A good night’s kip enables your brain to work to its peak, boosts your immune system and keeps your weight optimum. Not only is sleep hugely restorative but it helps keep you happy too! Considering an early night already? It’s easy as 1 sheep, 2 sheep, 3 sheep…
Step 1: Flick the switch and turn off your brain Step 2: Hit the pillow and fall asleep Step 3: Snooze for as long as possible!
Eat right, so that you sleep tight
Get more protein on board.
Eating good quality protein will help to balance your hormones and ensure that you have optimum melatonin levels. Melatonin is the natural hormone which regulates your biological clock and simultaneously improves sleep quality.
Bored of chicken? Give venison a go!
Look out for low GI foods – vegetables, beans, whole grains and high protein foods.
They produce a slow, steady rise in blood insulin that helps tryptophan enter the brain. Your body then wastes no time in using tryptophan to make serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps induce sleepiness along with improving your mood.
But what is tryptophan?
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid which means it cannot be produced by the body alone, but must come from your diet.
(We recommend milk; it’s a great source of tryptophan and low GI. The age-old remedy really is a sleep solution!)
Something fishy helps too – especially salmon, halibut and tuna.
Most fish has vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin, the sleep inducing hormone. So seafood lovers can sleep easy, but what about the rest of you?
Luckily other vitamin B6 rich foods include bananas and chickpeas. Now there’s no excuse!
A double helping of whole grains will do the trick nicely.
Bulgar and barley are both rich in magnesium which is known as the relaxation and anti-stress mineral. Magnesium not only encourages relaxation but will help balance your system so you have better quality sleep.
CAUTION: If you consume too little, it will be noticeably harder to stay asleep.
But it’s not just whole grains. Dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish and avocado all boast large amounts of magnesium. You’re spoilt for choice!
You’ll need plenty of calcium rich foods such as green leafy vegetables or dairy foods.
Broccoli and kale are top of the leaderboard here. Some studies have suggested that being calcium deficient may make it difficult to fall asleep. So don’t forget that glass of hot milk or the new kid on the block, curly kale.
What can you wash all this goodness down with?
Sip on some tart cherry juice. This crimson thirst-quencher is another way to top up those melatonin levels which help fight insomnia. What NOT to eat and drink
No surprises here. Caffeine wins first prize as a stimulant which interferes with sleep.
Coffee, tea, chocolate and fizzy drinks all have caffeine. We suggest cutting out caffeine after 2pm. We recommend a breath of fresh air or a brisk walk instead!
FACT: 25g of dark chocolate has 25 mg of caffeine which is about the same as a quarter of a cup of coffee. It’s your choice…
Following closely behind is alcohol.
But a glass of wine makes me feel so relaxed and sleepy? Sure, but metabolizing alcohol releases sugar and cause many to over-heat.
Some studies have shown that alcohol disrupts REM sleep (rapid eye movement sleep) which is critical to a good night’s sleep. On top of that it’s extremely dehydrating, which leaves you back at square 1.
Stay away from the sugar!
If you eat sugary treats before bed, it also raises your body temperature and leaves you restless. Eating lots of simple carbohydrates and refined starches can continually cause glucose levels to spike and fall. This will affect insulin metabolism. The knock on effect is that the body’s circadian rhythms are disrupted and cause you to wake up in the night.
Steer clear of foods containing tyramine.
This amino acid is converted to noradrenaline by the body and is a brain stimulant. Doesn’t sound so bad? Not before bedtime, folks.
It’s hiding in foods such as pork, cheese, chocolate, aubergines, tomatoes, potatoes and wine. So look elsewhere when you’ve got the munchies before bedtime!
Now you know how to sleep tight, just don’t let the bed bugs bite!