The best sleep habits need to take into account a number of factors, from good diet to proper exercise. To help you develop good sleep habits, we invited nutritionist and Fit India ambassador Nikita Suresh for a chat on food, sleep and all things wholesome.
In the post, Nikita answers questions, which will help you develop the ultimate sleep habits. From finding out about the ideal sleeping hours to the ingredients of healthy sleeping, Nikita has covered everything.
Building good sleep habits such as developing a good sleeping ritual or having the right snack before bed etc. a lot of beans were spilled in this interview. So get your notebook ready, and dive in!
This month, Nutritionist Dr. Nikita Suresh, Ph.D, a wellness coach and Fit India Ambassador, who is on a mission to educate and motivate people to adopt a healthy lifestyle with proper food and sleep habits, shares some nuggets of wisdom with Wakefit.
Nikita’s journey as a nutritionist
Talking about choosing to be a health coach, Nikita reveals that it started off with a desire to improve her own health and sleep habits.
“Prior to 2010, I had been overweight by more than 10kgs. I then began to work out regularly with the primary aim of losing weight. During this journey, I decided to become a Zumba fitness instructor to inspire others to start exercising,” she says.
At this point, Nikita was studying nutrition in Mount Carmel College.
“The knowledge gained in this field helped me understand that the primary aim of exercising and consuming a proper diet should be to develop good health and not merely for weight loss”, Nikita adds.
With this newly acquired perspective around healthy sleeping and good living, Nikita decided to become a nutritionist and help others improve their lives too.
Healthy sleeping means happy living
Talking to us about her personal philosophy of subscribing to a holistic lifestyle, Nikita shares her equation for good living as:
Since good sleep habits is a big part of this equation, we asked Nikita her thoughts on the relationship between sleep and food.
Talking about the strong connection between healthy sleep habits and good food, Nikita says that if one were to put it simply, lack of sleep results in a higher risk of binge-eating and making unhealthy food choices.
“Studies have shown that chronic lack of sleep increases the risk of obesity and higher waist circumference,” she cites.
It is a vicious cycle because poor food choices, coupled with irregular food times contribute to poor sleeping hours, Nikita adds.
Why snacking before bedtime is counted among bad sleep habits
Many people love snacking before bed. Nikita, however, labels this as one of the bad sleeping habits that needs to go to the dumpster.
Nikita recommends refraining from food at least 2 to 3 hours before your ideal sleeping hours.
If you are really hungry or stressed, she suggests brewing a cup of chamomile tea for yourself.
An alternative, she says, is a glass of milk with turmeric.
You can include magnesium rich foods such as bananas, tender coconut water and almonds as these are foods for good sleep, Nikita advises.
Having said that, Nikita reiterates that it is best not to consume food a couple of hours before your ideal sleeping hours.
Foods to avoid for healthy sleeping
Foods that you must avoid before bed which do the opposite of what sleep inducing foods do include,
- Heavy meals with unhealthy high calorie
- Junk foods and foods that are high in sugar, such as sugary drinks and desserts
Nikita also stresses on avoiding caffeine and alcohol closer to your ideal sleeping hours.
Sleep habits to create a healthy sleeping environment
We at Wakefit design every product with the idea that a good sleep environment is essential for good living.
Some of the sleep habits that Nikita swears by when creating her healthy sleeping environment include,
- Limiting her screen time before bed
- Creating a peaceful ambiance by dimming lights
- Ensuring proper ventilation
She cannot stress enough how important a comfortable bed is to ensure healthy sleep.
For better sleep, Nikita also suggests soaking some sun during the day by incorporating outdoor workouts as part of your exercise routine.
Food & sleep habits for your immune system
With the pandemic being the new normal, working on strengthening one’s immune system has become more necessary than ever before.
Nikita advises that one maintain a healthy diet, good hydration, regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and low stress levels.
“It is beneficial to consume foods rich in Vitamin C such as amla and oranges. Include ingredients such as turmeric, pepper, ginger and a wide variety of spices while cooking,” she adds when sharing her nutrition tips.
According to Nikita, some bad food habits to steer away from include under-eating vegetables, in particular green leafy vegetables, low intake of fruits, lack of water intake and making dinner the heaviest meal of the day.
Also, skipping meals to lose weight and overeating nuts because nuts are considered ‘healthy’, are myths that one is better off without.
A recipe for healthy sleeping
As a parting gift to our readers, Nikita has also shared one of her favourite recipes with us:
A simple kashaya for good sleep and general well-being (serves 2)
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- Pound peppercorns and cardamom until powdered
- Grate fresh turmeric
- Boil half cup of water and add 1.5tsp grated fresh turmeric
- As the water is slowly boiling, add the powdered peppercorns and cardamom
- To this, add 1.5 cup of milk
- As the milk turns frothy, remove from flame and allow it to cool
- Add 1tsp of honey, mix well, strain and serve
Quick-fire questions with Nikita!
- What is one of your favourite sleep habits?
Play with my dog before bed. A perfect stress buster!
- Last movie you watched that put you to sleep instantly.
- What are the most common diet tips everyone wants from a nutritionist?
“How to lose belly fat?”
- What do you do when you are not feeling motivated enough to work out?
Immediately get into my workout gear
You can connect with Dr. Nikita Suresh on instagram @nikynutrition for a customised food and sleep habits plan.