Eating Yourself to Sleep

We all have sleepless nights when we toss and turn and just can’t seem to nod off. Interestingly this could well be down to the foods that we eat during the day. By changing our diet and eating more ‘sleep friendly’ foods we could get a much better night’s sleep.

Poultry and nuts

Think about how you feel post Christmas lunch. As though you could happily go to sleep. That’s because turkey and chicken contain high levels of tryptophan, which also boosts serotonin. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that acts like a natural mood regulator, since it has the ability to help the body produce and balance certain hormones naturally. Supplementing with tryptophan-rich foods or taking supplements helps bring on natural calming effects, induces sleep, fights anxiety and can also help burn more body fat.  Other good sources are beans, lentils, cheese, tofu, tuna, eggs, whole grains, nuts and seeds.


Bananas and leafy vegetables

Foods that are high in potassium and magnesium help to relax the muscles because a lot of people suffer from things such as restless legs. Good sources of magnesium include whole grains, nuts and dark green leafy vegetables. Potassium-rich foods include bananas, potatoes, apricots and milk.


A study last year by the University of Colorado Boulder found that prebiotic fibre, found in foods such as chickpeas, artichokes and leeks, and which feed “good” bacteria in the gut, may improve sleep. The study was done on rats, so it is too early to say whether it could work in humans.


A Columbia University study, using 26 volunteers, found that a diet rich in fibre – foods such as beans, lentils, berries and whole grains – may lead to better sleep, while a diet with a “greater intake of saturated fat and lower intake of fibre were associated with a lighter, less deep sleep profile”.

And when should you eat?

Smaller, regular meals are important for improved sleep.  Make sure you eat breakfast – it stabilises blood sugar and minimises your production of adrenaline and it will help produce melatonin later on.

(Information source: The Guardian)

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