Trouble Sleeping? Maybe it’s your food!

You may have heard the saying you are what you eat. But, did you know that what you eat affects your sleep? Let me start by saying that 99% of the time I have no problem falling asleep.  According to my husband, once my head hits the pillow, I’m out! 

But my poor husband has been a bit of an insomniac for as far back as I can remember. 

In the past, for days on end, he would survive on no more than three, maximum of four hours of sleep.  Needless to say …

  • his weight increased
  • his level of activity decreased
  • he was constantly fatigued

He went to a sleep clinic and was told that, on top of everything else, he had sleep apnea and they wanted him on the machine as soon as possible.

We started to make serious changes to our lifestyle in the summer of 2015.  By the end of January 2016, my husband’s never-ending streaks of insomnia had all but disappeared, and he never had to use the sleep apnea machine. 

What changed about our sleep you ask? 

Our food. 

We started to eat fewer refined carbs (white bread, take out, burgers, fries, pizza, etc.), reduced the amount of sugar we were consuming (including in store bought sauces and salad dressings), eliminated dairy from our diets completely and started filling up on immune-boosting anti-inflammatory nutrient rich gut healing plant-based foods. These are all the main reasons he now sleeps better.  In short, we cut out the quick cook crap and fueled up on whole fibre foods.

We love the foods that Ayurveda, a health and wellness system from India, recommends. Here are some foods Ayurveda uses to help curb insomnia and other sleeping issues. Most of these foods are high in Tryptophan, an amino acid that helps people to sleep better due to the synthesis of serotonin.

What to eat during the day

For breakfast, cook up some millet or old fashioned oats with some nut based milk, add in loads of berries, some cinnamon, nutmeg and sprinkle of ginger, with a dash of vanilla extract.  Top it off with a bit of soaked walnut pieces, ground flax and pumpkin seeds.

All of those ingredients actively work to decrease your cortisol levels (main stress hormone), aid with digestion (your tummy turns into knots when you’re stressed), and helps you to return to a state of calm.

A large salad with some avocado at lunch will help to reduce the effects of anxiety.  Black, brown or red rice is one grain that is recommended for it’s sleep inducing qualities. If you must consume meat things like chicken, turkey, and tuna are great for helping to get a good night’s sleep, when accompanied by 3/4 plate of cooked veggies. 

As a calming tea at night, try some mint tea, chamomile tea, passionfruit tea and valerian tea are all wonderful choices.  Ki’s Ayurvedic Turmeric Tea Blend has been used by many to completely stamp out insomnia! 

If you are prone to snacking, try munching on walnuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds or peanuts and in small doses you can even grab some dark chocolate. Dark chocolate can help you sleep better due to the magnesium content.

Beware of sugar and caffeine

Along with all these food suggestions my husband and I are also very conscious of the sugar content of the foods we consume as sugar is terrible for you for so many reasons but also for sleep. When you consume lots of sugar, you are more likely to be up and going to the bathroom many times during the night which greatly disturbs your sleep cycle.

Caffeine is another huge one and can keep people up way later than usual if caffeine is consumed later in the day. Even a small cup of coffee can keep you up way past midnight or have you tossing and turning in your bed all night long.

Insomnia and sleep issues according to Ayurvedic principles

With Ayurveda, if you are having trouble sleeping it’s probably because of aggravated Vata dosha. When Vata is out of balance, everything is out of balance. Vata is responsible for clear thinking, exercise, and movement. When Vata dosha is balanced, we feel energetic, creative, free and inspired.

When Vata is aggravated we feel tired, restless, our mind is going a mile a minute and it’s hard to shut it off. It is in this state that insomnia is very common. Without knowing it, you might be doing a few things that keep you awake by aggravating Vata. So, what can you do?

Limit your technology use

One of the things Ayurveda suggests is to be very conscious of not eating too late in the day or staring at the TV or a computer screen late at night. Bright lights activate your nervous system and keep you awake longer.

Get to bed at a decent time

It’s not natural for humans to stay up too late. For generations, our ancestors went to bed when the sun went down and woke up as the sun began to rise. When you stay up to late, you mess with the natural rhythms of your body. In Ayurveda, it’s recommended that you go to bed no later than 10:00 PM every night.

It’s been several years since our drastic lifestyle change, and don’t get me wrong, its not as if my husband has never had a sleepless night since, but they are very few and far between.

Thank you so much for visiting! I hope you have found some valuable information, if so, I’d love to hear about it!

Please feel free to share this post with anyone who might benefit, and comments are always welcome!

I look forward to connecting with you next time!

Sending you Love + Joy!