheese, sour cream, beer, wine, pickled salamis, liver, caviar, beans) after 5p.m.
- Adopt regular meal times.
- Balance blood sugar by avoiding refined grains or sugar.
- Don’t drink any fluids before 1.5 — 2 hours of going to bed to minimise night urination.
- Spices consumed in evening meals appear to be disruptive to some people, including exacerbated night-time heat intolerance problems which can further disrupt sleep.
- Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.
- Go low on salt. Ninety per cent of the salt comes from packaged foods and only ten per cent from the saltshaker.
Dr. Ramana Prasad Velamuru, consultant pulmonologist respiratory and sleep specialist at Kims Hospital, said, “We often find tired executives or managers eating heavily and going to bed immediately. With time, they develop obesity leading to sleep disordered breathing —– snoring, choking during sleep and dozing off during day-time or even while driving. Such people are also at risk of developing hypertension, diabetes, stroke and heart attacks. Therefore, establish a regular relaxing bedtime routine. Avoid emotionally upsetting conversations or activities.