Sakshi C. Mittal, founder of the medicinal meal service Foodhak, knows a thing or two about the effects of food on well-being. Originally from Delhi, Sakshi was living in London when she was diagnosed with a rare liver disease during her first pregnancy. To avoid possible medication complications, she switched to a plant-based diet focused on traditional, cleansing Ayurvedic dishes from India, like khichdi and rasam. This approach changed everything and reversed her illness.
Having experienced the power that food has in our lives, Sakshi explained to us just how much eating can affect our sleep. This is important because sleep is another major factor that affects our overall well-being. If you eat well and sleep well, you’re much more likely to live a healthy, long life.
We know that sleeping well does much more than just boost daily energy. It strengthens our immune system to prevent infection, illness, and disease. It also helps with weight maintenance, muscle and tissue repair, digestion, nutrient absorption, and detoxification.
So just how does eating tie into how we sleep?
Sakshi explains that it’s crucial to eat nutrient-rich foods (of course). But what we didn’t realize was that many healthy foods actually help our bodies produce melatonin, and many unhealthy foods can cause insomnia. Even the timing of eating is crucial.
Eat more melatonin-inducing foods.
“Sleep all starts with melatonin, a vital hormone for getting the most out of those precious eight hours. We’ve found that it occurs naturally in foods like cherries, kiwis, seeds, brown rice, and other whole grains, which makes them great for your body,” Sakshi tells us.
Avoid refined sugars and carbs.
“Sugary foods and refined carbs, like pasta and white bread, will make you feel lethargic and can negatively impact your sleep quality. When we are tired, we have a tendency to reach for sugary snacks as a quick pick-me-up. However, this causes our blood sugar levels to rise, triggering the pancreas to release insulin.
“This overstimulates our internal processes and releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol (not exactly chill). Instead of settling down for restful sleep, we may find ourselves experiencing restless or disturbed sleep, only to wake up craving more sugar.”
Eat at least three hours before bed.
“Your lifestyle is a big part of sleep quality too. Eating at least three hours before going to bed gives your body time to digest and your digestive system time to rest, so you’ll wake up more refreshed. Also, avoiding your phone for an hour before bed, partaking in regular exercise, and creating a consistent routine make your sleep time much more effective.”