Do you struggle to nod off at night? Did you know that diet actually plays a key role in contributing to a good night’s sleep? Here, we discuss how what you eat affects your sleep, the foods to avoid and those which will help you welcome those zzzs.
Incorporating certain foods into your food plan that are known for aiding relaxation and calming frayed nerves may help aid you for a good night’s sleep.
What you eat affects how you sleep. How many times have you gone to bed after a late dinner or a midnight snack, tossed and turned and had the most ferocious dreams all because of that late feast?
Become a tryptophan fan
Some foods actively contribute to a good night’s sleep because they contain tryptophan, an amino acid that the body uses to make serotonin.
Simply put, serotonin is a neurotransmitter that slows down nerve traffic so your brain isn’t revved up and raring to go.
By adding more foods containing tryptophan, a natural sedative, you are giving yourself a better chance of undisturbed rest.
Carbohydrates are particularly rich in this calming ingredient and many meal options can be planned that not only fit into your food plan but can also ensure you enjoy a safe passage to the land of nod.
Foods such as potatoes, gluten free pasta and bread, rice, eggs, seafood, chicken, turkey, gluten free cereals, buckwheat, seeds and nuts are high in tryptophan and are perfect snooze boosters, and can be, if over eaten, the reason why you have a 3pm office slump!
Try to have little snacks of these during the day or incorporate them into your evening meal to ensure you benefit from their in-built snooze facilities.
Of course going to bed hungry is a sure-fire way to ensure you’ll be counting sheep all night. So make sure your evening meal is satisfying and not too heavy in proteins, which will lay heavy on the stomach and could keep you awake.
If you do find you are hungry at bedtime, then great bedtime snacks could include:
- Houmous (homemade with garlic oil) with wholemeal gluten free pitta bread
- Wholegrain gluten free cereal with a little skimmed milk
- Porridge made with skimmed milk and raisins
- Peanut butter spread on crisp breads
Foods to avoid to get a good night’s sleep
If you don’t want to be tossing and turning all night, avoid the following:
- Caffeine-rich drinks such as tea, coffee and colas at bedtime
- Late night curries
- High protein foods late, such as large portions of red meat or full fat cheese
- Sugary drinks
- Cakes, chocolate and biscuits – these can play havoc with your blood sugar levels
- Some people sensitive to garlic may find that too much of this ingredient in their meals can upset their sleep pattern
Perfect snooze foods
And lastly before you drift off, meals that are high in carbohydrates and low to medium in protein will help you relax in the evening and could ensure you have the best chance of a good night’s sleep.
Try the following dinners for new ideas in the best in snooze food:
- Wholemeal GF pasta served with chicken, white sauce made from cornflour and milk, sprinkled with parmesan cheese
- Scrambled eggs with parsley
- Tofu/vegetable stir fry
- Houmous, (homemade) raw vegetables with wholemeal pitta
- Seafood/ pasta and salad
- Tuna salad / chicken sandwich
- Chilli with beans (not too spicy)
Herbal teas such as camomile or valerian have been found to be useful as night-time relaxants and many supermarkets and health food stores now stock a delicious range of bedtime teas that are worth exploring.
Eat regular meals and snacks of a wide variety of colours and flavours to achieve a range of essential nutrients.
If you have any concerns about how to get healthier please get in touch. We are experts in nutrition and able to assist you with all health issues.
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Information checked & correct on 16th May 2018.
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