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Diet & Insomnia

Diet & Insomnia

Sleep is one of the most crucial needs in life. Everyone needs it to function properly. Without it, we break down mentally and physically. Lack of sleep can cause moodiness and lack of concentration.
If you are thinking about why you are suffering from insomnia, you have to think about your daytime activities, since they are directly related.

Consider what you eat: Pick the right foods to help you get the best sleep possible; learn which foods to eat, and which foods to avoid.
Choose tryptophan-rich foods: Dairy foods are from the foods which contain tryptophan, which is a sleep-promoting substance. Nuts, seeds, bananas, honey, and eggs are also rich sources of tryptophan.
Get a little bit of carbohydrates: Carbohydrate-rich foods help boost tryptophan in the blood. A bowl of cereal and milk, nuts and crackers, or bread and cheese are examples of a few good late-night snacks.
Have a snack before bedtime: A little food in your stomach may help you sleep, but keep the quantity small if you have insomnia. A heavy meal will make you uncomfortable and unable to get to sleep.
Limit high-fat foods: People who often eat fatty foods gain weight and their sleep cycles tend to get disrupted, since a heavy meal activates digestion, which can lead to nighttime trips to the bathroom.
Beware of hidden caffeine: A cup of coffee in the evening might disrupt your sleep, even if it is in a moderate amount, but don’t forget about less obvious caffeine sources, like chocolate, cola, and tea. Consider that even decaf coffee has a trace of it, but not that much to cause crisis. Cutting all caffeine from your diet 4 to 6 hours before bedtime is a good solution to get better sleep.
Watch out for medications which may contain caffeine: Pain relievers, weight loss pills, diuretics, and cold medicines are examples of over-the-counter and prescription drugs that may have caffeine in them. These medications may have as much or even more caffeine than a cup of coffee. So, it is wise to check the prescription to know if the medicine you are taking interferes with sleep.
Look out for your alcohol: It is true that alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, but you might not sleep well and even have headaches, night sweats and nightmares. A glass of water for each alcoholic drink helps to dilute the alcohol’s effects, but it’s better to avoid alcohol 4 to 6 hours before bedtime to have a good night sleep.
Beware of heavy, spicy foods: Since the digestive system slows down when you sleep, you may become uncomfortable when you lie down with a full belly or suffer from heartburn because of spicy cuisine. Finish a heavy meal at least 4 hours before bedtime.
Minimize protein at bedtime: Although protein is good to take during the day, but it is hard to digest before bed, since it contains the amino acid tyrosine, which promotes brain activity. Therefore, take a small piece of cheese and some light carbohydrates, like crackers and skip the high-protein snack before bedtime and take
Cut the fluids by 8 P.M.: Although staying hydrated throughout the day is great for your body, but cutting it off before bed would definitely be wise. This will help you not to get up to go to the bathroom after you go to sleep.
Don’t smoke to relax: Smoking isn’t a good idea – night or day even if it’s one of your favorite ways to relax. Therefore, it should rather be avoided before sleeping, since nicotine contained in cigarettes, has similar stimulant effects as caffeine.

To sum up, for a good sleep:
•Don’t go to bed until you are tired
•Set a regular schedule to get up in the morning, even on weekends
•Don’t nap during the day
•Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine at night
•Don’t watch TV, eat, or read in bed
•Follow the same bedtime rituals each night
•Avoid rigorous exercise three hours before bedtime
•Get out of bed when you can’t fall asleep

So, it may be what you do during the day that’s giving you insomnia at night.

Christelle Bedrossian
Beirut, Lebanon



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Dietitian Christelle Bedrossian