What you eat in the hours before you go to bed can have a influence of how well you sleep.
Hormones regulate the sleep cycle. They tell our brains when to calm down and when to wake up. Two of these hormones are Serotonin and Melatonin.
Food intake plays a role in the regulation of both of these hormones. Healthy levels of Serotonin and Melatonin are important for good sleep. Melatonin is sometimes made from Serotonin.
There is an essential amino acid, present in some foods, called Tryptophan. It’s vital to the production of Serotonin, and by extension, Melatonin. Melatonin itself is also present in some foods.
Here is our guide to the best foods to help you get a good night’s sleep.
Soy products such as tofu, soya beans and soya milk are a rich source of Tryptophan. A nice milky drink made from soya milk is a great pre-bed snack.
Beef or Venison
Both of these meats provide a good source of Tryptophan. They also provide iron and vitamin B12 which can help with restlessness.
Not only is turkey a lean source of protein, it also contains high levels of tryptophan. If you have ever wondered why you feel sleepy after your christmas dinner, now you know!
The humble chickpea is the other part of hummus, and is also a good source of tryptophan. Hummus is turning out to be a good evening meal! Chickpeas are versatile, cheap, and packed with nutrients.
Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds (and others) are commonly found in the whole food section. They are great sources of Tryptophan. Try toasting them in a dry pan for a few minutes before sprinkling the over salads and stews.
Apart from being delicious, cherries contain a high level of melatonin. It doesn’t matter how you eat them either, they can be fresh, frozen, or from a can.
Packed with healthy fats and magnesium, nuts are a great addition to any diet. They also contain a fair dose of Tryptophan.
A bowl of oat porridge made with soya milk and you won’t go far wrong. Oats contain both Tryptophan and Melatonin as well as being slowly digested. They will help regulate your blood sugar levels during the night.
All wholegrains are a source of Tryptophan. They also contain complex carbohydrates and fibre. These will help regulate your energy levels throughout the night.
Bananas are a great source of magnesium and potassium which help your muscles to relax. That is why they are such a popular post-workout snack. They also contain reasonable doses of both Tryptophan and Melatonin.
A small amount of good quality protein, such as an egg, will help you feel full and satisfied throughout your sleep. It will also promote muscle repair.
There is an old wives tale that cheese causes nightmares. We can probably assign this one to people eating unsafe cheeses. In fact, cheese is a great source of tryptophan, but it also contains saturated fat, so a small piece is plenty.