Sleep is a rare commodity nowadays, with two thirds of us admitting to suffering from disrupted slumber every night. If you’re a part of this rather hefty section of society, you’ve probably tried it all: sleep sprays, meditation, pre-bed rituals, the works. But have you ever considered that the secret to a better night’s sleep could lie in your diet?
‘There is a neurotransmitter – a chemical messenger – in our bodies called tryptophan, which modulates sleep’, says nutrition consultant Sana Khan. ‘Certain foods contain it naturally, and a few mouthfuls of one of them an hour or so before you go to bed can really help both with falling asleep and the quality of your sleep thereafter’. Anxiety is often a huge problem for insomniacs and whether it’s cause of effect, incorporating more magnesium into your diet can help relax the muscles, and by extension, your mind. ‘It’s a key mineral that, increasingly, I find clients are deficient in when I do tests’, says Khan. ‘Lots of people just aren’t getting enough of it in their diets’.
What To Eat For Better Sleep
Almonds and Walnuts
Not only do nuts like almonds and walnuts contain high level of magnesium, they’re a brilliant source of the sleep hormone melatonin, too.
‘A few mouthfuls of a slice of turkey breast an hour or so before sleep can really help’, says Khan. It’s all thanks to its high level of tryptophan and protein, both of which help to encourage a sleepy state of mind.
Research has shown that eating kiwi fruit regularly helps to improve both the amount and quality of sleep we enjoy, thanks to its high levels of antioxidants.
High in tryptophan, cottage cheese is a good food to incorporate into your diet if you struggle with disrupted sleep. Try combining it with another sleep-friendly food, like melatonin-rich raspberries, for a supercharged effect.
A brilliant source of melatonin, eating a couple of dates can help to lull the body into sleep while also keeping blood sugar balanced as you snooze.
Packed full of magnesium, potassium and tryptophan, a banana is your ticket to a relaxed mind and peaceful sleep – swap sugary evening desserts for this calming powerhouse.
Swap your normal caffeine for chamomile – it helps calm the mind, decreasing anxiety and stress, while inducing the nice kind of drowsiness, thanks to an antioxidant called apigenin.
High in vitamin B6, fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines or trout encourages the body to produce melatonin, helping you to get sleepier, quicker.
A hop cup of milk has long been used to comfort and relax young children at the end of a day, and for good reason. Not only is it filled with tryptophan, calcium is also known to help us drift off.