The food we eat and the physical activities that we engage in are not the only important factors in maintaining physical and mental health. It is also critical that we factor in the amount of sleep and the quality of sleep that we get each night.
Sleep is extremely important and often undervalued. A lack of sleep often leads to lower cognitive abilities, decreased concentration levels, and higher irritability. And to make things worse, poor sleep habits can lead to a higher risk of developing heart diseases.
It can affect your blood sugar which can lead to diabetes and it can negatively impact your immune system. This can make you more susceptible to contracting illnesses. So it is essential that you are able to identify the different factors that can affect sleep.
Factors Affecting Sleep
There are several internal and external factors that can affect sleep. One is the environment that you sleep in. Where your room is located and is there any distractions in your room or around it? It could be the noisy neighbor’s dog barking outside or the technologies you have inside your room.
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Having a pitch black room is really important to getting a good night sleep. So having little led lights lit from your TV or phone chargers can actually affect the quality of you sleep as your skin senses the light.
If you are taking any medications, then they could be a factor too. Some medicines can leave you feeling uncomfortable therefore keeping you awake for some time. Another thing that you should look at is your lifestyle and your bedtime routine (if you have one).
And of course, take into consideration the food you eat because believe it or not, what you eat (or do not eat) has a huge impact on whether you can get a good night’s rest.
Foods That Can Improve Sleep
Foods that are rich in carbohydrates can boost the production of tryptophan and serotonin, the two chemicals found in your brain that calms you down and makes you feel sleepy. One other thing that you should know about carbohydrates is that it can stimulate the production of insulin. Carbs that have high glycemic index are found to be more effective in improving your sleep quality. Examples are jasmine rice, whole grain bread or oatmeals.
For those who love to munch nuts, you are on the right track if you want to get better sleep. Nuts like Brazil nuts, walnuts and almonds are great sources of Tryptophan, a type of amino acid that enhances sleep. Almonds also contain the mineral, magnesium that helps relieve insomnia and decrease the stress hormone, cortisol.
Add calcium-rich foods in your diet because calcium helps in converting Tryptophan into Melatonin so you feel more relaxed and you will be able to get that restful sleep. Of course, nothing beats warm milk before bedtime. However, you can also get calcium from cheese, natural yogurt, spinach and kale.
Vitamin B plays a big role in promoting good sleep. It helps improve the sleep-wake cycle and it regulates the production of Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that also acts as a mood stabilizer. Having adequate amount of Vitamin B does not only equates to restful sleep but also better mood as well. You can get this Vitamin from salmon, chicken breast, potatoes, cherries and bananas to name a few.
Foods that are high in iron content like liver and tofu should be part of your diet. This should prevent you from experiencing iron deficiency anemia, a condition where there is a decrease in production of healthy red blood cells responsible in distributing oxygen all over your body. When this happens, sleep can be disrupted. Aside from that, you too could experience fatigue which could hamper your performance at school or at work.
Eating and sleeping are connected, it’s a fact. While there are foods that can help you sleep better, there are certain foods like alcohol and caffeinated drinks that can stimulate you and cause your sleep pattern to be disrupted. And if you want a good shuteye, then you better stay clear of those and just eat foods that can help give you a good night’s rest.
Author Bio: Karen, founder of RealEnergyFood.com is an integrative nutrition health coach who is passionate about helping people boost energy levels, lose weight, clear up their skin & improve their health through finding the right foods that work for their unique body. With a Science degree from the University of Western Australia and certification from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, Karen works with clients all over the world through one on one coaching and group programs. Karen’s mission is to help people get energized and achieve food freedom so they can concentrate on the important things in life. Find out more at RealEnergyFood.com