Do you suffer from sleeplessness? It may be due in part to the kind of foods you’re eating in your waking hours. Some foods can also help you get a good night’s sleep, but which ones should you avoid, and which should you feast on for your bedtime snack?
A good night’s sleep is so important to the overall health of both our bodies and minds, with seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep a night being the ideal to aim for.
Foods to avoid before turning in for the night include
- Anything caffeinated – no explanation needed.
- Spicy foods – can cause heartburn, indigestion and acid reflux
- Foods with a high water content such as watermelon and celery – you will be up and down to the bathroom all night!
- Alcohol, which can disrupt your sleep cycle.
- Fatty foods can mess with your body’s production of orexin, which, like melatonin helps regulate your sleep/wake cycle.
What should you eat to ensure you get the best quality sleep? There are 4 main vitamins and minerals found in food that can help promote sleep: tryptophan, calcium, B6 and magnesium. Try some of these sleep nutrient rich foods on the list below.
Apples, bananas, peaches and avocado are rich in tryptophan, which the body eventually turns into the sleep hormone melatonin. Kiwi fruit is said to be one of the best fruits to aid sleep.
Almonds are an excellent source of magnesium, which may help improve sleep for insomniacs. They are also a source of melatonin. A handful before bed should be an adequate serving. Walnuts are also said to have sleep-inducing properties.
There are currently no scientific studies to show why some people claim turkey is a great food to promote sleep, but it does contain our old friend tryptophan, as well as protein, which may also induce tiredness. Just don’t eat too much before bed.
Tart Cherry Juice
Tart cherry juice has a high content of melatonin, which is perhaps why some sleep studies have shown it to be effective in helping people drift off. It’s also good for you, with antioxidants and lots of vitamin A. Bonus!
Yes, your mother was right, some warm milk before bed can help you nod off peacefully, due to the tryptophan content.
A little bit of peanut butter before bed could help you sleep. It contains niacin, which helps your body produce the feel-good hormone serotonin. It will help stop you waking from hunger during the night too, as it is rich in good trans fats which should help keep you feeling full.
Perhaps you should have salad as your bedtime snack, because lettuce contains lactucarium, which has sedative properties that affect the brain in a similar way to opium. If you don’t fancy a salad, you can try lettuce tea instead: simmer four large lettuce leaves in a cup of water for 15 minutes. Add some mint, and drink before bed.
The natural sugars found in honey will slightly raise insulin levels and allow tryptophan to enter the brain easier, according to nutritionist Lindsey Duncan. Try mixing it with warm milk to make a double strength sleep potion.