Having a hard time sleeping comfortably? No matter the cause, melatonin-rich foods like eggs, milk, nuts, etc. can put an end to your trouble. Explore how melatonin affects your sleep cycle and how you can increase its consumption.
Adequate sleep is a key driver of overall health and wellbeing. And for that, in your daily diet, you can include certain foods for better sleep. Why? Your diet plays a major role in determining the quality and duration of your sleep. The foods that help you sleep affect the functioning of your brain and other organs, hormones and your immune system, which in turn affects your sleep pattern. To find out more, read on.
How Foods Affect Your Sleep
Dietary habits, particularly those that are close to your bedtime, might affect your sleep. Hence, it is important that you have your last meal of the day at least 2 to 3 hours before your bedtime. This gives food ample time to get digested and it also regulates your body’s circadian rhythm (the 24-hour cycle that your body follows).
Foods for better sleep also influence the production of certain hormones that control your circadian rhythm. This determines how your body functions, your sleeping time, and your metabolism.
Research suggests that eating foods rich in certain nutrients can influence your sleep pattern. However, if you have any other health condition, seek the advice of a nutritionist or physician first. Some of the nutrients in foods that help you sleep are as follows:
Foods that Help you Sleep Better
Tryptophan:Tryptophan influences the production of serotonin, a chemical that helps in sleep regulation, and melatonin, the sleep hormone. A diet poor in tryptophan leads to impaired sleep. Tryptophan is found in protein-rich foods like milk, eggs, oats, etc. which make them the best foods for sleep. This amino acid is also found in nuts and seeds like sunflower, chia, sesame and pumpkin. You can sprinkle a tablespoon (5g) of these seeds on your salads or smoothies, eat a handful of nuts and banana as a snack, or even make a ladoo out of it. Cheese, tofu, eggs, beans and oats are other food sources rich in tryptophan that can be included in your diet.
B complex vitamins:B complex vitamins also play an important role in the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. You can get these by eating green leafy vegetables (spinach, methi, drumstick leaves, etc), eggs, milk, beans, poultry and Indian salmon (rawas). Methi rotis with egg curry can be an ideal dinner food for better sleep.
Omega-3 and Vitamin D:Omega 3 and Vitamin D influence the production of serotonin, which is also referred to as the happy chemical, and helps regulate our mood and sleep. This can be found in abundance in fish like salmon, and these are among the best foods for sleep. Flaxseeds and chia seeds are rich in omega-3, and egg yolks, mushrooms, and fortified milk are some of the vitamin D-rich foods that can be added to your daily diet. A bowl of mushroom soup along with a salad with mixed seeds sprinkled on it is a wholesome meal that can help stabilise your sleep cycle.
Magnesium:Magnesium is another nutrient that improves your quality of sleep. Many foods that can help you sleep are rich in magnesium, including nuts, beans, seeds, bananas and whole grains like wheat, oats and barley. A fruit salad majorly containing bananas can be a very good snack or can even be enjoyed as a dessert.
Melatonin is a hormone that is produced in the brain and controls sleep. It is also known that foods with melatonin play a significant role in maintaining your circadian rhythm.
Let us look at some foods that influence melatonin production, thus ensuring that you get good quality sleep.
Eggs:Eggs are one of the best foods containing melatonin. Boiled eggs can be an excellent addition to your dinner.
Milk:Apart from melatonin, milk is rich in magnesium and Vitamin B that aid in the availability and efficient utilisation of melatonin. A glass of warm milk at night can help you sleep a lot better.
Nuts:Nuts, especially walnuts, are melatonin-rich foods. Hence, they help in inducing sleep and maintaining effective sleep-wake cycles. They are also one of the most effective and widely available sleep foods in the market. Almonds and pistachios are among the highest sources of melatonin and among the best foods for deep sleep.
Fish:Oily fishes like salmon, tuna and halibut (naraku neen in Tamil) are good foods with melatonin. Salmon/rawas fish fry can be a perfect accompaniment for lunch.
You need to adopt certain habits that help you get good sleep consistently:
- Always maintain a regular sleep schedule.
- Ensure that you follow appropriate meal timings throughout the day.
- Avoid having junk food, caffeinated drinks or spicy foods near bedtime.
- Make sure you get enough daylight exposure and do some exercise during the day.
- Avoid screen time at least an hour before bedtime.
And of course, having a balanced diet with foods for good sleep that are rich in melatonin, tryptophan, Vitamin B complex, magnesium, omega-3 and vitamin D, is essential for maintaining a proper sleep cycle. Sleep and nutrition are interrelated, and together, they make you healthy. Optimal sleep and a balanced diet with foods that make you sleep at night will help maintain your mental and physical wellbeing.