Getting a good night’s sleep is important for your immune system, to reduce inflammation and chronic pain; sleep is important for brain health and focus; overall regeneration and healing of your tissues.

If you are not getting enough good quality night sleep, it can lead to major illnesses. Lack of sleep equals stress on the body, which leads to weight gain, premature aging, hair loss, hormone imbalances, infertility, and lowered immune function. Getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night can triple your risk of cold or flu and a number of other chronic illnesses.
This knowledge how lifestyle and diet impacts sleep, could be huge for preventing metabolic irregularities, cardiovascular disease, and premature death, the researchers say, given how many people suffer from compromised sleep quality and duration.
In order to get a good night sleep you have to be careful what you eat and when. The link between what we eat and how we sleep is closely related. If you are consuming too many carbohydrates, especially at night, it can affect your sleep.
For best sleep, it is better to stop eating at least 4 hours before bedtime, and preferably by 6pm every night.
If you’re a coffee drinker, reduce your caffeine intake gradually. Try decaffeinated coffee or caffeine-free drinks. Have your last caffeine-containing drink no later than 2pm.
If you have hormonal imbalance or wake up tired in the morning, this is a warning sign of fluctuations of insulin. Sleep impacts how your body handles insulin, the hormone that controls your blood glucose (sugar) level. Sleep deficiency results in a higher than normal blood sugar level, which can lead to many serious problems. In order to get your insulin balanced, your evening meal should include proteins, healthy fats and fiber rich foods.
Recommended diet for good night sleep:
  • Healthy fats. Eating healthy fats with our meals can play a vital role in helping us sleep better and achieve greater health, as these provide the basic building blocks for cholesterol production and hormones. The best fats to eat are nutrient rich foods like eggs, natural butter, salmon, sardines, shrimp, cod liver oil, avocados and coconut oil.
  • Protein. Protein is an essential nutrient needed for energy and muscle growth. Eating enough protein at dinner helps prepare the body to enter the sleep cycle. Duck meat is exceptionally high in lean protein (52 grams of protein in a 7-8 oz); skinless chicken and fish (halibut, sockeye salmon, haddock and rockfish) are rich sources of dietary protein.
  • Fiber rich foods. Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep – the more you eat, the better you sleep. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from lentils, beans, avocados, split peas, artichokes, figs, bran cereal and quinoa.
  • Foods that support melatonin production (a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness). Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boast vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin. Studies show that melatonin-rich tart cherry juice helps sleep. When adults with chronic insomnia drank a cup of tart cherry juice twice a day, they experienced some relief in the severity of their insomnia.
  • Magnesium. The classical sign of magnesium deficiency is insomnia characterized by falling asleep easily, but awakening frequently throughout the night, with individuals finding themselves tired even after several hours of sleep. Consuming too little magnesium may make it harder to stay asleep. Bulgur, barley and other whole grains; spinach, pumpkin seeds, avocado, bananas, dark chocolate, almonds.
  • Calcium. Some researches suggest that being calcium deficient may make it difficult to fall asleep. Calcium rich foods – yogurt, green leafy vegetables, such as kale and collards, almonds, etc.
  • Foods high in tryptophan. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid needed for general growth and development, producing niacin and creating serotonin in the body. Serotonin is thought to produce healthy sleep and a stable mood which is why tryptophan in turkey is sometimes attributed to making people sleepy. The truth, however, is that lots of other foods contain more tryptophan than turkey and do not cause drowsiness. High tryptophan foods include nuts and seeds (chia, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, pistachio nuts, cashew, almonds), cheese, red meat, chicken, turkey, fish, oats, beans, lentils, and eggs. The recommended daily intake for tryptophan is 4mg per kilogram of body weight.
Foods to avoid for better sleep:
  • Sugars and carbohydrates, especially at night, can cause a blood sugar spike and crash that will lead to difficulty falling or staying asleep. Many people crave carbohydrates (chocolate, anyone?) in the evening, which is a sign of an underlying hormone problem to begin with but eating carbohydrates late at night can cause problems falling asleep or lead to waking in the middle of the night when blood sugar levels drop.
  • Grains. By definition, a “whole grain” contains all parts of the seed, while refined grains often have the bran or germ removed, leaving just the highly starchy endosperm. Whole grains can be a source of nutrients like b-vitamins, magnesium and others, refined grains have most of these beneficial parts removed. And if you have an intolerance to grains, this can cause physical stress in your body, which alters the hormone cycle and can impede sleep.
  • Vegetable oils/ margarine. Vegetable oils (and margarine, made from these oils) are oils extracted from seeds like the rapeseed (canola oil) soybean (soybean oil), corn, sunflower, safflower, etc. These artificial fats can cause problems in new skin formation (skin cancer) they can cause problems in the hormone cycle, as hormones need (saturated) fats for production and giving the body the wrong building blocks for hormones can wreak havoc with hormone production. Unlike butter or coconut oil, these vegetable oils can’t be extracted just by pressing or separating naturally. They must be chemically removed, deodorized, and altered. These are some of the most chemically altered foods in our diets, yet they get promoted as healthy.
  • Alcohol. While you might find a glass of wine helps you fall asleep faster, alcohol also contributes to poor quality sleep later. A night on the booze will most likely cause you to sleep deeper during the first part of the night, but later on the chances are you will be more restless than usual. This is known as the rebound effect, and is the reason why drinkers often find themselves wide awake in the early hours of the morning (3-4pm).

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