Are you struggling to get quality Zzz’s but not sure what to do? Aside from investing in a high-quality mattress and pillows to support your body, you should also watch what you eat before you hit the hay to encourage the timely release of those all-important hormones involved in your sleep-wake cycles.
Turkey is high in an amino acid called tryptophan which is great for sleep (now we understand that compulsory post-Christmas lunch snooze!). The reason being is that tryptophan leads to the production of serotonin - one of the key hormones which govern our sleep-wake cycles, meaning you can get to sleep more easily. Not only that, turkey is a great source of lead protein making it all round good-egg for your health and wellbeing.
Carbohydrate-rich foods like bread, pasta or rice combined with tryptophan containing food actually help your brain absorb the tryptophan and therefore release serotonin into your body at a faster rate - turkey sandwiches, here we come!
Not only do cherries taste great but they are also great for helping us get to sleep! The reason behind this is that cherries are one of the few natural foods containing melatonin; another important hormone regulating our sleep cycles. Melatonin levels increase as light reduces, acting as a cue for our bodies to wind down and anticipate sleep - so the more you have the easier you will fall asleep.
Magnesium rich foods
It is hypothesised that magnesium can help to improve sleep quality in people suffering from insomnia and it is shown that adults with low levels actually find it harder to stay asleep, too. Foods like almonds, avocados and bananas are a great source of magnesium - and they are super healthy and tasty as well!
“But I’ll have nightmares if I eat cheese before bed”, we hear you shout! This old wives tale should be swept aside as dairy is a great source of calcium which, in itself, helps our brains to utilise tryptophan to trigger the release of our sleep-related hormones. There are also studies which suggest that calcium deficiencies make it harder to fall asleep, so say yes to that cheese board at the end of a dinner party!
High GI foods
Sweet things like honey and popcorn tend to have a high glycemic index, which means they cause spikes in your insulin. Whilst high GI foods are generally considered to be bad for a healthy diet, spikes in insulin also help tryptophan to get into your brain faster, to get you drifting off to sleep in no time.
Any fish with high levels of vitamin B6 will help you to get to sleep as it is involved in the production of melatonin in your body. You can also get the necessary levels of B6 from foods like pistachios, eggs and pork.
It is well understood that chamomile tea helps people to drift off, but not many know the science behind it! The reason chamomile tea is so well recommended for a restful sleep is that it causes an increase in glycine, which relaxes your muscles to help you de-stress and unwind. Why not put a teaspoon of honey in it too, to give your insulin levels the spike your brain needs to absorb the tryptophan?
Perhaps less well known as a sleep inducer is passion fruit tea. It is believed that the high levels of alkaloids in passionfruit flowers can also have a relaxing effect on your nervous system, helping you to feel tired.
Soy-based snacks have high levels of isoflavones which increase the production of serotonin. Not only will you be saving the planet with a vegetarian tofu based dinner, but you will be getting some high quality, deep sleep too!
So, why not try snacking on a few of these foods before you sleep to help you wake up feeling well rested and ready to take on the world!