The Surprising Impact of A Halal Diet and Nutrition on Sleep Quality
If there's one thing we've heard over and over again in our faith, it's that taking care of ourselves physically and mentally will also lead to improved sleep at night.
But did you know that what you consume in your halal diet also plays a key role in this?
We're going to explore the science and relationship between diet and sleep, and give you valuable tips for improving your evening rest through halal nutrition, in accordance with Islamic principles.
The two nutrients to help you sleep 😴
The foods we consume can directly affect our sleep quality in a number of different ways. For example, certain foods can stimulate the production of hormones that promote wakefulness, such as cortisol and adrenaline. Other foods can interfere with the production of hormones that regulate sleep, such as melatonin.
In Islam, we are encouraged to consume foods that are pure and beneficial to our bodies. Allah (SWT) says in the Quran, "Eat of the good things which We have provided for you" (2:172). This includes consuming foods rich in magnesium, a mineral that is essential for sleep regulation.
Here's how magnesium works: it's involved in the production of melatonin and is also thought to help relax muscles and promote a sense of calm. You can get more magnesium from your diet by consuming foods such as leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, and legumes.
Another key nutrient for sleep is tryptophan, an amino acid that is a precursor to serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and promote feelings of calm, while melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle. You can get more tryptophan in your diet by eating cheese, egg whites, chicken, fish, milk, sunflower seeds and more.
Foods to avoid 🙅🏽♀️
It's worth noting that certain foods can actually interfere with sleep quality. On top of that Islam also teaches moderation in all things, including in what we eat. Islam also teaches moderation in all things, including our food intake.
Al-Miqdam ibn Ma’dikarib reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The son of Adam cannot fill a vessel worse than his stomach, as it is enough for him to take a few bites to straighten his back. If he cannot do it, then he may fill it with a third of his food, a third of his drink, and a third of his breath.” (Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2380)
Consuming foods that are high in sugar or refined carbohydrates can cause a quick spike in blood sugar followed by a crash. This can disrupt your sleeping patterns. Caffeine can also interfere with sleep quality as it promotes wakefulness. Caffeine has a half-life of five hours, which means that if you drink a cup of coffee at 7pm, the caffeine in your body will have only halved by midnight.
Of course, we know that alcohol is forbidden in Islam, and it is known to also have an adverse effect when it comes to the human body achieving deep sleep. Allah knows best in his infinite wisdom the reasons why he made certain food and drink halal and haram.
Our top tips for improving your halal diet 📝
So how can we use nutrition to improve our sleep quality as Muslims? Here are five easy-to-implement tips:
- Eat a balanced diet, including foods that are rich in magnesium to help your body promote a deep and restful sleep
- Incorporate foods that are high in tryptophan, such as turkey, chicken, eggs, nuts and seeds into your diet, while avoiding excess in consumption. Make sure that your sources of protein are always halal
- Avoid foods that are high in sugar or refined carbohydrates, as well as caffeine, particularly in the hours leading up to bedtime
- Consider consuming a 'before bed' hot drink such as a Crescent Days Dream Stick into your bedtime routine which is high in Magnesium, L-theanine, L-Glycine and other sleep-friendly, natural ingredients.
- If you're struggling with sleep issues despite making dietary changes, consider speaking with a healthcare professional to rule out any underlying medical conditions, while also making dua (supplication) to Allah (SWT) for help.
As Muslims, we have a responsibility to take care of our physical and mental health, and getting a good night's sleep is a crucial part of that, and the net result of working on our health. By incorporating halal, nourishing foods into our diets and avoiding excess and indulgence, we can take steps to improve our night's rest whilst also adhering to key Islamic principles mentioned in both the Quran and Hadith.
A dua for sleep 🤲
Bismika rabbee wada'atu janbee wabika arfaa'auh, fa-in amsakta nafsee farhamha, wa-in arsaltaha fahfathha bima tahfathu bihi 'aibadakas-saliheen
In Your name my Lord, I lie down and in Your name I rise, so if You should take my soul then have mercy upon it, and if You should return my soul then protect it in the manner You do so with Your righteous servants.
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