What you eat, as well as when you eat, plays an important role in determining the quality of sleep you get each night. Most people know that it is best to try and stay up for a couple of hours after eating so that your body has time to digest the meal before going to sleep. This is a good start, but there are more things you can do, or avoid, to help you get the perfect night’s sleep!
What hinders sleep?
- Avoid caffeine for several hours before bedtime. If you love a night time cup of tea, try opting for a herbal tea or decaffeinated tea. Rooibos is a great alternative milky tea that is naturally caffeine free. Camomile is known to be soothing and relaxing and can actually help you unwind ready for a good night’s sleep.
- Eating saturated fats and foods high in sugars are also linked to lighter and less restful sleep as they provide your body with a high boost of energy.
- Spicy foods can hinder sleep by causing acid reflux or digestive problems, so avoid eating spicy food for a few hours before sleep.
- Try to avoid drinking too much liquids of any kind, especially if you find that you wake up often in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. Even though it is true that we often wake up a little dehydrated in the mornings, drinking too much before sleep will only work to disrupt your sleep by making you need to get up to pee! So instead keep a big glass of water by your bed for you to drink first thing in the morning.
What helps sleep?
- At night time opt for protein rich foods that are high in the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan helps stimulate the hormone melatonin which acts to induce sleep. Good food options include seeds, nuts and poultry.
- B6 is another vitamin that is important for the production of melatonin, which is essential for sleep. So having foods such as tuna or pistachio nuts with your dinner can also be conducive to catching more Z’s.
- Foods rich in magnesium are also beneficial for a good night's sleep, which makes almonds a good evening snack option.
- Some types of lettuce, in particular Romaine or ‘cos’ lettuce, contains lactucarium which works as a natural sedative. So having a green salad with your dinner is a great way to help support a good night sleep!
- As I mentioned before, chamomile tea is a good option. It has been linked to the production of glycine which is a chemical that acts like a mild sedative by relaxing your muscles and nerves. So if you need that little extra help in the evenings to ensure a deep and restful sleep, try a soothing cup of chamomile before bed.