7 of the best foods to banish insomnia and help you sleep (plus what to avoid)
What you should (and shouldn't) eat before bed
There’s nothing worse than lying awake at night willing sleep to come. It can be hell on earth if it’s something that persists, which can affect your life in unimaginable ways.
Sleep disorders are on a sliding scale of severity, be it lying awake, feeling totally exhausted, being unable to drift off, or waking up countless times in the night. Not fun!
Insomnia suffers can live in a vicious cycle of self-perpetuating anguish that really does affect their whole lives. Yes, that bad.
Conversely, the usual stress at work, too much on our plate, worrying about our relationship, can also cause sleep disruption.
For many of us, we know and accept that these triggers that will affect our slumber. But, there are things you can do to help combat these, starting with what you eat before bedtime.
And frankly, anything that involves eating sounds good to us.
Foods That Help You Get A Good Night’s Sleep
Why? A handful of nuts can be the ideal bedtime snack. Having a protein boost before bed can help your body keep a steady blood sugar level through the night, so no tossing and turning with hunger pangs for you. Nuts also contain vitamin B6 and tryptophan, which can help induce the sleepy hormone your body has been searching for.
Why? Our super-nutritious yellow friend contains potassium and magnesium which both have a relaxing effect on the muscles and mind. Bananas also contain amino acid L-tryptophan, which can trigger ‘the feel good’ hormone, 5-HTP.
Why? Having something filling, nourishing and stabilising like an egg with help you to sleep the whole way through the night and keep the hunger pangs at bay.
Why? This one divides the internet, but we believe that a ‘hug in a mug’ (aka a hot milky beverage) can help you drift off. Hot milk can evoke childhood memories of feeling safe and comforted. So even though milk is rich in the amino acid tryptophan (the ‘feel good’ hormone), its mug-measures are fairly low. So when all else fails, bring on the subconscious childhood memories to make you snooze-happy.
Why? This also contains the amino acid tryptophan as well as calcium, which is known to have an effective calming effect, as it stabilises the stress-responsive nerve fibres in your brain.
Why? Oats are also rich in tryptophan but also contain vitamin B-6 and the natural sleep-aid melatonin. Oats can act as natures’ own sedative.
Why? If you’re the kind of person who needs a sweet treat before bed, try honey instead of sugar. The good stuff contains tryptophan and has a fuzzy-feeling effect over your mind and body.
The Chamomile Tea Conundrum…
Surprised? Often found in many ‘bedtime tea’ recipes for its sleep-inducing properties, but it is also a diuretic. This means you will most likely need to pee in the middle of the night. So you have to weigh up which is more important: getting to sleep or staying asleep, hmm.
Foods To Avoid If You Want A Good Night’s Sleep
Technically not a food, but it is high on the list of things to note if you want to catch some z’s. It’s commonly thought that having a couple of glasses of wine could help you drift-off quicker, but the type of sleep induced isn’t necessarily a restful one. In fact, it’s likely you will spend more time in the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) stage of sleep, which can leave us feeling fatigued despite having been in bed for a ‘normal’ length of time. Sound familiar? We’ve all been there, but for anyone struggling to manage their alcohol intake, Drink Aware can offer further advice.
Spicy food can raise your body temperature and bring on the night sweats, which wouldn’t be welcomed in the Land of Nod. Body temperature plays a role in the sleep cycle and it will try to regulate in the night so that you are comfortable. But if you are too hot thanks to the naga chillis in your Ruby Murray, then the sweats will kick in, in an attempt to cool you down. This process could inadvertently wake you up in a clammy state. Yuck!
The ye olde tales warn us about cheese giving us nightmares, but science is yet to prove this. What is a given is that cheese can cause indigestion, so whilst a cheese board may seem like the perfect end to your evening meal, it can cause dairy-curdling havoc with your stomach as you lie flat.
Finally, be sure to avoid caffeine and stimulants such as sugar and energy drinks, obviously.
Image credits: Pixabay