Sleep and Diet

Sleep has an enormous impact on our daily activities. If you do not get good sleep it may affect your work, concentration, mood and social interaction. After a good sleep you feel fresh and restorative to function properly. Sleep needs vary depending upon age; in general 7-8 hours sleep is adequate for normal functioning of body. If you feel tired the next day, it means you are not getting adequate sleep. Babies and children require more sleep than adults. It is a myth that older people require less sleep. As the age advances sleep requirements change and old people tend to suffer from several sleep disorders.

What helps us to get good sleep?
Certain hormones are secreted from our body to initiate normal sleep. Diet also plays an important role in inducing good sleep. Some dietary habits that are known to affect sleep are discussed here:
"When you're sleep deprived, your body produces more ghrelin, a hormone that tells you to eat more, and less leptin, which signals you to stop eating," says Michael Breus, PhD, author of Beauty Sleep.
It is recently found by a study done at the University of Chicago that people who sleep less than seven to eight hours are likely to eat high-carb, sugary and starchy food over other healthy foods. It is also a true fact that if you choose certain healthy foods these calms your nervous system and initiates a hormonal response to induce sleep. "A big meal increases the blood flow to your digestive tract, causing your stomach to secrete more gastric acid and making your pancreas and intestinal muscles work harder," Breus says. This stimulates your system instead of calming it.

Eating nutritious food helps to maintain a balance of hormones and neurotransmitters that induce good sleep.

A diet including foods rich in vitamin B complex, calcium and zinc help you to rest better. "Vitamin B6 signals your body to produce the calming hormone serotonin," Breus says. "And calcium and zinc are natural relaxants."

It is found that avoiding caffeine can improve the sleep quality, found in a study published in the Journal of Clinical Nursing.

Milk is a rich source of tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid that naturally induces sleep. Tryptophan enhances the amount of serotonin, which is a natural sedative for our brain. A glass of warm milk with one teaspoon of honey can facilitate good sleep.

A banana with milk provides your body with vitamin B6, which converts tryptophan to serotonin and helps in inducing sleep.

Herbs that help to induce sleep

Many herbs are found to be useful for inducing good sleep. One such herb known since ancient time is valerian.

Valerian: Researches have shown that the active ingredients present in the valerian root relax the central nervous system. It does not produce dependency or hung over feeling. Valerian enhances the action of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma amino butyric acid), which acts to calm us down and make us sleepy. Other herbs include chamomile, peppermint, passion flower, and wild lettuce.

Nutrients that help you to sleep better

Lycopene: It is a cancer fighting anti-oxidant and is easily available from watermelon, pink grapefruit and tomatoes.

Vitamin C: It is also an anti-oxidant that may be obtained from strawberries, orange, lemon, Amla and kiwi.

Melatonin: This is a hormones secreted by the pineal gland situated in our brain and plays an important role in inducing sleep. It can be easily found in foods such as chia seeds.

Foods rich in protein such as soy beans, meat, yogurt consists of serotonin that helps in inducing sleep.