Studies have shown that the trick to getting a good night's sleep might be in your supper - here are the top 7 foods that will help you get the shut-eye you deserve
How well did you sleep last night? Not being able to sleep is a common problem in the UK, whether you have problems drifting off in the first place or constantly wake, toss and turn through the night. There are those who go for a mindless midnight walkabout or others who just simply can’t seem to ‘ switch off’ .
In an ideal world experts suggest that adults need between eight to nine hours of sleep for peak daily performance. However, statistics gathered from the Great British Sleep Survey back in 2017 suggest as many as 51 per cent of us struggle to nod off, with most only managing to clock in around 6 hours each night. Interestingly, the study also found that women are three times more likely than men to suffer – with 75 per cent of women reporting problems, compared to just 25 per cent of men.
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And it’s not just the Monday morning drowsiness that you have to worry about when a night of tossing and turning strikes. A constant lack of sleep can lead to a whole host of serious health and mental problems ranging from diabetes and obesity to memory loss and even depression.
Now we’re all accustomed to the typical solutions designed to act as sleep saviours - relaxing aromatherapy baths, a digital device detox or introducing a regimented sleep pattern. However, it’s come to our attention that getting a night of peace and quiet could be solved by a bit of good grub. Research has shown that there are a number of food and drinks that contain naturally occurring substances that work to give Mr Sandman the helping hand he needs.
So, to help give you a nudge into the land of nod, we reached out to Nutritional Expert and Founder of Plenish Cleanse, Kara Rosen , to find out her top foodie suggestions for getting you your 40 winks.
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“A diet rich in tryptophan can increase levels of serotonin, the precursor to melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness),” says Kara. “Melatonin is the hormone that regulates circadian (daily) rhythms and governs sleep-wake cycles.” By activating certain types of chemical receptors in the brain, melatonin and tryptophan can help encourage sleep.
“Sour cherry juice is an excellent source of melatonin - just a dash will be enough!”
Chicken and the egg
“Both eggs and organic free-range chicken are the best animal sources of melatonin,” says Kara.
“ Our Plenish nut milks with cashews and almonds are a great alternative to vegetable based juices that will help you to get your fix of the natural sedative, tryptophan.”
“Snack on bananas or add chickpeas and sesame seeds to your salads,” says Kara. “They will help regulate your circadian rhythm for an uninterrupted night’s sleep.” In particular, bananas are jam packed with potassium and magnesium - two minerals that promote muscle relaxation to help you drift off.
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Green is good
“Spinach, cos lettuce, kale and broccoli are excellent sources of folic acid, magnesium and vitamins B6 and C - which are all key co-factors in neurotransmitter functioning,” says Kara. “Spinach and parsley also contain glutamine, which is an important precursor in neurotransmitter pathways that regulates sleep-wake cycles.”
A glug of glucose
“Low glucose can also impair sleep, so ensuring your final meal of the day is a good combination of protein and carbohydrates will help to maintain more consistent blood glucose levels during the night. Combining high-protein foods with carbs also causes the body to release insulin, which makes it easier for tryptophan to break through the brain’s barriers.
“Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and refined sugar after mid-afternoon,” says Kara. “Try swapping out that coffee with a juice instead. Adding fresh herbs to your drinks is a great trick for making even the most hardcore green juices super tasty - not to mention they’re also an excellent source of vitamin K and antioxidants.” For a night of pure bliss try Kara’s super juice recipe below:
- 5 cups spinach
- 4 cups Cos lettuce leaves
- 5 cups kale
- 3 cups broccoli pieces (florets and stems)
- 1 cup parsley
- 1 cup basil
- 8 tbsp fresh lemon juice