The best foods to help you sleep better
We all know that getting enough sleep is one of the cornerstones for a healthy, happy body. Getting enough beauty sleep keeps us looking our best, too!
Yet, with our manic, frazzled lives and ever-growing to-do lists, many of us struggle to get enough sleep, tossing and turning well into the early hours.
Of course, if you do struggle to get enough sleep, then you will understand only too well on how this can affect the quality of your life. For starters, it can wreak havoc on your health and mental wellbeing. However, as well as trying a spot of meditation or calming Yoga before bed, there are also certain sleep-inducing foods you can add to your diet to help you drift off.
Here are our favourite foods to eat before bed time to ensure a calming, restorative night of sleep:
Best food to eat to get to sleep:
Eating a turkey dinner right before bed may be the last thing you want to do, but hear us out!
Protein-rich turkey is well known for making us sleepy and drowsy after eating (how many of us fall into a food coma after Christmas dinner, after all?) and, in fact, there have been countless studies to prove that turkey is associated with better sleep quality, and may even prevent us from waking in the night.
This is because it contains the amino acid Tryptophan, which increases the amount of the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin, our bodies produce. However, if you can’t face turkey, you could also try snacking on a banana, which is also rich in this amino acid.
If you struggle with sleep, why not try enjoying a slice or two of home-cooked turkey or a mashed banana on whole wheat bread or oat cakes before bed?
Sipping on chamomile tea is perfect for helping us to relax and wind down before bed. This is because it contains apigenin, a special antioxidant which is thought to bind to certain receptors in the brain which promote sleepiness and reduce insomnia.
Chamomile tea may also help to ease symptoms of depression, which can often cause insomnia and sleepless nights. And if that doesn’t convince you to switch your nightly mug of tea for a calming chamomile, then this herbal tea has also been linked to reducing inflammatory conditions, including cancer and heart disease, thanks to its high content of the antioxidant flavone.
Almonds are one of our favourite snacks, especially when it comes to helping us look our best! Yet they are less well-known for their sleep inducing qualities.
However, a handful of almonds may be the perfect bed-time snack because they are a source of sleep-inducing melatonin. They are also rich in magnesium, which is known for its relaxing and calming properties. Magnesium is also thought to lower our levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which can make sleep even more restless.
Walnuts may also be a great bedtime snack as, like almonds, they contain melatonin. However, they are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce inflammation and may also boost serotonin in the brain.
Tart Cherry Juice
Tart cherry juice may not sound like your ideal evening tipple, but it is renowned for helping to increase sleepiness and reduce insomnia.
This is because tart cherries are another natural source of melatonin (the hormone which regulates our internal body clock and prepares us for sleep), meaning it is the perfect drink to sip on come night fall.
Oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, are well-known for boosting skin, hair and brain health. Yet, did you know that these fish can also promote sleepiness, too?
This is because oily fish are rich in both vitamin D and omega-3s, a powerful combination which is thought to enhance sleep quality and also stimulate the production of serotonin, a sleep-boosting (and mood-boosting!) chemical in the brain.
If you struggle to eat enough fish, or are vegan or vegetarian, our special Aliol capsules contain a vegan-friendly form of omega-3 (found in the algae which fatty fish feed on), which can also help to reduce inflammation in the body.
Many of us reach for our beloved porridge when we first wake up, but did you know it can be good for a pre-bedtime mini meal too?
This is because its high carb content is thought to trigger drowsiness. However, if you can’t face a bowl of oats at bedtime (although you could try a savoury porridge dish!), then white rice is thought to have a similar effect. Studies have shown that Jasmine rice in particular is thought to trigger sleep quickly, although we should point out that white rice lacks fibre, which may mean you experience blood sugar fluctuations too.
If ever you needed another reason to load your dinner with greens, this is it! Lettuce is thought to be packed with sleep-inducing properties and may even affect the brain similarly to opium. If you don’t fancy a salad, you could always brew lettuce and mint leaves in water for a homemade, sleep-inducing tea!
A spoonful of honey can help you to drift into a deep and calming sleep. At least, according to researchers!
It is thought that the natural sugars in honey can slightly raise our levels of insulin, which allow tryptophan to enter the brain more easily. For the ultimate sleep booster, why not try adding a teaspoon of honey to your chamomile tea?
Of course, on the flipside, there are certain foods which we should avoid before bed if we want a peaceful and calm night’s sleep.
To avoid staring at the ceiling well into the early hours, we should give the following foods and drinks a miss at bedtime:
Foods to avoid before bed
It might seem a surprising choice, but a simple stick of celery acts as a diuretic, which could keep us dashing for the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Tomatoes are a popular choice for night-time meals, but they contain tyramine, an amino acid that causes our brain to release norepinephrine, which stimulates brain activity and delays sleep.
Foods which are high in fat, such as pizza or fried foods, can take longer to digest and therefore disturb our natural sleep patterns.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but your nightly glass of wine may be doing more harm than good! Although alcohol may help to send you to sleep, it can disrupt sleep later on in the night and even affect the amount of REM sleep we are enjoying.
This one goes without saying, but coffee, tea or energy drinks can make us feel wired, causing us to toss and turn all night long. Similarly, dark chocolate also contains caffeine and could also affect our ability to drift off.
Versatile chickpeas are packed with plant proteins, but also contain vitamin B6, which helps the body to produce melatonin. As well as helping to lull us to sleep, melatonin is also thought to have antioxidant properties. Try adding chickpeas to homemade curries, soups or our homemade Basil Hummus to reap the rewards.
Fresh herbs such as fragrant basil can help to calm the body, preparing you for sleep. Add into homemade pestos or sauces, or try our Chickpea Basil Hummus, for a bedtime snack to help reduce tension.
Foods such as curry or those containing hot sauces or spices may wreak havoc on our digestive systems, or cause heartburn, meaning we are in for another restless night.
Check over on our recipes for a recipe to have you dreaming away in no time at all.