- Sleeping for six to eight hours is important for all adults
- Sleeping lesser for even one day can make you go into sleep debt
- Avoid heavy meals before bed time to sleep well at night
Sleeping well is considered to be one of the most important aspects to being healthy. Experts are of the belief that being sleep-deprived for even one day can make you go into sleep debt. A good night's sleep spanning six to eight hours is important for all adults. The amount of sleep you need can vary depending on your body type, the amount of physical activity that you do and your overall lifestyle. Many people struggle getting a good sleep at night and we are here to help.
Ever thought there can be a deep connection between the food you eat and the quality of sleep you have? Yes, your food choices can directly affect your sleep quality or duration. Here's a quick nutrient guide for you to beat those insomniac nights.
Nutrients that can help you sleep well
1. Serotonin: Serotonin is a type of neurotransmitter that is involved in the modulation of sleep. It is also known as the happy chemical because it is closely related to well-being and happiness. An imbalance in serotonin can lead to depression and sleep imbalances. Foods that help to boost your serotonin levels include- eggs, tofu, salmon, cheese, and pineapples.
2. Potassium: Potassium is a natural mineral found in your body. It is associated with reduced night-time awakenings and providing a deeper sleep. The deficiency of potassium is also related to mood disorders and fatigue. Dietary potassium is naturally found in bananas, cantaloupes, prunes, raisins, and dates.
3. Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 is a type of essential fatty acid that your body cannot produce on its own and should get from external dietary sources. Omega-3 is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties especially for brain and heart health, but a growing body of research has shown that these fatty acids are also linked with better sleep quality in adults as well as children. These are found in fatty fish, walnuts, flax seeds, olive oil, and chia seeds.
4. Magnesium: Magnesium is a mineral that is essential for sleep regulation. The body does not produce magnesium on its own and therefore should get it from external dietary sources. Individuals with low magnesium tend to have restless periods of sleep. Magnesium helps in inducing quality sleep by supporting a neurotransmitter (GABA) that promotes sleep. It is found in spinach, cocoa, pumpkin seeds, almonds, Swiss chard, and avocados.
5. Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone that is closely associated with the sleep-wake cycle. It is produced by your body naturally usually at night after 9 PM. As the levels of melatonin rise in your blood, you start feeling sleepy and drowsy which is your body's natural cycle. Bright light can directly inhibit the secretion of melatonin. The deficiency of melatonin can severely affect the sleep cycle and can give rise to insomnia. In fact, melatonin is often prescribed as a supplement to promote better sleep. Melatonin secretion can be boosted by regular consumption of whole grains (wheat, rye, barley, oats, quinoa, and brown rice), nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and cashews), mustard seeds, soybean, eggs, and fish.
Food and sleep go hand-in-hand. Avoid the following foods that may disrupt sleep:
- Caffeine-containing foods (tea, coffee) before bedtime
- Foods high in saturated fats (fried, oily foods)
- Heavy meals before bedtime
- Sugary treats or desserts
A good quality sleep is a necessity for everyone and it should definitely not be seen as a luxury. Apart from including these nutrients in your diet, make sure you exercise regularly and stay away from electronic gadgets at least an hour before you hit your bed.
(Nmami Agarwal is nutritionist at Nmami Life)
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