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Eating the right kind of foods can encourage sleep and weight loss

Eating the right kind of foods can encourage sleep and weight loss

Category: Sleep Talk
Posted: Jun 26, 2015 10:21
Synopsis: If youíre struggling to get to sleep on a night time, or indeed you can drop off faster than a hypnotised cat, then recent studies have shown it could all be down the food you eat!

Eating the right kind of foods can encourage sleep and weight loss

About one-third of the UK population are suffering from insomnia. We all know that eating right and exercising your body is the best way to lose weight and remain healthy. But, after eating right (as you think) and eating well, you donít seem to change physically or lose weight to your preferred body size, what do you think is wrong? Why are you not losing that weight? Well, after eating right and eating well, this may not affect your weight if you have been sleeping wrong.

Most people have been eating right and visiting the gym always to lose weight, but they wait at night (when they are supposed to be sleeping) to finish those Netflix marathons; this alone can help to hinder your progress to losing weight and staying fit. To get your body to be operating at the prime operating level, there must be a balance in your eating pattern, exercise, and sleep schedule. Diet, exercise and sleep together create the basis for long-term health, fitness, and well-being.

These three work hand in hand as a healthy diet can help boost your sleep duration and quality, a deep, sound and quality sleep can also help you eat better. according to research, when you do not sleep well, there is a higher probability that you will consume foods that are high in sugar, fat, and calories. Continue reading this article to see how an ideal sleep-promoting food should look like, how to eat well to get great sleep, what things (foods and drinks) to avoid before going to bed, and examples of food to eat before sleeping.

How Should Your Sleep Food and Diet Look Like?

Generally, if you are the type that has been losing weight, the type of diet you follow while losing weight should be the type you should be eating to bet every day to sleep well. There are different types of sleep-promoting diets, and they are mostly rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, dairy and rich proteins. A healthy diet for sleep also comes in smaller portion size, and limited amounts of heavily processed foods and high-sugar you eat in each day.

There are some nutrients found in different healthy foods that are more beneficial to sleep. An example is a tryptophan; foods rich in this nutrient are highly beneficial for sleep. This is because tryptophan is an amino acid that helps in the production of neurotransmitter serotonin which is sleep-friendly. This nutrient works in collaboration with calcium for the production of melatonin, which is a hormone crucial to sleep. To get tryptophan from food, you need to take foods like soy products, dark greens, bananas, fish and meats, walnuts and nuts such as cashews. You can also take turkey because they also have this nutrient.

In order to improve the quality of your sleep, certain minerals can help you. You can boost your sleep with foods that are rich in potassium and magnesium. Potassium and magnesium are minerals that act as muscle relaxants. According to research, it has been shown that a lack of magnesium is linked with insomnia and fragmented sleep. To get a good amount of magnesium in your diet, you can take foods such as whole grains like beans, lentils and brown rice, dark greens like chard and spinach, and fruits such as melons, bananas, and berries. For potassium, foods rich in potassium include leafy greens and other vegetables like cauliflower, potatoes, and squash as well as in beans, fruits like avocado and banana, and in fish.

Lastly, you can also get a deep quality sleep when you take foods that are rich in calcium. This is because calcium is known to help sleep in different ways. One of which is that it helps to promote strong sleep-wake cycles by aiding the regulation of melatonin and second is that it helps to relax muscles. When you have a disturbance in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, there is a higher probability that you lack calcium in your body. Foods that are rich in calcium are dairy products as well as dark greens. Others include nuts like sesame seed and almond, soy products, citrus fruits, and some fish. Cherries are also rich in calcium, and they are very good to eat for sleep. Also, cherries contain a large amount of melatonin (a natural antioxidant with a good record that it helps to regulate the sleep-wake cycle) naturally.

The Best Foods for Sleep

There are four key vitamins and minerals that must be present in food before it can help to promote sleep. These include tryptophan, calcium, magnesium, and B6. The effects of these substances are in the production of enough melatonin (a hormone that helps in the maintenance of the circadian rhythm (the patterns of sleep/wake). There is a higher production of melatonin when it is time to sleep naturally to improve your sleep. Also, when you are ready to wake up, the production of melatonin will stop getting you ready and alert for the dayís activities.

