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Insomnia, diet and stress

A sleepless night, or difficulty sleeping, can happen to anyone due to stress, a dinner that was too hearty, or emotions that interfere with the quality of sleep.

Knowing the enemies of good sleep helps us to preserve the quality of sleep and maintain our psychophysical harmony. The main obstacles to good sleep are:

#Alcohol: a moderate amount of alcohol causes drowsiness and initially seems to help us fall asleep, but in reality it causes disruptions during nighttime rest, altering the duration and the depth of the phases of sleep and leading to early awakening.

#Caffeine: everyone knows that caffeine is sleep's enemy, as it stimulates the production of chemical substances such as adrenaline in the brain, keeping us in a state of alert. If a person suffers from sleep difficulties, it is advisable to reduce the consumption of caffeine starting from early afternoon.

#Stress: stress alone is not negative, as it helps us face difficult situations and small daily challenges. In this case, the term is eustress (from greek eu: good), while negative stress - or distress - can keep a person in a state of alert, making it difficult to fall asleep and to stay asleep.

#Overeating: eating too much at dinnertime can cause digestive difficulties, heartburn and restlessness, ruining the quality of sleep.
Especially in the evening, it would be better to have light meals, and maybe eat more for breakfast or lunch, following our suggestions for a healthy diet.

10 suggestions for better sleep

1. routine: going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day maintains the balance of the circadian rhythm, namely the right alternation between the sleep-wake cycle.

2. environment: making the bedroom more comfortable and regulating the temperature and illumination improves the quality of sleep.

3. the bed: it's suggested to avoid carrying out other activities in bed like working, watching television, browsing the web, especially if you suffer from sleeping difficulties, so as to create a positive association between bed and rest.

4. careful with the nap: napping even only 30/45 minutes during the day can interfere with rest at night, so if one has difficulties sleeping, it is suggested to reduce the frequency and  durations of the naps.

5. avoid stimulants: all stimulating substances are an obstacle to resting well at night, thus it is suggested to avoid them and limit alcohol and coffee in the 4/6 hours preceding bedtime.

6. physical exercise: being physically active is an important ally for psycho-physical health, but physical exercise, especially if it is intensive, should be avoided in the two to four hours preceding bedtime, as the elevated body temperature reduces the levels of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the circadian rhythm of sleep.

7. natural light: the circadian rhythm of sleep is conditioned by natural light and dark; thus, it is important to enjoy daylight and spend some time outdoors every day.

8. relief from anxiety and stress: each of us can find the right strategy to relieve small daily anxieties and reduce stress, for example yoga, outdoor walks surrounded by nature, pleasant activities and a diet rich in anti-stress foods.

9. at dinnertime: as described earlier, the last meal of the day should also be the lightest of all, as our body does not require much energy while we sleep.

10. ritual: having a small ritual to perform before going to sleep each night helps the quality of sleep, such as, for example, taking a bath, dedicating some time to one's wellbeing, or to a relaxing read.