Are you getting enough sleep? Far too many Australians struggle to fall asleep or suffer from poor sleep quality. Many believe that sleep disorder is the only thing that could be causing it and are prepared to make costly and inconvenient appointments at a specialist centre or clinic to prove it. Insomnia can be caused by disorders, but often overhauling your eating habits and patterns can solve the problem without any expensive devices or medication involved.
- The Food-Sleep Link
Some people can’t fall asleep at all, others have restless leg syndrome which disturbs their sleeping and some people sleep through the night but wake up exhausted. If you are in any of these categories, try changing your diet first. Sometimes the food we eat causes discomfort. For example, eating spicy, fatty fast foods right before bed can cause heartburn and reflux as your body struggles to digest the large, calorie-rich meal you’ve just consumed. Drinking caffeine, alcohol or sodas can also disrupt sleep by stimulating the nervous system when it should be winding down.
Just one night of bad sleep can cause a vicious cycle of bad eating and more sleepless nights. When you’re sleep deprived, your body produces less of the hormone leptin, which suppresses your appetite and desire to eat. A sleep-deprived body will produce more ghrelin, which is your appetite-stimulating hormone. As a result, you’re hungrier and crave unhealthy foods for an immediate energy boost.
- What To Consume For Better Sleep
Now that you know what to eliminate from your diet for better sleep, here’s what you should be adding to it. Focus on eating more fresh fruit and vegetables, particularly greens which are antioxidant-rich and alkalise your system. Other great food sources include whole grains and low-fat proteins such as fish, poultry, eggs, lean meat, and dairy. Vitamin B-rich foods are great for encouraging more sleep as it regulates the hormone melatonin, which in turn regulates sleep cycles. Eating more foods with iron, calcium, zinc, and copper will also help this.
Establish better eating patterns by eating healthy meals three times a day. This will prevent you from skipping meals and then overcompensating later at night, which will over-stimulate your body through digestion.
Whether you have insomnia, restless leg syndrome, daytime sleepiness, sleep apnoea or wake up numerous times a night, it’s recommended that you change your diet before booking an appointment with a sleep therapist.