Sleep is a natural reoccurring cycle in our body. We have a circadian pacemaker in our hypothalamus which is synchronized with the solar cycle. As darkness falls, the circadian pacemaker releases a hormone, melatonin from the penial glands and we sleep. Sleep is an R&R for our entire body. All our processes slow down and take rest. Lack of sleep can have far reaching detrimental effects on our brain and the entire metabolism.
Today's lifestyle, stress (induced by the pandemic) and other factors are affecting almost 33% of Indians who suffer from insomnia. Recent research has focused on foods that help induce a restful sleep. While no one magical food, nutrient or ingredient has been found, what has been established is that a healthy diet containing complex carbs, plant proteins, dairy and lots of fruits and vegetables also are helpful for a more stable metabolism, which has a positive effect on sleep. High sugar foods, excessive intake of alcohol and caffeine have the opposite effect.
We nutritionist always advise an early dinner, at least two hours prior to hitting the bed; alongside, a good night drink is something we all recommend. Here are a few drinks that will help you relax and sleep better.
The age-old practice of drinking a warm glass of milk before sleep is a good relaxant because it contains tryptophan, an amino acid that makes us sleepy. Tryptophan is a precursor for melatonin and serotonin - both neurotransmitter - that aid in sleep. In addition, the comfort of a warm drink also helps relax mind and body. Milk also has a good amount of carbohydrate that is known to make one sleepy. Calcium in milk works with tryptophan to make more melatonin that further makes one feel sleepy.
2. Almond Milk:
For the vegans, almond milk is a good alternative to dairy. It is rich in tryptophan; in addition it is a good source of magnesium that will help relax the muscles and improve sleep quality.
3. Chamomile Tea:
Another popular bedtime drink, it has a positive effect on sleep because of an antioxidant compound apigenin. Antioxidants scavenge free radicals and relax the body, apigenin is particularly associated with anxiety alleviation and hence a restful sleep.
4. Honey With Warm Water/Green Tea:
Honey, added to warm water or a cup of green tea is also very relaxing. Honey contains some tryptophan, so adding honey to your night drink or just honey with warm water is a sweet night cap.
5. Coconut Water:
Pure fresh coconut water is a low-calorie drink that not only energizes us, but is also a treasure trove of minerals like potassium, and magnesium that relax your body.
Ayurveda has used ashwagandha herb for centuries to relax mind and body and for improving the quality of sleep. It is an adaptogen herb that revitalizes the entire body. Ashwagandha root, seeped in hot water, is a good drink for sleeping better.
Saffron is a spice associated with many health benefits. Ayurveda uses it to soothe nerves. A drink, made with 1 or 2 threads of saffron with a teaspoon of honey and a little ghee, is just what the doctor ordered to soothe away the days stress.
While these are good for sleeping, what you definitely should avoid is coffee, tea, and alcohol - all these interfere with the sleep pattern.
A good night's sleep is the corner stone to good health. So don't sleep over a problem you may have. Get those 7-9 hours of sleep that all adults need to let the body rest and get refreshed for another day.
Stay safe, stay healthy.
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About Rupali DattaRupali Datta is a Clinical Nutritionist and has worked in leading corporate hospitals. She has created and lead teams of professionals to deliver clinical solutions for patients across all medical specialties including critical care. She is a member of the Indian Dietetic Association and Indian Association of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition.