Psychological Findings: Eat better to sleep better

Psychological Findings: Eat better to sleep better

Summary: The ever demanding corporate sector and increasing responsibilities are taking its toll on a human body. Add-on working hours have eaten into a common man’s sleeping schedule. Psychologists state if this trend persists, there will come a time when more people will suffer from insomnia.

It’s just 10 in the morning. You are tired, irritable and snappy. Your headaches and you reach out for that second cup of coffee. Sounds familiar? All these could be signs of sleeping disorder. It has been found that lack of a day of sleep can bring the productivity of a person down by 30 percent.

With increased stress and 14-hour work shifts, sleep is the first casualty. Add to that a poor diet and we are headed for an insomniac disaster. The age-old adage – early to bed and early to rise make a man healthy, wealthy and wise – holds true here.

Psychologists have documented that the hormone melatonin is essential for good night’s rest. The hormone is mostly secreted after sunset and remains high for up to 12 hours. Children produce more melatonin than adults and that’s why they sleep longer. The secretion of the hormone decreases with age, and hence it is called the Dracula hormone.

It is best to sleep an hour or so before midnight to ensure seven to eight hours of sleep before sunrise. Even while travelling, one could easily wear an eye-mask, automatically creating darkness, thus releasing melatonin. The Indian diet is best to increase secretion of this hormone. For example, earlier, eating tulsi leaves was a common practice. So, incorporate this natural stress-buster in your diet, either in your tea or toss it in your salad.

Certain vitamins and minerals like selenium, potassium and calcium help increase the secretion of melatonin. Also, food with high glycemic index like potatoes and grains, food containing antioxidant lycopene like tomatoes and dairy products like milk help you sleep better.  Here are some diet must-haves for a good night’s sleep:

  • CALCIUM: Nachni, kidney beans, Bengal gram, green turnip, mustard seeds, dried colocassia leaves, curry leaves, amaranth, tomatoes, all leafy greens, dry figs, sesame seeds and chickpeas.
  • VITAMIN B6: Brown rice, wheat, lentils, potatoes, sunflower seeds and bananas.
  • POTASSIUM: Finger millet, split green gram, split red gram, split black gram, split Bengal gram, peas roasted, lotus stem, sweet lime, peaches, fresh apricots, rohu fish and prawns.
  • VITAMIN C: Lemon, guava, gooseberries, drumstick and its leaves, turnip greens and cabbage.
  • SELENIUM: Wheat germ, barley, oats, brown rice, turnip and garlic.
  • MAGNESIUM: Nachni, green gram, whole wheat, betel leaves, dry coconut, walnut and mustard seeds.

To ensure a good night’s sleep:

  • Snack on bananas and sunflower seeds after five. Try and include a tomato salad with seeds and basil to your dinner. Temper your vegetables with mustard seeds. Eat ragi or rice with dal, fish or yogurt. Add a leafy green vegetable. Squeeze lemon on food.
  • Satisfy your sweet cravings with dry apricots, figs or a spoon of honey. Add honey to your glass of lemonade or milk.

Avoid large, fatty meals and spicy food at night. Also, avoid alcohol and caffeine in all forms after 5 P.M. Certain fragrances like lavender help you calm down and sleep faster. So it might be beneficial to have an infusion of lavender aroma in the room or a few drops in your bath water.

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