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How food affects your sleep

Tan Shu Yan on 03 Apr 2018

The Straits Times


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You may have heard that caffeine keeps you up at night, but how about eating a handful of pumpkin seeds for better sleep?


Nutritionist Pooja Vig of The Nutrition Clinic shares her tips on sleep-promoting food and drinks, as well as those that will disrupt your slumber.



1. Try chamomile tea.


This age-old calming remedy increases glycine in the body, which relaxes nerves and muscles. 


2. The best bedtime snack combines protein and carbs, such as peanut butter and banana or oatmeal with pumpkin seeds and walnuts. 


3. Bananas, pumpkin seeds and leafy greens are rich in magnesium.


Magnesium is known as nature's tranquilliser and can also be taken as a supplement for people with sleep issues. 


4. Tart cherry juice has high levels of melatonin, a hormone that controls our sleep and waking cycles.


A study found that drinking 236ml, or one cup, of tart cherry juice twice a day for two weeks helped increase sleep time by nearly 90 per cent among adults with insomnia.



1. Avoid spicy, heavy foods like laksa, which are harder to digest.


The body spends energy digesting the food instead of allowing the brain to enter the sleep cycle. 


2. Alcohol is generally a no-no.


Each alcoholic drink takes an average of two hours to clear your system. As the alcohol wears off, withdrawal effects such as restless sleep, bad dreams and even panic attacks may occur.


 3. Some fermented foods like yogurt and pickles contain high levels of histamine and may trigger the secretion of stress hormones. 


4. Caffeine is a notorious enemy of sleep as it blocks sleep-promoting adenosine receptors in the brain, keeping you awake.


Even five hours after drinking coffee, 50 per cent of it remains in your bloodstream and has been shown to impair sleep.


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.


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