HOW TO get to sleep: There are many varying opinions surrounding the positive effects of eating certain foods before going to bed. So what should we be eating before bed to ensure a good night’s sleep? Here’s what the nutritionists say.
According to nutritionists, food and drink containing amino acid tryptophan – which produces sleep-inducing neurotransmitters serotonin and melatonin – magnesium and potassium, are the best sources to help you sleep well.
Frida Harju-Westman, nutritionist at health app Lifesum, lists ten of the best foods and drinks to help you sleep.
Dairy products are rich in tryptophan, which produces serotonin and melatonin.These neurotransmitters relax your brain by slowing down nerve transmissions, making a glass of warm milk “one of the best natural remedies for sleep deprivation”, according to Harju-Westman.
Camomile tea contains apigenin, a flavonoid which slows down the brain, and glycine, which relaxes nerves and muscles.
Bananas contain muscle relaxants magnesium and potassium, as well as tryptophan which transmits the feeling of tiredness to the brain.
Several studies have proven that tart cherries considerably increase the levels of melatonin in the body, according to Harju-Westman, adding that Montmorency cherry juice – a sour variety of cherry – can help you sleep nearly 40 minutes longer than usual.
Grapes are rich in potassium, magnesium and melatonin. However, much of the melatonin is lost in the production of wine, warned Harju-Westman.
Quinoa has a high magnesium and protein content, and also as a carbohydrate releases insulin into the body which is needed to carry tryptophan to the brain.
Honey helps the liver to store glycogen, which is important because when the liver’s supply of glycogen runs out, the body starts to convert protein to muscle by producing stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenalin.
“If this occurs in the night, sleep can be disturbed so try adding honey to a cup of boiling water for a soothing bedtime drink,” said Harju-Westman.
Almonds are rich in magnesium and tryptophan, and also supply the body with protein, helping to stabilise blood sugar levels whilst sleeping.
Green leafy vegetables such as kale provide a healthy dose of calcium, helping to turn the amino acid in the brain into melatonin. They also contain lots of magnesium.
Flaxseeds increase the levels of serotonin in the body due to their high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and tryptophan. They also contain magnesium.