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Your diet and your sleep are related in many ways. Bad sleep can affect your cravings, meaning it could determine your desire for some foods, and vice versa, as a bad diet can be the cause of a bad night. You can improve your sleep quality with some adjustments to your meals, especially your dinner. Know which are the best ingredients for your dinner in order to have a restful sleep!
Insomnia is a very common problem for people who have poor sleeping habits, depression, or are taking certain medications. A lack of exercise and an unhealthy diet can be also causing bad quality sleep. Some people have chronic insomnia, whether others stay awake at night when they’re facing a special moment that provokes anxiety. In those cases, it’s just a temporary state, but when insomnia is a constant part of your life it negatively affects your health in many ways.
As researchers have proven that your diet has a close relationship with sleep quality, you should start to focus on what you eat before going to bed. At the same time, how you sleep determines your will to eat certain foods. It can be a vicious cycle or a virtuous cycle: it’s up to you!
If your dinner is high in sugar, saturated fat, and processed carbohydrates, it’s highly possible that you’ll have a bad sleep. On the other hand, if you choose plants, fiber, and foods rich in unsaturated fat, such as nuts, olive oil, fish, and avocados, you’ll probably sleep peacefully.
Carbohydrates have a significant impact on sleep, and that’s because carbs help tryptophan -one of the building blocks of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin- cross into the brain more easily. That’s why many nutritionists recommend a high-carbohydrate diet instead of a high-fat or high-protein diet to people who have sleep troubles.
This said, you should pick certain foods to prioritize the quality of carbs: simple carbs, such as white bread, bagels, pastries, and pasta, aren’t recommended because they don’t lead you to the restorative kind of sleep. You should consume complex carbs that contain fiber. An example of a healthy lifestyle that may be optimal for better sleep is following a Mediterranean diet, which is focused on vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, seafood, poultry, yogurt, herbs, spices, and olive oil.
On the other hand, how can sleep disorders affect your diet? If you’ve ever suffered a bad night, you’ve probably experienced fatigue, irritability, and memory problems the day after. This mood leads you directly to bad choices when it’s about food. Your brain activates its reward centers and you crave junk food, ice cream, and fatty snacks to “compensate” the bad sleep.
This tendency to eat more when you haven’t rested properly is a result of hormonal changes. A bad night’s sleep drop leptin levels -the hormone that helps to regulate energy balance by inhibiting hunger- in your body. At the same time, it provokes the increase of another hormone called ghrelin, the one that stimulates the release of the growth hormone. Leptin signals when your body’s satisfied and done eating, while ghrelin stimulates appetite. The change in these hormones’ levels explains why you tend to eat more and never seem to get satisfied.
As diet and sleep are related, now you know what way to take if you want to have restorative nights and productive days. You can help to increase your sleep quality by adopting other habits, like regular exercise, avoiding the use of devices in bed, and turning off your phone during your sleep time. Give it a try and have nights of long and peaceful rest!