March 23rd 2022
Food and sleep: a two-way link
Foods that help you sleep better

A good night’s sleep is a fundamental element for feeling well and maintaining the balance of our body: it is well known that sleeping well is good for our health. It is a process that takes up about one third of our lives and has a major influence on both mental and physical well-being.
A very important and often underestimated aspect of this is nutrition, which plays a decisive role with respect to the quality of our rest.

It is a relationship of mutual influence, where sleep affects nutrition as much as nutrition affects sleep. This relationship is governed mainly by two hormones, leptin and ghrelin, which regulate the sense of satiety and appetite, respectively.
Studies on the quality of sleep have revealed that when people have had a sleepless night, they tend to wake up with a preference for high-fat and high-calorie sugar foods, as a result of low production of the satiety hormone leptin during the night and an increase in ghrelin, the hormone responsible for regulating appetite. This triggers a vicious circle, where poor sleep leads to the consumption of unhealthy food, which contributes to poor quality sleep.
It is therefore necessary to first of all act on our diet to break this irresolvable cycle, but just how to do it? Let’s see which foods are best for good sleep hygiene and which ones to avoid.

Foods that promote good rest

First of all, there are some nutritional tips that can be followed, which aim not only to eliminate bad eating habits, but also to promote good quality sleep.
There are some foods that can promote sleep as they stimulate the production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates the circadian rhythm, i.e. the body’s sleep-wake cycle, which promotes relaxation of the various vital functions, rebalancing the relationship between daytime and night-time activity. These are foods containing a specific amino acid, triptophan, which supports the production of another hormone, serotonin, the so-called “feel-good hormone”, a precursor of melatonin. This amino acid is present in various foods such as brown rice, milk, legumes and green leafy vegetables (such as spinach, chard, lettuce or asparagus).

Foodstuffs Foodstuffs rich in calcium, vitamin B and magnesium, which can help the body to relax, such as pumpkin seeds, dried fruit, fish, eggs, rice and whole-grain cereals, are also preferable.

When it comes to protein, it is good to choose lean cuts of meat or fish which is rich in Omega 3, like sardines, anchovies, mackerel etc…
With all these foods, choose simple and fat-free cooking whenever possible, such as steaming, grilling, grilling or baking in foil. It is also advisable to eat light meals and foods that do not require long digestion times in the evening.

Foods to avoid before bedtime

As well as foods that help you sleep better, it is also good to know what foods are best avoided before bedtime.
These are all high-calorie, high-fat foods that are difficult to process and take a long time to digest.
They include:

  • Fried foods, sausages and filled desserts which, as stimulants, can compromise the quality of rest;
  • Foods high in sugar, such as ice cream, pastries or complex carbohydrates;
  • Foods rich in sodium, as they have a hypertensive effect;
  • Stimulating drinks containing caffeine or theine;
  • Alcoholic beverages, because, contrary to popular belief, they lead to “intermittent” rest due to the liver’s difficulty in metabolising alcohol.

We have seen how diet and sleep are strongly linked, and following a few simple rules you can improve the quality of your rest and consequently increase energy and productivity during the day.