We rarely think that correcting our diet has any impact on our quality of sleep. We repair our bodies when we sleep.
It’s important to know that making the right food choices gives us the energy to not only complete our tasks but also strengthens our immune system, improves memory, repairs our bones, tissues, heals our wounds and makes us live energetically.
Our body functions upon a 24-hour cycle of light and dark, called the circadian rhythm and this daily mechanism regulates the secretion of melatonin in our body. This hormone helps to keep our bodies in sync with the rhythms of day and night and in turn regulating our sleep pattern.
Research has indicated that many age-related problems may be caused by declining levels of melatonin, (an antioxidant). Melatonin also has been found to stimulate the immune system; have a major role in the production of estrogen, testosterone, in the prevention of certain cancers; and even slowing the growth of existing malignancies. Besides promoting an optimal sleep pattern, melatonin has been shown to be one of the most potent antioxidants in nature, protecting our body from free radical damage. The melatonin level has also shown to affect cardiovascular function and menstruation.
Maintaining Your Melatonin Level Naturally
It’s quite evident that light and darkness are the primary factors that set the rhythms of melatonin production. However, they are not the only factors involved. In fact, it has been found that variations in the foods eaten, daily routine followed, and our exercise regime may also affect the rhythm of melatonin production.
Here are a few simple ways to help your body maintain optimum levels of melatonin naturally for better sleep, delayed aging and overall well being:
- Adopting a discipline in eating pattern and having meals at regular intervals help as it strengthens the rhythm of melatonin production. Keep the mealtimes as regular as possible to keep the body in sync with the rhythms of the day.
- Have light dinners. When melatonin production begins after nightfall, the digestive process is slowed. Thus, any heavy foods eaten close to bedtime may lead to enhanced digestive problems, which can make it difficult to sleep. It is advisable to have small, light meals of soup, vegetables or grilled chicken with wheat bread for dinners.
- Avoid stimulants like coffee, tea, and caffeine-containing medications and colas as these interfere with melatonin production by interfering with your sleep.
- Vigorous activity is shown to delay the melatonin secretion, hence avoid high intensity exercising late at night. On the other hand, exercising in the mornings, preferably outdoors (in early morning light) shall reinforce healthful sleeping habits that lead to regular melatonin production.
- Eat Foods Rich in Melatonin: Melatonin is present in many foods and eating foods rich in natural melatonin can raise melatonin levels in the bloodstream. Oats, sweet corn, and rice are the best sources of melatonin. However, the amounts present in these foods are small and you might have to take a supplement. Ginger, tomatoes, bananas, and barley also contain small amounts of melatonin. Melatonin reduces oxidative stress to the body and helps it to repair.
- Adopt healthy habits for better melatonin production
- Sleep in comfortable clothes, adequate ventilation and complete darkness.
- Eat foods rich in melatonin and vitamin B6 such as whole grains, nuts, sprouts and fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Good carbs such as whole grain like barley, oats, rice, corn may help to promote sleep, as they contain melatonin.
- A glass of warm milk (almond milk for those who are lactose intolerant, cow’s milk for others) taken in the night also helps you to sleep better because it provides calcium
- The practice of meditation has positive health effects such as improved energy and calmness of mind. There is research that suggests that meditation may aid in boosting the levels of melatonin.
The best approach seems to be to follow the natural lifestyle approaches that boost the levels of this remarkable hormone. This can be achieved by a healthful diet, regular physical exercise, regularity in sleeping, avoiding late night activities and getting enough sunshine.
As Published on January 7, 2019 in Hindustan Times