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Sleep Better by Eating Right

Do you often find yourself tossing and turning at night, unable to get a good night's sleep? Or perhaps you wake up feeling groggy and unrefreshed, no matter how many hours you've spent in bed? The quality of your sleep plays a crucial role in your overall health and well-being, impacting everything from your energy levels and mood to your weight and immune function.


The Importance of Quality Sleep


Quality sleep is essential for several reasons:

  • Rest and recovery: During sleep, your body undergoes maintenance and repair processes crucial for your overall health.

  • Optimal functioning: Adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night for peak performance, regardless of how much you think you can get by with.

  • Health and vitality: Sleep is as important to your health as eating right and exercising, influencing everything from your skin and emotions to your risk of disease and longevity.



Consequences of Poor Sleep


Poor sleep can have numerous negative effects on your health. It is only whilst we sleep that detoxification of the brain occurs. Think what happens if we take the garbage out every night but the garbage removal van never collects it. This results in toxins not being properly flushed out of the brain resulting in numerous adverse health issues as a result.


Some of the consequences of poor sleep include:

  • Reduced concentration, creativity, and productivity.

  • Dark circles under the eyes and irritability.

  • Increased stress hormone levels leading to overeating and weight gain.

  • Thyroid and insulin imbalances, increasing the risk of metabolic disorders.

  • Increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.

  • Increases production of the hunger hormone ghrelin and decreases production of leptin - the satiety hormone.

  • Elevated risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.


Benefits of Good Sleep


On the other hand, prioritising good sleep can lead to numerous health benefits, including:

  • Improved skin health and emotional balance.

  • Reduced risk of disease and enhanced immunity.

  • Stronger bones, reduced pain, and balanced hormones.

  • Weight loss as a positive consequence of better sleep quality.

  • Enhanced memory, cognitive function, and longevity.


Instead of viewing sleep as an obstacle or chore, start seeing it as a treat and essential self-care practice. Make sleep a non-negotiable part of your routine by scheduling it in your calendar and prioritising it over other activities.


Boost Serotonin & Melatonin Naturally


Serotonin, the "happy" hormone and precursor to melatonin, is crucial for regulating sleep-wake cycles. 95% of serotonin comes from the digestive tract so what you eat plays an important role in managing serotonin production.


You can increase serotonin levels by consuming tryptophan-rich foods such as:

  • Eggs

  • Cheese

  • Turkey

  • Nuts & seeds

  • Salmon

  • Tofu

  • Pineapple



Melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep, is naturally secreted in response to lower light levels, signalling the body that it's time to wind down. However, our modern lifestyle often exposes us to artificial light well into the evening, disrupting this natural process. To counteract this, creating a dark sleep environment by dimming lights and avoiding screens with blue or white light before bedtime can help boost melatonin production and improve sleep quality.


On the other hand, exposure to natural light, particularly in the morning, also triggers the production of serotonin. The amount of sunlight received through eye sensors determines how much serotonin is produced, and vitamin D plays a role in activating genes responsible for serotonin release. By prioritising time outdoors during daylight hours and limiting screen time, especially before bed, we can support our body's natural sleep-wake cycle and promote overall well-being.


Foods to Avoid


Certain foods and drinks can disrupt our sleep patterns and make it difficult to get a restful night's sleep.


  • Caffeine, found in coffee, tea, chocolate, and some sodas, interferes with sleep by blocking adenosine receptors in the brain and increasing cortisol levels. Therefore, setting a caffeine curfew and avoiding stimulants in the afternoon and evening can promote better sleep.

  • Consuming high-sugar or high-fat foods close to bedtime can lead to fluctuations in blood sugar levels, making it difficult to fall and stay asleep throughout the night.

  • Spicy or acidic foods may also cause discomfort and heartburn, disrupting sleep.


Being mindful of food choices, especially in the hours before bedtime, is crucial for promoting better sleep quality and overall health.


Alcohol and Sleep


While alcohol may initially induce sleepiness, it disrupts the sleep cycle by reducing rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and increasing awakenings during the night. Over time, frequent alcohol consumption can contribute to insomnia, daytime fatigue, and other sleep disturbances, ultimately impacting both physical and mental well-being. Therefore, limiting or avoiding alcohol intake, particularly close to bedtime, is essential for promoting optimal sleep health.



Remember, when considering food choices for better sleep, as is the case with overall health in general, aim for meals containing at least one protein source, plenty of vegetables, and moderate carbohydrate intake to support balanced nutrition and promote restful sleep.


Manage Stress and Cortisol Levels


Chronic stress can disrupt your body's cortisol rhythm, leading to high cortisol levels at night and poor sleep quality. Practice stress management techniques like meditation, mindfulness, and deep breathing to promote relaxation and better sleep.


Start Improving Your Sleep Today


By making simple lifestyle and dietary changes, you can enhance your overall health and well-being. Take action today to reclaim your sleep and experience the benefits of quality rest.

 

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