We all know the feeling of tossing and turning restlessly in bed when we can’t sleep. Whether it’s the Sunday blues or the night before a big event, sleep deprivation is the last thing anybody needs. In addition to leaving you feeling irritated and unfocused, regular bad sleep can make you more susceptible to serious health problems like diabetes, obesity and heart disease. While there are countless strategies believed to contribute to a good night’s sleep, what you’re eating before bed could be having a significant impact on your ability to rest easy.
- Walnuts – Walnuts are a great health food, filled with 19 vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to your body. They are also naturally high in melatonin, an important sleep-regulating hormone. Instead of the cheeseboard, maybe try a handful of walnuts before bed for a night of better sleep.
- Honey – A teaspoon of honey can encourage your brain to release melatonin, that fantastic sleep hormone. Honey also makes the body stop production of orexin, a hormone that keeps you alert. Adding it to a bowl of cereal or to some chamomile tea could be the key to good sleep.
- Bananas – Many people eat bananas as a way to give themselves energy during exercise, however bananas contain a great many chemicals, some of which can also help you drift off. Magnesium, which bananas are filled with, relaxes the muscles and the fruit also contains melatonin and serotonin, leaving you relaxed and ready to rest.
- Kiwis – In addition to having a high serotonin content, kiwis are effective at reducing inflammation and improving digestive health. These are common factors in late-night discomfort, so a kiwi before bed could help to remove the barriers to sleep that many often face.
- Oats – Oats are another way of generating more melatonin in the body before sleep. In addition to their potentially sleep-improving qualities, oats go great with some of the other foods on the list, making an ideal pre-sleep meal that will give you all the nutrients and minerals you need to get some proper rest.
- Milk – Milk naturally contains tryptophan, an amino acid that promotes melatonin production in the body. The protein casein which is found in milk is also useful for overnight muscle repair which will help you feel more energised and rested when you wake up.
- Turkey – Another good source of tryptophan, turkey has been known to encourage an easier night’s sleep. There is also research to suggest that eating protein before bed can lead to less disruptive sleep throughout the night.
- Almonds – Almonds are a natural source of melatonin so eating a handful before bed is an effective, natural hit of this essential sleep hormone. Almonds also contain a significant amount of magnesium which, in addition to relaxing muscles, can block cortisol production in the brain. Cortisol is a stress hormone so reducing its production can help if you feel restless or anxious at bedtime.
Foods you should avoid
- Spicy foods – Spicy foods can contribute to heartburn and indigestion issues which can keep you up at night, preventing you from sleeping properly. Chilli peppers also contain capsaicin, a chemical which stops your body from regulating temperature properly. Eating spicy foods before bed can cause your body discomfort and make it harder for your body to rest.
- Cheese – There’s an element of truth to the myth of cheese giving you nightmares. Hard cheese contains tyramine, an amino acid that increases alertness in the brain. Eating a large amount of cheese before bed will keep your mind working overtime, stopping you from entering a deeper sleep or from sleeping at all.
- Alcohol – Though it may seem like a drink or two before bed helps us sleep, alcohol is damaging for your sleep cycle. Drinking alcohol prevents you from entering a deep sleep and regularly disrupts your sleep through the night. This is why people often feel exhausted when they wake up with a hangover. For a more restful sleep, avoid alcohol altogether before bed.
- Coffee- It goes without saying, but coffee should be avoided before bed for a better sleep. Anything with caffeine is likely to keep your brain active for longer and leave you tossing and turning in bed instead of falling asleep.
One in three people suffer from poor sleep habits. Regularly struggling to fall asleep can be a major source of frustration and stress. For a better night’s sleep, try out the foods on this list to see if they can provide a natural, peaceful rest at night.
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