How did you sleep last night? I hope you effortlessly drifted off into dreamland and clocked your perfect eight hours. If that wasn’t the case though, you are certainly not alone.
We are a nation of poor sleepers with nearly half of all Brit’s getting less than six hours a night. The bad news is that sleep quality impacts every aspect of our lives. From our performance at work and interactions with loved ones, to long term health and mental wellbeing. I have sacrificed many nights of slumber to work, stress, over-indulgences and, of course, my two resident sleep thieves, so I know how frustrating these nights can be and how crucial sleep it is to our overall wellbeing. Today, I want to show you how making a few nutritional adjustments can effectively combat poor sleep and insomnia. Trust me, it’s worth adding these ‘sleep super-foods’ to your daily diet. Once you start clocking more restorative z’s, you will be amazed at how fabulous you feel.
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that our body uses to produce serotonin and melatonin. Both these hormones help regulate your natural sleep patterns. You can think of melatonin as your ‘sleep hormone’ and serotonin as your ‘happiness hormone’. They are responsible for mental wellbeing and enthusiasm! Eating tryptophan rich foods every day will help your body produce both hormones. Thus enabling you to get the best night’s sleep possible. Foods rich in tryptophan include spirulina, spinach, watercress, mushrooms, asparagus, salmon, cod, tuna, turkey, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cashew, almonds, walnuts and legumes.
Tart cherry juice
Tart cherry juice is a natural source of melatonin. Drinking a shot each evening boosts melatonin levels in the body just when you need it most. This promotes good sleep quality and quantity, plus it tastes delicious! Other foods rich in melatonin are orange bell peppers, flaxseeds, tomatoes, fenugreek, mustard seeds, almonds, raspberries and goji berries.
Magnesium is an essential mineral, which plays a double role with sleep. When we don’t get enough magnesium (many of us don’t), our brains fail to rest properly at night, causing sleep disturbance. Magnesium is also responsible for relaxing our muscles. If you feel tense or your limbs are restless in bed, that’s a strong sign that you could be deficient. You can get more magnesium through your daily diet by eating swiss chard, spinach, wheat and rice bran, kelp, kale and prickly pears.
Chamomile has been consumed for its calming and sleep-inducing properties for centuries. The flavonoid ‘apinogen’ in camomile is responsible for its tranquillising effect. It binds to receptors in the brain and relaxes the central nervous system. Chamomile can also reduce the levels of stress hormones in the bloodstream. At high levels these hormones are well known to have a negative impact on resting at night. High levels of stress hormones cause delayed sleep onset and waking up in the middle of the night so it’s worth getting your levels tested.
Caffeine- a word of warning
I feel perkier just thinking about a cup of coffee. For many of us, that morning cup is a treasured ritual. However drinking too much can have disastrous effects on our sleep patterns. Most people don’t realise that a cup of coffee can affect body for between 8 and 14 hours! If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, try decaf, herbal tea or keep it to one cup very early in the morning.
I really hope this article has given you some insight into how you can help yourself get a better nights sleep with the foods you eat. When I help clients improve their sleep quality, I assess many areas of their lifestyles and daily routines. This allows me to develop a personalised nutritional plan to set them back on track. If you suffer from insomnia or regular night awakenings, then it’s well worth having your adrenal hormone levels tested and you will be amazed how quickly the problem can be resolved. Have you found that any particular eating habits or foods help you to sleep better or worse? I would love to hear your thoughts.