After a long day’s work, everyone looks forward to a good night’s sleep. But before going to bed, most people first drink or eat something depending on their preference. Experts, however, warn that what you consume actually determines whether you will find sleep or not. A recent study by Mayo Clinic, an international medical practice and medical research group based in the US, says eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and getting appropriate exercise can guarantee good sleep. The research also indicates that eating a large meal close to bed time makes it harder for one to fall asleep.
According to Alice Murerwa, a nutritionist at Ruhengeri Hospital, taking milk before bedtime is healthy because it induces chemicals like serotonin and melatonin which help the brain to function well hence a good sleep.
“Drinking at least one glass of warm milk before sleep is good. Dairy products are always rich in amino acid tryptophan that aids in the production of the sleep. Foods such as yoghurt, oats, bananas, poultry, eggs, peanuts and tuna contain tryptophan that helps in sleeping well,” she says.
Murerwa adds that making a fixed time for going to bed, and that of waking up in the morning, small yoga and having a warm shower will help one get enough and good sleep. However she warns that watching television and using computers for a long time before going to bed always interferes with one’s sleep.
For Isaac Bikorimana, a nutritionist at Kibagabaga Hospital, foods that contain unsaturated fats (health fats) such as legumes, fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals which are good for sleep.
“They always have antioxidants, which fight against free radicals from oxidation of unhealthy fats. For instance; when they are oxidinated, they generate free radicals. To remove them, they need antioxidants, and good examples of such antioxidants are fruits and vegetables,” says Bikorimana.
He says that if the radicals are not removed from the body, they can cause heart problems like high blood pressure, which later may interfere with the quality of sleep.
“Opting for low salty foods is important for sleeping well. The intake of foods with high content of salt, before going to bed will always destruct your sleep. Too much of salt enter the blood, making it to clot. This makes the heart not function properly, as well as limiting your sleep,” adds Bikorimana.
What to avoid towards bedtime
Experts warn that caffeine and alcohol late at night interferes with the sleep. For instance, they argue, it can take several hours for the stimulating effects of caffeine to wear off, while alcohol can prevent deep sleep and make you to wake up during the night.
“When you take a cup of coffee in the evening, it will interfere with your sleep because it takes one to three hours to get to its peak. Also, avoid eating a large quantity of food because it will take a long time to be digested making you uncomfortable in bed,” she says.
One should also limit the amount of starch, fat and sugary foods they take because they take long to be digested, making it harder for one to sleep well.
Experts say foods such as pork, cheese, chocolate, tomatoes, potatoes and wine should be avoided since they are rich in amino acids known as tyramine, which is converted to noradrenaline, a brain stimulant that may affect sleep.
Also, too much alcohol is not good because it causes blood sugar levels to drop. This usually forces people to wake up in the middle of the night. Smoking also disrupts good sleep since it contains nicotine which is a stimulant.