As a general guideline, having a balanced diet is essential to a refreshing night’s sleep and eating too much fatty food too close to bedtime can lead to indigestions and heartburn. Once asleep, your body will also find it more difficult to burn the calories which were in your dinner, as your metabolism will slow down during the night.
When we’re sleep deprived, the production of the hunger hormone (Ghrelin) is increased, and Leptin - the hormone that tells us when we are full - is decreased. This makes us feel more hungry and therefore more likely to over eat. Not only this, but when we’re tired we don’t crave healthy food, we reach for the junk food that gives us a quick fix. A recent study revealed that sleep deprived people can consume an extra 385 calories every single day! It goes without saying that this can contribute towards obesity and even type 2 diabetes.
Make sure you eat at least 3 times a day:
Make sure you eat both Breakfast and Lunch to ensure you don’t over indulge during dinner. If you are a tea, coffee or sugar lover, you should make sure your last indulging caffeinated drink is taken before 2pm, regardless of how tiring your day has been. Caffeine is a stimulant, whose effects, in some people, can last for a number of hours. Caffeine can take up to 30 mines to ‘kick in’ and it only provides a short-term boost to alertness, so it cannot overcome excessive sleepiness or relieve a sleep debt.
Pork, cheese, aubergines, tomatoes and potatoes all contain an amino acid called ‘Tyramine’ which stimulates the brain. Alcohol works on the same receptors as sleeping tablets and so in moderation it may help you fall asleep. The problems associated with alcohol come later in the night; the headache caused by dehydration, the need to visit the bathroom and the disturbed and restless sleep because of feeling hot as you are burning off all the excess calories consumed. Reduce your alcohol intake, consuming 2 glasses of wine has the same effect as losing 2 hours of sleep. These things are to be avoided in your diet if you are looking for a refreshing night’s sleep.
Foods you should capitalise on:
Nutrients promoting sleep, such as Calcium, Magnesium, Iron, Copper and Zinc can be found in foods such as yoghurt, milk, oat, bananas, eggs, peanuts, tuna or spinach.
You can also eat a controlled portion of some carbohydrates in the evening, which is actually recommended, unlike what most health-conscious people think. Jasmine rice will be your best friend as it contains an amino acid called ‘Tryptophan’, which contributes to trigger sleep in the brain.
You may wish to take the TweakSleep challenge to look at ways to improve your sleep.