5 Foods for A Good Night’s Sleep:
Anyone who’s trying to lose weight will know that a bad night’s sleep can wreak havoc with your diet. Sleep A lack of sleep can make you feel really grouchy, but what many people don’t know, is that it can also increase your desire to binge.
It’s a little known fact that if you don’t get enough sleep, your body will produce more of the hormone that increases your appetite (ghrelin) and less of the hormone that tells you to stop eating (leptin). In a nutshell, your body is telling you to grab some calories because it needs energy.
Reaching for the sleeping pills or finishing off that last glass of wine is unlikely to help you unwind naturally. So, is there anything else you can do? You bet!
What To Eat To Help You Sleep
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that here at Healthy, Happy, Slim, we advocate health through diet. So this week’s nutrition tip is about common foods that are known to be helpful for acute insomnia.
Most people tend to avoid eating fruit at night, but recent studies show that contrary to popular belief, eating certain fruits at bedtime could actually be one of the best ways to help improve the quality of your sleep.
The Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition published one such study just this week. The trials involved adults consuming two kiwi fruit every night, about one hour before they planned to go to bed. After only four weeks, the results showed that not only were subjects able to drift off much more quickly, but they also woke less frequently during the night time. This meant that they slept much longer, and far more soundly, than before they changed their routine.
Scientists believe that this may be because kiwis contain serotonin, a chemical used by your body to produce the sleep hormone melatonin. Both of these brain chemicals have been shown to help induce a feeling of natural sleepiness and relaxation. And it’s not just kiwis that are beneficial. Cherries and bananas also contain these sleep promoting hormones, so it would seem that a small fruit salad before bedtime could be just the ticket for a better night’s rest.
It may well be a good idea to have that fruit salad with a side order of natural yogurt, as yogurt has also been shown to help relieve problems of insomnia. This is because it contains tryptophan, an important amino acid which helps your body produce the right amount of serotonin and melatonin necessary for sleep. Tryptophan is found in a range of dairy products such as cottage cheese and milk. This may help to explain why many people find that having a milky drink at bedtime helps them drift off to sleep. Other foods which contain tryptophan include wholegrain brown rice, millet, tuna fish and pumpkin seeds.
Add a drizzle of honey to that bed time milky drink, and you have a powerful sedative combo. This is because honey contains a natural ingredient called orexin which helps the brain to switch off. It’s this particular chemical that makes honey a great natural sleep aid.
Sweet potatoes are a rich source of carbohydrates which are necessary for the release of insulin, (an important chemical which helps to carry tryptophan to the brain.) They also contain high levels of potassium which is known to help relax muscles.
Oily fish such as mackerel salmon and tuna could also turn out to be an insomniac’s best friends. This is because they contain not one, but two helpful chemicals that promote restful sleep. Vitamin B3 (otherwise known as niacin) helps your body make that essential sleep hormone serotonin, and they also contain the essential omega-3 fatty acids necessary for the proper functioning of the neurotransmitters required for the chemicals involved in sleep.
Of course we’re not suggesting that you should eat everything on the list an hour before bed and try to go to sleep on a full stomach! But by including one or two of these foods in your evening meal, and sticking to a sensible bedtime routine, they may be helpful in counteracting temporary sleep problems. As always, we recommend you seek professional medical advice if your sleeplessness persists.