Studies show that circadian disorders in sleep and eating patterns impair metabolic function (Shutterstock)

The world is witnessing an increase in sleep problems, with increasing numbers of people suffering from fewer sleep, while others are struggling to fall asleep.

In a report published by Psychology Today, author Hara Astrov Marano defined sleep as a biological necessity, which is rhythmically encoded in every cell of the body. The sleep-wake cycle coordinates all mental and physical processes, "sleep is essential for cognitive functioning, metabolism, immunity, appetite and hormone regulation."

The biological clock, which is located in the hypothalamus of the brain, is the main responsible for timekeeping, and is closely related to the light-dark cycle in nature, as light is the main factor that drives the neural network to adjust the rhythm of organ functions and behavior, but it is not the only one, but also affects external temperatures and levels of physical activity.

Diet, too, is one of the most powerful synchronizers of the body's biological clock mechanisms, as researchers have found that nutrition needs are timed with daylight, so much so that eating wrong, such as eating late at night, changes the genetic mechanism of the body's biological clock itself.

The importance of the time distribution of nutrition

Over the past two decades, nutrition researchers have combined information about the body's temporal rhythms and developed a field of study known as "nutrition time distribution," one of whose clearest findings was that most people live better and their metabolism improves when food intake (and other human activities) are in line with the biological clock, which is synchronized with light cycles.

Studies show that eating most calories at a midday meal and stopping eating before late evening are positive.

Research suggests that in terms of metabolic and brain health, restricting eating time is more important than the amount of energy consumed at those times, meaning that the problem is not always with calories, but studies show that shifting energy consumption to earlier in the day not only leads to weight loss, but also lowers levels of bad cholesterol, glucose and insulin resistance.

Several studies also show that circadian disorders in sleep, diet, and eating patterns affect daytime dynamics, impairing metabolic function, and leading to an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, as skipping breakfast and eating late at night has been associated with disturbances of circadian rhythm, body temperature, and secretion of melatonin and stress hormone.

Circadian efficiency and sleep

The timing of meals is not the only world that affects the efficiency of the biological clock and sleep, because their contents are also important, there are a number of specific nutrients that affect sleep through the body clock and other means.

The health importance of the Mediterranean diet may also be due to its influence on circadian patterns and sleep, as a diet rich in plant-based foods is also rich in melatonin.

Melatonin affects the circadian rhythm, a powerful antioxidant produced by the pineal gland in the brain, but it is also a component of many fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, olive oil, almonds, pine nuts, garlic, cauliflower, lentils and barley, all components of the Mediterranean diet.

The melatonin content in the food itself can vary greatly, depending on the variety of plants, the time they are harvested, and its post-harvest processing, and studies show that diet-derived melatonin raises hormone levels in the human blood and is biologically active.

Mediterranean diet

The writer pointed out that regular consumption of these foods can affect the quality and quantity of sleep, as the Mediterranean diet is characterized by the richness of the midday meal with energy, when the circadian rhythms are able to absorb it, and although the health benefits that promote sleep for this diet are not measured, but it seems that sleep is another way that enables the diet to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and mental illness.

The Mediterranean diet contains other nutrients that affect sleep, including serotonin, and although it has a complex effect on sleep, adequate levels in the body are necessary for the production of melatonin as well.

High levels of serotonin are found in spinach, tomatoes, peaches, walnuts, all foods normally contained in the Mediterranean diet, and omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, which also promote melatonin production in the body, and studies link them in particular to increased sleep efficiency.

Whole Foods Best Source of Nutrients

The best food sources are whole foods, which typically contain many factors that act simultaneously to enhance positive effects, but supplementation with substances such as melatonin and omega-3 fatty acids are also supported by numerous studies.

She suggests a range of foods that promote melatonin, another that boosts serotonin, and a third that is anti-sleep, as follows:

Foods that boost melatonin

  • tomatoes
  • Walnuts
  • Grapes
  • Cherry
  • Fatty fish

Serotonin-boosting foods

  • Kiwi
  • Milk
  • chickens
  • Canned Tuna

Anti-sleep foods

  • Candy
  • Caffeine
  • Chocolates
  • Steak
  • Old cheese
  • Citrus fruit

Source : Al Jazeera + Websites