Warm weather, cold weather, stress, even a snoring partner! All of these can compromise our precious forty winks. The benefits of a good night’s sleep go beyond keeping the crankiness away at work.
When we sleep, our body takes time to repair itself from the toils of the day. From fixing muscle tears caused by workouts to keeping our immune system healthy, sleep is integral to our health. It also plays a role in how we look – during slumber, the body draws moisture back into the cells, giving our skin a plumper, wrinkle-free appearance. So there’s a lot at risk if we miss out on those eight hours!
Eat your way to better sleep
Tossing and turning can plague us all from time to time. It might sound a little far-fetched, but choosing the right foods can actually help you sleep! Start your journey to a better lifestyle and improved sleep by adding these superfoods to your diet.
This snacking food is teeming with vitamins and minerals – 19 to be exact – so there’s a lot more than just a better night’s sleep. While walnuts can reduce cholesterol, they also provide the omega 3 fatty acid alpha lipoic acid, which is converted to docosahexaenoic acid in the body. This conversion process helps to produce serotonin, which regulates our sleep cycles.
Eggs and poultry
It turns out, there’s a reason why we all need a nap after the Christmas turkey! Turkey, alongside other poultry and eggs, is a rich source of tryptophan. As the body cannot make tryptophan itself, we must source it from our diet. This amino acid increases serotonin levels.
Another source of tryptophan, bananas also contain high levels of potassium. This key mineral helps the nerves and the muscles communicate with each other, while also aiding the elimination of toxins – all key functions that take place while we sleep.
Beans come in many different forms and are key to our health, from aiding digestive function to helping us get a better night’s sleep. The latter is thanks to their folic acid and B vitamins, all of which boost that magical hormone once again, serotonin!
We’ve talked about serotonin, but what about melatonin? Though traditionally served as a breakfast food thanks to their slow release carbohydrates, oats have many other benefits. One of these is that they are a great source of melatonin. Serotonin is the precursor to the sleep hormone melatonin, and some experts even recommend oatmeal before bed to bring on those yawns.
Is there anything more comforting than a cup of warm milk before bed? At last, science backs this up! Calcium, which is also present in other dairy products such as cheese, encourages tryptophan production, which leads to melatonin production. It can also help to relax the muscles – great for when stress is getting the better of us.
There’s a reason the Mediterranean diet is so healthy – part of it is down to those key B vitamins. Oily fish such as salmon, tuna and halibut are high in vitamin B6, which helps us to produce serotonin and melatonin.
This is no excuse to drink wine by the bucketload. If anything, alcohol will hinder your sleep! Instead, try snacking on grapes as a healthy alternative to sweets. Grapes contain high levels of melatonin, and go great with cheese if you want an extra sleep-inducing boost.
Ones to watch
Just as these superfoods will help you get your head down for a nap, other foods will do the opposite! For a great night’s kip, avoid the following:
- Spicy foods – these can irritate the digestive system and cause heartburn
- Chocolate – this contains caffeine, increasing alertness. Avoid as you would coffee!
- Heavy, high fat meals – these add extra stress to the digestive system
Know your vitamins
You’ll find many of the abovementioned vitamins in collagen supplements. Ellactivacontains vitamin D3, which increases the production of serotonin, as well as calcium, which helps the brain to produce melatonin.
For the best night’s sleep, try to leave four hours between eating and going to bed. Avoid heavy amounts of fluid after 8pm to stop those night time visits! Finally, keep the screens out of the bedroom: remember, it is a safe haven of tranquillity, not a hub of activity.