Decoding Sleep and Nutrition by Dr. Naaznin Husein

By Nikita Banerjee +2 more

It is interesting to see we never miss charging our Mobiles in the night under any circumstance as we know having a phone running on low battery is utterly nightmarish at work.

However, we often forget to recharge our batteries every night with adequate sleep, very often feeling completely tired and drained throughout the day.

Sleep and Nutrition_Dr.Naaznin Husein

Some clear signs and symptoms of less sleep or disturbed sleep

  • Dark circles below the eyes
  • Urge to sleep an extra hour even after the morning alarm rings
  • Waking up tired in the morning
  • Increase in waist circumference
  • Increase in body weight
  • Loss of hair or baldness
  • Decreased Libido

A Fatigued, sleep-deprived mind leads to a tired and fatigued body

If you need a lie-in on weekends to make up for lack of sleep during the week, you may be at risk for obesity and type 2 diabetes, a study suggests.

The findings, shown at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting, suggested that an increase in sleep could help patients. Researchers also found that as little as 30 minutes a day, sleep debt can have significant effects on obesity and insulin resistance.

Studies have already shown that shift work can rapidly put healthy people into a pre-diabetic state.

The action of throwing the body clock out of sync is a thought to disrupt the natural rhythm of hormones in the body, leading to a host of health problems.

It has been suggested that people who are experiencing short-term sleep restrictions process glucose more slowly as compared to individuals receiving full 8 hours of sleep, increasing the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes.

Know your sleep enemies and combat them


  • Avoid a heavy dinner after a long day at work

For friends who may have a long commute from work to home, ensure you grab a healthy lean protein-rich snack (Hard Boiled eggs, Chicken Wrap with vegetables, Tofu sandwich) or a mini-meal by 6.30 – 7 pm when leaving from the office and avoid falling prey to a heavy meal (Thali full Garam Khanna) when you reach home.

  • Avoid sleeping immediately after a heavy meal

This may cause a lot of heartburn and abdominal discomfort. This may be, especially if you overeat or eat certain foods that induce heartburn. Lying down may help as reflux symptoms can cause burning chest discomfort and a bitter taste in your mouth. Some people describe this as burping up food.

  • Avoid Very Spicy and Citrus foods

Spicy and acidic foods like citrus and tomatoes may be especially bothersome. Alcohol, chocolate, and even peppermint may also worsen heartburn and reflux.

  • The time between meal and sleep is critical

Eating too close to bedtime may harm your sleep. Ideally, keep a gap of at least 2 hours between meals and sleep.

  • Limit Consumption of Alcohol

Initially induces sleep.

  • Limit Caffeine

Also, caffeine in coffee, tea, soda, energy drinks, and chocolate should be avoided. It blocks adenosine, a chemical that naturally makes us feel sleepy, and when consumed too close to bedtime may contribute to insomnia. It can also increase the need to urinate, which can lead to disruptive nocturia. Not everyone is sensitive to caffeine, but if you are, consider restricting its consumption to earlier in the day (stop using by mid-afternoon).


  • Avoid intense exercise close to bedtime

While training is a must, avoid intense activities closer to bedtime as it may lead to a complete stimulation and delayed sleep and complete disruption of circadian cycles. Light stretching exercises in the evening along with yoga and mindful meditation can help induce better sleep.

Read More: What is The Best Time to Exercise?

  • Never forget a Hot Cup of Milk

A warm cup of hot milk or Turmeric Latte also known as Haldi milk can be a great sleep inducer and helps reduce inflammation.

Include complex carbohydrates with lower Glycemic index food like millets (Ragi, Jowar, Amaranth (Rajgeera, quinoa) as a part of your night dinner. Avoid desserts and sugary foods closer to bedtime.

  • Food and Mood Connect

Lack of sleep increases stress, low levels of depression and huge cravings to satiate the taste buds Sugar, Fat, and Salt cravings. The desire to eat emptied calorie food, colas, chips, Samosas, Cakes is highly pronouncing

Absolute Food Essentials which Promote sleep


Ensure you include nuts like Walnuts. A daily dose of 28gms approximately, 12-14 halves of walnuts should be added as a mid-evening snack (In replacement to high fat- snacks) or as a pre-workout meal. The fatty acid makeup of walnuts may also contribute to better sleep. They provide ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid that is converted to DHA in the body. DHA may increase the production of serotonin, a sleep-enhancing brain chemical.


Several other foods have sleep-promoting properties, but they have not been explicitly studied for their effects on sleep.

  • Milk: Another known source of tryptophan, milk has been shown to improve sleep in the elderly, especially when taken along with melatonin and paired with exercise
  • Bananas: Bananas contain tryptophan and are a good source of magnesium. Both of these properties may help you get a good night’s sleep
  • Oatmeal: Similar to rice, oatmeal is high in carbs and has been reported to induce drowsiness when consumed before bed. Additionally, oats are a known source of melatonin
  • Cottage cheese: Contains a significant amount of casein, which is a milk protein that is well known to sustain overnight muscle repair and growth when consumed before bed.

Other Daily Lifestyle tips

A warm water bath can soothe the body after a hectic day at work and helps relax the muscles.

Reduce Screen Time

Long hours of screen time at night keeps us from falling asleep and sleeping well due to cognitive stimulation and sleep deprivation. Your brain’s electrical activity increases, neurons race and divert you from calming down into a peaceful state of mind for sleep.

Also, the physical act of responding to an email, text, or video increases the tension in your body which results in stress. Your body then produces the stress hormone – cortisol, released by the adrenal gland aversive to sleep.


Furthermore, the brain naturally creates the hormone, melatonin that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Too much light from video screens at bedtime affects the melatonin production giving the body the impression that you aren’t ready to sleep. Also, the screen emits light that suggests to the brain that it is still daytime which contributes to insomnia and sleep deprivation. Holding a device such as a smartphone close to one’s face increases this effect giving the brain the wrong signal as if it’s not time to go to sleep. The best advice is to stop watching TV or using smartphones and other screen devices an hour or two before bedtime to give your brain a rest and the correct signal that it is time to sleep.

Must Read: How to Get A Good Night Sleep? – 10 Tips to Sleep Better At Night

Harvard Medical School scientists concur that specific wavelengths of light suppress the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin in the brain.

How much should we sleep?

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF), along with a multi-disciplinary expert panel, issued its new recommendations for appropriate sleep durations”¦

  • New-borns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
  • Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened by two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
  • Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14) heavy dinners after a long day of work
  • Pre-schoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
  • School-age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
  • Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
  • Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
  • Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)

So, stick to the age-old mantra –Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy and wise.


Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a health care professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

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