Sleep and diet
Most people are aware that what we eat can influence our sleep: we find it hard to fall asleep after eating fatty foods or going to bed on an empty stomach. It is therefore recommended that we have our evening meal 2-4 hours before going to bed. Ideally, this meal should be light and low in fibre, so that our stomach is not too busy digesting it while we are falling asleep. Foods containing tryptophan, such as soy, tofu, buckwheat or pumpkin seeds, can also help you fall asleep. Those who still have difficulty drifting off into dreamland despite having had an early and light meal could try a glass of milk with honey, cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg or a cup of tea (e.g. lemon balm, lavender, valerian).
Nutrition influences our sleep – and vice versa: insufficient sleep wreaks havoc on our hormone balance. This increases our ghrelin levels, which is our hunger hormone, and decreases our leptin levels, which regulates our appetite. As a result, we crave junk food and sugary foods, because we hope to get a quick energy boost from them. This also explains why sleep deprivation can lead to obesity in the long term – aside from other health problems.