The quality of your sleep affects your health and eating the wrong things before bed can keep you up during the night. Sleep quality and duration can affect a wide array of conditions, including: obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and hypertension. Several foods and drinks may help. This is because they contain sleep-regulating hormones and brain chemicals, such as melatonin and serotonin. This means that they may help a person both fall and stay asleep.
Today we take a look at which foods aid sleep.
Eating tips before sleep
- If you feel hungry do eat something before your body starts to wind down. Going to bed on an empty stomach drops blood sugar levels and interferes with your body's ability to sleep optimally.
- Avoid eating late at night where possible, your body will be converting food into energy. Make sure you have your bedtime snack no later than 30 minutes before you turn in. If you have reflux, it’s a good idea to avoid eating anything for at least 3 hours before lying down in bed.
- Pay attention to portion control, large portions disrupt digestion. Try to eat smaller portions later in the evening.
- Avoid stimulants that will keep you up at night such as sugars or caffeine.
The best foods to aid sleep
Almonds, along with several other types of nuts, are a source of the hormone melatonin. Melatonin regulates your internal clock and signals your body to prepare for sleep
Almonds contain high levels of melatonin, a hormone which helps regulate the sleep and waking cycle. A 1-ounce (oz) serving of whole almonds also contains 77 milligrams (mg) of magnesium and 76 mg of calcium, two minerals that may help promote muscle relaxation and sleep. Almonds are also a healthful evening snack, as they are high in good fats and low in sugar and saturated fats.
Walnuts may also be a great choice.
2. Chamomile tea
Chamomile tea makes you feel sleepy and can be a healthy way to help fall asleep. Chamomile is chock full of an antioxidant called apigenin which is believed to decrease anxiety and help you drift off into the land of nod.
Numerous studies have shown that chamomile delivers real sleep benefits and not just duration of sleep. In one study concerning new mothers, those who had chamomile extract reported better nights sleep.
Turkey is delicious and nutritious, and has a few properties that explain why some people become tired after eating it or think it encourages sleepiness.
Unfortunately you’d have to eat 20 servings of turkey to equal one recommended dose of your daily tryptophan. That’s a lot of trips to the buffet! We don't recommend over indulging before bedtime, but a small turkey snack certainly won't do you any harm.
4. Kiwi fruit
Kiwis are a low-calorie and very nutritious fruit. Research suggests that eating kiwi fruit may have significant benefits for sleep. Researchers at Taiwan’s Taipei Medical University studied the effects of kiwi consumption on sleep. They found that eating kiwi on a daily basis was linked to substantial improvements to both sleep quality and sleep quantity. In a 4-week study, 24 adults consumed two kiwifruits one hour before going to bed each night. At the end of the study, participants fell asleep 42% more quickly than when they didn’t eat anything before bedtime.
What’s behind the possible benefits of kiwi to sleep? There are a couple of characteristics of the fruit that may make it a strong sleep-promoting food: its high antioxidant levels and its high serotonin levels. It’s also been suggested that the anti-inflammatory antioxidants in kiwis, such as vitamin C and carotenoids, may be partly responsible for their sleep-promoting effects.
5. Tart Cherries & Cherry Juice
Tart cherry juice may be a safe and effective way to treat insomnia and increase the amount of sleep you get each night.
Studies have found sleep benefits for people who drink tart cherry juice. In one study, people who drank two one-cup servings of tart cherry juice per day were found to have more total sleep time and higher sleep efficiency.
These benefits may come from the fact tart cherries contain a good amount of tryptophan and anthocyanins, two compounds that may help the body create melatonin and lengthen its effects.
6. Warm milk
Warm milk is a common home remedy for sleeplessness. Milk contains four sleep-promoting compounds: tryptophan, calcium, vitamin D, and melatonin.
However, the childhood association that many people have between a warm cup of milk and bedtime may be more effective than tryptophan or melatonin in promoting sleep. Like a cup of tea, having a warm cup of milk before bed can be a relaxing nightly ritual.
7. Valerian Root
You’ll find this unusual ingredient in many herbal blends. Originally, this tea was used during air raids in World War II to help calm stress and anxiety, but those properties have been utilised more recently to help those who struggle with insomnia to relax. Valerian root is actually the most popular herbal sleep aid in the US and Europe. It’s believed that this tea increases gamma-aminobutyric acid, also known as GABA, a neurotransmitter known to increase sleepiness – which is also used in some anxiety medication.
Getting enough sleep is incredibly important for your health and a wide variety of foods contain nutrients, chemicals, and other compounds that help our body’s sleep cycle.
Last week we learned which foods you shouldn't eat before bedtime, so now we should be able to consciously make a few changes which can improve our sleep. To get the potential benefits of some sleep-promoting foods, try eating them a few hours before bed to reduce the risk of indigestion and acid reflux.
If you would like some further tips on getting a better nights sleep then be sure to check out some of the other insightful articles on our blog. Alternatively please do browse our website shop where we offer our beautiful range of luxury sleep accessories which are sure to help you create the perfect sleep sanctuary and get a better night's sleep.