Some foods are packed with these essential minerals and vitamins naturally, and this means that eating some foods can naturally improve the quality of sleep. Most of these essential vitamins and minerals are available in over-the-counter supplements, but it is better to get them naturally from foods that you eat.

Tryptophan - This is an amino acid that turns into the neurotransmitter serotonin when ingested; this is then later converted into the melatonin hormone. Below are some of the foods that are loaded with tryptophan:

  • Poultry (turkey, chicken)
  • Grains (rice, barley, corn, wheat, oats)
  • Fruits (bananas, peaches, apples, avocado)
  • Dairy products (low-fat yogurt, milk, cheese)
  • Seafood (salmon, halibut, tuna, shrimp, sardines, cod)
  • Legumes (lima beans, chickpeas kidney beans, black beans split peas,)
  • Vegetables (broccoli, turnip greens, spinach, asparagus, onions, seaweed)
  • Nuts and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, flax, sesame, almonds, walnuts, cashews, peanuts)

Magnesium - Magnesium is known to be powerful mineral that is very effective in improving sleep. Magnesium is a natural relaxant, which helps to deactivate adrenaline. When you lack magnesium, you will have trouble going and staying asleep. In other words, magnesium is known as sleep mineral. Below are some of the excellent sources of magnesium are:

  • Banana
  • Calcium
  • Avocados
  • Soybeans
  • Wheat germ
  • Low-fat yogurt
  • Fish (halibut, tuna, salmon, mackerel)
  • Dark leafy greens (kale, collard greens, baby spinach,)
  • Nuts and seeds (sunflower seeds, almonds, cashews, pine nuts, brazil nuts, flaxseed, pecans)

Calcium - This is another mineral that aids the production of melatonin. When your body does not have enough calcium, you may wake up in the night with a difficulty of going back to sleep. Foods rich in calcium are known to help people with insomnia. The best sleep inducers are dairy products that are full of both calcium and tryptophan. Below are the best sources of calcium:

  • Okra
  • Yogurt
  • Broccoli
  • Sardines
  • Cheeses
  • Soybeans
  • Vitamin B6
  • Low-fat milk
  • Fortified cereals
  • Green snap peas
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Fortified orange juice
  • Enriched grains and bread

Vitamin B6 - This is a very great vitamin that helps to change tryptophan into melatonin. There will be a lower level in serotonin production and poor sleep when the body is lacking vitamin B6. Symptoms of mood disorders and depression are also linked with the deficiency of B6 in the body, and this can lead to insomnia. Below are some of the highest sources of vitamin B6:

  • Spinach
  • Bananas
  • Avocado
  • Flaxseed
  • Dried Prunes
  • Pistachio nuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Fish (salmon, halibut, tuna)
  • Meat (tuna, lean pork, chicken, lean beef)

Melatonin - Melatonin is the main ingredient that is responsible for quality sleep and many of the foods on this list help in the production of melatonin from serotonin. However, there are some foods that are full of melatonin naturally and some of them include grains (barley, rolled oats, rice), fruits and vegetables (asparagus, corn, tomatoes, tart cherries, pomegranate, broccoli, cucumber, olives, grapes) and seeds and nuts (sunflower seeds, flaxseed, walnuts, peanuts, mustard seeds).

Drinks That Are Great for Sleep

When it comes to sleeping well, it is not only food that can make this happen; there are some drinks that can also make this happen too. Many drinks available are full of essential vitamins and minerals, which will help improve sleep quality. Some of these drinks that are good for sleep are:

  • Warm milk
  • Valerian tea
  • Almond milk
  • Chamomile tea
  • Peppermint tea
  • Tart cherry juice
  • Passion fruit tea

Right Foods That Can Help You Sleep

  • Cherries
  • Cherries
    According to researchers from the University of Rochester and the University of Pennsylvania, a glass of cherry juice is a highly effective way to sleep faster and longer. They found out that cherries (especially tart cherries) aid the body in the production and supply of melatonin that helps to cure insomnia. If you donít know about the number of cherries that will make you sleep well, professionals said that having a serving of frozen, fresh, or dried cherries or drinking a glass of cherry juice (you can get this from natural foods stores) before sleeping will not hurt you.

