How Do Eating Habits and Lifestyle Affect Your Sleep Quality?

boza Many factors like stress, nutritional problems and lack of adequate physical activity can affect sleep quality.

Physical and mental stress caused by intense working hours affect people during sleep, and even people who think that they sleep enough, wake up feeling tired. Half the population are likely to experience insomnia during certain periods in their lives.

Sleep disorders increase the risk of many chronic diseases. Insomnia, for example, can cause problems affecting the release of the leptin and ghrelin hormones that control body fat deposits and appetite mechanisms. In patients with insomnia, levels of ghrelin increase, raising appetite and nutrient intake, while leptin is suppressed, resulting increased risk of obesity. Obesity, in turn, makes an individual more likely to experience sleep apnea, a condition that can lead to respiratory arrest for 10 seconds or longer. Sleep apnea not only diminishes sleep quality, it may also increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Insomnia is sometimes associated with an increased risk for diabetes, infectious diseases, high blood pressure, asthma, arthritis, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. In addition, it can also lead to memory and concentration impairment as well as fatigue and weakness, lowering quality of life.

Inadequate and poor quality of sleep can cause problems at work or in social life. Memory impairment and absent-mindedness can lead to workplace accidents. Are eating habits related to insomnia?

Nutrition and sleep quality are intimately related to each other. It is known that food and drink choices during the day, and especially before sleep, can cause insomnia.

Which foods help increase sleep quality or cause insomnia? By preventing insomnia, can we enhance our quality of life?

Pay attention to your caffeine intake after dinner!

Caffeine is a moderate stimulant for the central nervous system. For example, the intake of 1 to 2 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight can delay falling asleep by about one or two hours. If caffeine is regularly consumed, this effect may occur with 2 to 3 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight instead. The effects of caffeine are temporary, which are disappearing within three to four hours. Excessive caffeine intake before going to bed can prolong the transition to sleep by making you feel energetic and restless.

A glass of milk before going to bed

When we were children, our mothers force us drink milk before we went to bed. The nutrients in milk helped us to grow and its lactose and tryptophan content helped us sleep soundly. When drunk an hour before going to bed, the lactose in the milk is metabolized into lactic acid in the body, facilitating falling asleep. In addition, the amino acid tryptophan helps to ensure quality sleep by supporting the body to produce the hormones serotonin and melatonin. There have also been studies that show nutrients with high tryptophan contents improve sleep quality.

If you are having symptoms of lactose intolerance which are common in our and other Mediterranean countries, such as nausea or stomach pain after drinking milk, you may prefer dairy products such as lactose-free milk, yogurt, or kefir.

Get support from herbal tea

Herbal teas have always been a part of traditional medicine and are often used for insomnia as a result of their relaxing effect. Research has shown that tea made from the passiflora plant (passiflora incarnata) has a mild positive effect on sleeplessness. While there is no definitive recommendation regarding the consumption of herbal tea by healthy adults, pregnant women and people with diabetes or cardiovascular disease should be cautious about drinking herbal tea.

Physical activity and active life

The World Health Organization recommends a moderate level of physical activity for 150 minutes per week, for a healthy lifestyle and to protect against chronic diseases. Increased body heat through physical activity can help us fall asleep by stimulating sleep mechanisms. In addition, it is suggested the non-REM, or non-rapid eye movement sleep, which the body needs for rest and repair, is prolonged through activity, having a positive effect on total sleep duration.

Control your stress

The stress of the day can directly affect sleep quality. If you are prone to sleep disorders, you may suffer insomnia, especially during stressful times. To prevent this, you can practice yoga and meditation, which include physical activity and provide relaxation. Find ways to eliminate stress such as having a hot bath, reading, or listening to relaxing music. Studies also show that bedtime routines smooth the transition to sleep by signaling the body that it is time to go to bed. Various studies have emphasized that using smartphones before going to sleep reduces sleep quality, as the brain is stimulated as if by daylight. boza Sufficient, quality sleep enhances performance at school and work, as well as social life. It helps to keep memory and cognitive skills sharp. By regulating appetite control mechanisms, it prevents excessive eating and weight gain. Sufficient, quality sleep helps prevent chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. With adequate and balanced nutrition, and with behavioral changes at meal times, the right food choices, physical activity, and herbal tea, you can have a regular and quality sleeping rhythm.

1. Liu, Yong, et al. Association between perceived insufficient sleep, frequent mental distress, obesity and chronic diseases among US adults, 2009 behavioral risk factor surveillance system. BMC Public Health, 13(1), 2013
2. Özgen, F. Uyku ve uyku bozuklukları. Psikiyatri Dünyası 5, 41-48. 2001
3. Verster, J., et al. The association of sleep quality and insomnia with dietary intake of tryptophan and niacin. Sleep medicine 16 (2015): 105.
4. Ngan A., Conduit R. A double‐blind, placebo‐controlled investigation of the effects of Passiflora incarnata (Passionflower) herbal tea on subjective sleep quality. Phytotherapy research, 25(8), 1153-1159. 2011
5. WHO Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. Physical Activity and Adults, Recommended levels of physical activity for adults aged 18 - 64 years. Link:
6. Chenghao G. The Relationship Between Stress and Sleep Quality Among IPFW Students. 2016


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