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Which foods help or hinder sleep?
If you’re struggling to sleep, you’ll no doubt be wondering why. Perhaps you’ll put it down to stress and anxiety, you might think you need to change your mattress or bedding, but did you know it might be because you’re eating something that doesn’t agree with you?
When micronutrients are manipulated, they can provoke sleep deprivation. At the same time, the things you eat can affect your sleep positively, so it might be time to swap out some ingredients.
To help, here is a list of the best and worst things to eat if you’re looking for a full night of shut-eye.
Bad foods for sleep
So obviously caffeine is bad for sleep. It not only stops you from falling asleep, but it can impact the quality of your sleep, too. You might think caffeine has no impact on you, but if your sleep is disrupted, we’d suggest dropping it from your consumption in the hours before you go to bed. It might change your life.
Don’t forget, caffeine isn’t just in tea and coffee, it’s also in chocolate, cola, and some medication.
By high fat, we don’t just mean burgers, fries, chicken nuggets, or anything fried in oil, but also healthy high-fat foods, like avocado and fish. High-fat foods send your body into digestion mode, which can lead to trips to the toilet, as well as an uncomfortable tummy.
Studies show that high-fat intake promotes lower sleep efficiency. People who consume lots of fat before sleep also experience less sleep in the rapid eye movement (REM) stage, which is important, because it is when we dream.
Put down the vindaloo. Eating hot sauce and peppers before bed raises your core temperature, which can affect your sleep.
Spicy foods are acidic, which means they could also cause discomfort in the abdomen or heartburn. If you’re in pain, you’re going to find it difficult to fall asleep. If you’re struggling to nod off and you’re loading your dinner with chilies and spicy sauce, cut back. You might be surprised what a big difference it makes.
Too much salt is bad for you anyway, but eating it before bed can significantly impact your sleep quality. A study by the European Society of Endocrinology found that foods like salted nuts were terrible to eat just before bedtime. You should avoid these foods two or three hours before bed.
Eating sugary foods before bed sends your blood sugar levels flying, then they crash whilst you sleep. This alerts your adrenals to an emergency, which increases your stress hormone cortisol, which can wake the body from slumber. Avoid ice cream and other sweet treats before bed.
Good foods for sleep
Almonds are a source of the hormone melatonin, which regulates your internal clock, so they are an excellent food to eat before sleep.
There are many other benefits to almonds, too, because they contain phosphorus, riboflavin, and manganese, which are all essential for human health. They’re also loaded with anti-inflammatories, which can protect your body from many chronic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease.
Kiwis are not only low-calorie and nutritious, but they’re also one of the best foods to improve sleep quality. On average, adults who consume two kiwifruits one hour before bed fall asleep 42% quicker than when they don’t eat anything. They’re also more likely to sleep through the night, and for longer.
Whole grain oatmeal
Oatmeal is high carb and contains fiber. When consumed before bed, it’s reported to increase drowsiness. Oatmeal contains melatonin, which is great for your body clock. It’s also rich in calcium and magnesium, which have been proven to promote sleep quality. Oats are perfect when combinen with other sleep-inducing ingredients, like almonds, bananas, and honey.
Tryptophan rich foods
Tryptophan is in nuts, seeds, bananas, and honey. It increases serotonin, which increases melatonin, which regulates sleep and mood chemicals. In fact, a diet low in tryptophan has been linked to mood disorders, so it’s important you make sure you’re getting it.
You can buy tryptophan as a supplement because it is prescribed specifically as a sleep aid, but we’d always recommend trying the natural solution, first.
Tart cherries/ tart cherry juice
Tart cherries are sometimes known as sour cherries, and they also make our list of good foods for improved sleep. Not to be confused with sweet cherries, this kind has a distinct flavour. They are also sold as a juice.
Tart cherries contain an above-average concentration of melatonin, a hormone that aids with regulating circadian rhythm. This promotes healthy sleep. Studies have found that tart cherries have the ability to improve the length and quality of your sleep, and also reduce insomnia. So by having a glass of tart cherry juice, concentrate, or a tart cherry supplement at some point in the day, you can help your body get the well deserved rest it needs.