  • Almonds
  • almonds
    Almonds are the best fruits that you can eat to sleep well, according to the medical director of the Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Centers, Jacob Teitelbaum. Almonds contain magnesium and magnesium are known to improve sleep quality and muscle relaxation. In addition to this, they supply enough protein to the body. This protein will help the body sustain a stable blood sugar level when you are sleeping, and it also helps to stimulate sleep by switching you to your rest-and-digest cycle from your alert adrenaline cycle. All you need is to take a tablespoon of almond butter daily to have a relaxed body.

  • Oatmeal
  • Oatmeal
    Even though you can eat it for breakfast, a bowl of warm oatmeal could help you get enough rest. Letís think about this; oatmeal is a warm, soothing, soft, easy to prepare, nourishing and inexpensive food that will make you sleep well if taken before bedtime at night. It is rich in magnesium, silicon, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium; the nutrients which are known to support sleep. However, do not include too many sweeteners as taking sugars before bed will produce an anti-calming effect. You can top your oatmeal with fruits like banana instead.

  • Banana
  • Bananas
    Have you ever worried about sleeping at night? If you find it hard to sleep at night, have a banana before bed. Bananas are a great source of potassium and magnesium, minerals which help to relax stressed muscles. Banana also contains tryptophan which is converted to melatonin and serotonin, which are the main calming hormones in the brain. To get started, you can blend one banana with a cup of soy milk or regular milk and include ice if desired. Enjoy this simple and nutritious drinks and have a great night rest.

  • Cherry Juice
  • cherry juice
    According to researchers from the University of Rochester and the University of Pennsylvania, a glass of cherry juice is a highly effective way to sleep faster and longer. They found out that cherries (especially tart cherries) aid the body in the production and supply of melatonin that helps to cure insomnia. If you donít know about the number of cherries that will make you sleep well, professionals said that having a serving of frozen, fresh, or dried cherries or drinking a glass of cherry juice (you can get this from natural foods stores) before sleeping will not hurt you.

  • Cereal
  • cereal
    Cereals are also very good, and you will not feel guilty about taking a bowl of it before going to bed. This is better especially if it is a low-sugar and whole-grain cereal type. Not only that cereal is a healthy snack especially when topped with milk (to get the required protein that your body needs), it may also help you doze. Carbohydrate-rich foods boost the presence of tryptophan in the bloodstream making it easier for you to fall asleep. Above all, you can top your bowl of cereals with a scattering of dried cherries to add extra to your sleep.

  • Broccoli
  • broccoli
    You may feel rested tomorrow when you eat well today. According to different researchers, they were able to find out that the more the fiber in a personís diet, the more time the person will spend sleeping well. On the other hand, if you eat food with too much fat, you may find it hard to sleep well or spend less than enough time in the deep-sleep phase during the night. Go for fiber-rich foods like broccoli, beans, and raspberries and reduce your urge for foods rich in saturated fat like steak, butter, bacon, and cheese.

  • Dairy
  • dairy products
    Milk and yogurt do not only contain tryptophan; they also have nutrients that will help you sleep well. They also contain calcium which is very effective in the stabilization of nerve fibers as well as those in the brain and stress reduction. This means that taking a cup of Greek yogurt before going to bed will not only help you sleep well, but it will also help to relieve you from stress especially the one at work during the day.

  • Hard Cooked Eggs
  • cooked eggs
    If you are always finding it hard to sleep at night, it may be because you are not eating food that is high in protein before going to bed or that the snack you took was too high in sugar carbohydrates like candy and cake. Simple carbs can help reduce your blood sugar level while you are sleeping and this will make you wake up around 2 or 3 am in the morning. Eat an egg, nuts, or cheese or another snack rich in protein before going to bed. This will not only make you fall asleep very fast, but it will also make you stay asleep.

  • Tea
  • tea
    Although the best option that will make you sleep well at night is by avoiding anything caffeine in the evening, there are some decaf varieties that will make you sleep well by putting you into sleep mode very fast. An example of the tea that is very helpful and provides a safe sleep is chamomile tea. Another great choice is green tea which contains theanine that supports good sleep. Just make sure you are taking a decaf green tea right before you go to bed. You can start by taking a cup of the tea.

