Food for Wellness: Rituals to Sleep Well

By Madhulika Dash

For centuries, every night Indian mothers have had the ritual of giving a glass of warm milk to help sleep better. And it isn’t just plain milk, but often fortified with turmeric, cardamom powder and even clarified butter or almond oil. The reason for such addition ranges from improving gut health to prepping up the system for a weather change and even ensuring there is little need to wake up in the middle of the night hungry.

Of course, science now knows the psychological benefit of having warm milk at night. Warm milk in fact soothes the working body much like a good bed time story and hastens the process of deep sleep. Interestingly, warm milk isn’t the only delicious way to a good night’s sleep, according to National Sleep Foundation, there are a few more ways to get a restful shut eye time. 

A few like these:

Complex Carbs 
A pasta loaded with veggies may seem like a perfect dinner. Or even a baked pie. While it is calorie heavy and can fill you instantly, food that have high level of sugar and single nature carb (like white bread) can reduce serotonin levels and impair sleep. Instead, sattu porridge, popcorn, oatmeal, or whole-wheat crackers with nut butter are all good choices. Our very own rotis work beautifully to induce sleep.

Go Nuts
The heart-friendly properties of nuts are all too well known. But the fat in handful of nuts are also good for enhancing a restful state thanks to melatonin, a hormone that helps to regulate your sleep/wake cycle, especially in walnut and almond. Eating them cranks up the blood levels of the hormone, thus helping in sound sleep. Remember, not to go overboard. A few is enough.

Say it with Cheese
This could be one reason to go for paneer, chenna or having that fish curry at night – lean protein is said to increase serotonin levels. This brain chemical is essential for a good sleep and often gets boosted by the sweetness in the lean protein, especially in paneer or chenna.

Tea the Sleep
If you are lactose allergic, you can achieve the warm milk-effect with tea as well. Look for chamomile, ginger, and peppermint as they have calming effect on the brain and hence help you
sleep better.

Berry goodness
An oft heard tip to good sleep is to pop in a few berries. Cherries for instance contains a lot of melatonin; much like bananas, pineapple, and oranges are also sources. Kiwi in fact works great for people who suffer from insomnia, so does prunes, raisins, and plums. So having a bowl of mixed fruit works wonder to get the body kickstarted to rest. The only rider: avoid dehydrated versions and have the bowl 40 minutes before you hit the sack. This will help the body to digest the fruit and then sleep process to begin.