How many times have you heard it being said or read that we need a good 6 to 8 hours of sleep and thought “yea right, if only I could get sleep in the first place”. Yoga, it is said, helps you control the mind and if you have control over your mind, you could induce yourself to sleep well. Unfortunately, most of us know nothing of Yoga let alone have expertise in it.
There are however other means of inducing ourselves to sleep well and different people have over time, adopted one or two methods they feel, help them get some of that all elusive sleep – after all, a good night’s sleep usually ensures a very productive day.
Well, here’s food for thought; there are foods to help you sleep well and they do so by triggering the sleep hormones serotonin and melatonin. So without any further ado, let us tuck into some nice wholesome, sleep inducing evening meal.
Minor alterations in the daily diet to help you sleep well:
Without increasing the quantity of protein in your daily diet (approximately one-third), alter your diet so you consume the protein during the evening meal. Include green leafy vegetables for they are a good source of calcium and magnesium – both important for calming down the mind.
Well, protein is rich in the amino acid L-tryptophan. Once your protein is digested, amino acid and L-tryptophan get converted to serotonin and melatonin (sleep inducers).
Why calcium and magnesium?
Half the time, we don’t sleep well because our minds are busy rattling away at some problem or the other. Try as much as you can but the mind just does not seem to let go of the knotty issues. The solution lies in chemicals that flood the mind and drive away the life’s unsolved mysteries for another day. We are not referring to lab manufactured chemicals i.e. pills. We are referring to the humble vegetables that contain calcium and magnesium – vegetables such as broccoli and chickpeas and also nuts (e.g. almonds) and dairy products.
You can also include a glass of diluted tart cherry juice – it leads to significant jump in melatonin levels which in turn will help increase total sleep time and also sleep efficiency.
Habits can also help (or not) you sleep well.
Eat your evening meals early. Protein requires time to digest. So it is best to eat your dinner between 5 and 7 p.m. and hit the bed the moment you feel sleepy. If you feel hungry, have half a banana or a warm cup of milk or a small apple or pear – these last will also help calm the GI tract.
Keep liquids to the minimal – you don’t want to wake up midway and have to go the bathroom.
If you suffer from frequent heartburn or acid reflux or sleep Apnoea be sure to mention it to the doc during your next medical check-up. Have these conditions treated ASAP.
Some readers have written to us that eating five small meals instead of three large ones helped them avoid heartburn and acid reflux. While this definitely has a ring of truth to it, avoid sleep immediately after a meal. The ideal time gap should be at least two hours.
Bottom line: foods to help you sleep well are proteins, veggies and nuts such as walnut and almonds.
Include a small cup of warm milk. Avoid heavy meals and alcohol. Also, eat your last meal early.