- Certain types of food and beverage, such as coffee, carbonated drinks and oily foods, can negatively impact our sleep quality. These should therefore be avoided, especially in the evenings.
- Drinking a small glass of warm soy milk – which contains high levels of L-tryptophan amino acids – or warm chamomile tea before bed time can significantly improve sleep quality.
Insomnia can be a result of a number of factors. Most people tend to think of medication as being the best solution for such a condition. However, it’s better to either find a solution for the root cause of the issue, or avoid the factors or aspects causing the insomnia in the first place.
Foods and beverages can negatively impact sleep quality, so the following types should be avoided, especially in the evenings:
- Caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, tea and carbonated drinks
- Alcoholic beverages
- Sweet foods due to the sugar acting as a stimulant to the body and making it difficult to fall asleep
- Consumption of too spicy, too sour, too salty and too fatty foods that are capable of increasing sleep disturbances throughout the night
- Grilled meat or heavy meals, such as a buffet, can make it harder to fall asleep
- Sodium, as it causes blood pressure to rise, resulting in restlessness that makes sleeping difficult. Foods high in sodium include pickled fruits, salted egg, dried shrimp, instant noodles and French fries, while over seasoning of foods with salt or monosodium glutamate has the same affect.
There are numerous sources of nutrients that can aid sleep quality, and which can be included when preparing evening meals, for instance:
- L-tryptophan amino acids and gamma-aminobutyric acid nutrients, abbreviated as GABA, which are found in the neurotransmitters of the central nervous system responsible for providing special assistance in terms of helping us relax and fall asleep. They are most commonly found in rice, whole wheat flour (such as coarse rice, germinated brown rice or rice bran), as well as in taro, potato, sesame, seaweed and milk. For the best results, these foods should be consumed regularly. Moreover, fruits, such as bananas, dates and prunes, are full of L-tryptophan amino acids, which the brain uses to aid the production of serotonin, which then leads to an increase in melatonin production if the body has sufficient amounts available. This melatonin then helps to manage our sleep patterns, making it more efficient by relaxing the body and easing stress, thereby leading to better sleep.
- Melatonin is an important hormone that is directly associated with improved sleep quality. Foods that contain high levels of melatonin include fish, eggs, cherries, and certain types of nut, including walnuts.
- Magnesium is a mineral capable of relaxing muscles and supporting better quality sleep. Various types of nut and green vegetables contain this mineral in high amounts.
- Vitamin B plays a crucial role in serotonin production, which aids relaxation and results in better quality sleep. Dishes that are high in Vitamin B include oatmeal made with fresh milk and bananas, or potato soup.
- Drinking a cup of warm chamomile tea before bed can help you enjoy a better quality of sleep due to this herb belonging to a group referred to as “calming herbs”. Alternatively, drinking a small glass of warm soy milk, which contains large amounts of L-Tryptophan amino acids, before bedtime can also help you fall asleep.
- Drinking decaffeinated green tea can help you to relax, ease stress and aid sleep.
Making slight changes to the way you eat and drink can lead to a better night’s sleep, but if you are still struggling to sleep, it is recommended that you consult your doctor in order to identify the true cause of your insomnia. Such causes could include a number of hormonal factors that result in reduced body function, or numerous health disorders with the potential to negatively affect sleep, such as snoring, sleep apnea or depression.