Below are Lifestyle Tips to Avoid Before Bed

Avoid watching television, or making use of a computer before going to bed.

Avoid putting on the light when sleeping; sleep in complete darkness. This is because darkness stimulates the production of melatonin, which is a brain chemical that promotes sleep.

Avoid taking coffee or other substances, drinks or medication rich in caffeine before sleeping. Caffeine is a strong anxious stimulant because it has nicotine.

Avoid drinking alcohol before bed. Drinking a few drops may not cause a problem, but drinking excessively will disturb the REM phase of your sleep.

Avoid eating large and heavy meals when it is close to bedtime. This provides much stress on the digestive system. This does not only cause discomfort and indigestion, but it also causes sluggishness in the morning.

The Worst Foods for Sleep

Since we have foods and drinks that improve the sleep quality, we also have some food that when taken can affect the quality of sleep or prevent you from sleeping well. Although most of these foods are healthy foods that you can always eat, it is just that it is not recommended to eat them when you are going to bed because they can alter your sleep quality. Some of these foods are as follows:

Foods and drinks that are rich in caffeine - If you are tired during the day or you are in need of a little pick-me-up to keep on with the dayís activities, you can take drinks that are rich in caffeine such as coffee or some energy drinks like Red Bull and Monster. However, it is not a good thing to drink caffeine after taking lunch and a few hours before going to bed. This is because caffeine can alter your sleep pattern by keeping your mind awake and overactive. If you donít know, foods with dark chocolate are also rich in caffeine, and you should avoid taking them when you are about going to bed (or late in the day).

Spicy foods - Although spicy foods are delicious foods and they are known to be more beneficial to health, it is a very bad idea to eat spicy foods when you are close to bedtime. Spicy foods are very good at causing indigestion, heartburn, and acid reflux. As a final note, when you eat spicy food when you are about to sleep, and you have heartburn, you will worsen the heartburn when you lie down. This is because lying down causes the acids to move up to the esophagus and increase the burning of the sensitive lining.

Alcohol - Although there are some myths about alcohol making you sleep; it does not help to promote sleep. While alcohol can make you feel drowsy and fall asleep faster than ever before, it regularly disrupts sleep pattern and thereby preventing you from having a quality sleep; you will not be allowed to sleep deeper (which is one of the phases of the sleep cycles).

Foods high in fat Ė According to research, foods high in fat have been linked to deprived, fragmented sleep. Fat activates the digestive processes and increases the production of stomach acids. These acids will cause discomfort when the migrate to the esophagus while lying down. The production of orexin will also be affected when you eat a diet high in fat; orexin is one of the neurotransmitters that aids the regulation of the sleep/wake cycle in the body in addition with melatonin.

Protein-rich foods Ė Foods rich in protein are also known to disrupt sleep when taken very close to bedtime. This is because the digestive system finds it hard to breakdown protein. So, when you eat food very rich in protein before sleeping, the body will focus more on breaking down the protein than focus on sleeping. Once the body is digesting food, you will find it hard to sleep, and you will not have a sound sleep even if you manage to sleep.

Food containing too much water Ė Foods rich in water like celery and watermelon are very good for the body, but they are not recommended when you are about to sleep. They are natural diuretics, and they help in the migration of water through your system. If you eat this type of food too close to bedtime, you will be deprived of good quality sleep because you will have a lot of night bathroom trips (mainly to relieve your bladder).
Eating heavy meals before bedtime Ė Just like everything else in life, moderation is very important. Even if you donít eat heavy food but too much of normal foods, you will also find it hard to sleep well because your body will not focus on making you sleep but on digestion; the same thing goes for heavy foods too. So, do not eat too much of recommended foods and heavy foods before going to bed. A light snack is recommended before sleeping if you find yourself feeling hungry when it is time for bed. The best snack you can take before bed should contain calcium and tryptophan such as cheese and crackers, a bowl of cereal, or peanut butter on toast. All these will help you sleep well.

If you still find it hard to sleep at night after following these healthy eating tips and other recommended sleep hygiene practices, you are likely suffering from a sleep disorder. If this is becoming regular, you have no other option than to contact your health care physician or visit a sleep center to know what is wrong with you.






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