Dr. Shayesteh: Diet and sleep connection

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — Dr. Shayesteh said the way a person eats can affect how they sleep, but new research shows that the reverse also is true and the way a person sleeps can influence their food cravings.

He said foods containing tryptophan convert to melatonin, which is a natural sleep aid. Some ways to get this nutrient are by drinking a glass of skim milk before bed, having a bowl of cereal with skim milk, eating a few crackers with cheese, or eating a banana or nuts. He said these should be eaten in small quantities between 30 minutes and one hour before bed.

Regular exercise also helps a person sleep better as long as it is done at least three hours before bed. Exercise helps reduce anxiety and makes people more tired, he said.

Dr. Shayesteh said avoiding caffeine is another way to get a better night’s sleep. He said caffeine should not be consumed less than five hours before bedtime because it takes five to six hours for a person’s body to get rid of the caffeine. He said the same is true for alcohol.

He said insomnia affects a person’s hormones, especially the hunger hormone known as ghrelin. He said people who do not get enough sleep produce too much of this hormone, which causes them to take in more calories and gain weight. He said insomnia also increases the hormone cortisol, which increases stress. That can lead to elevated blood sugar levels, which in turn leads to cravings for foods that are high in sugar and fat content.

Dr. Shayesteh said incorporating small changes in nutrition and exercise can lead to better sleep, which increases a person’s overall health.





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