Do you toss and turn in bed all night, desperately trying to get a few hours kip? The solution could be in the kitchen and not the bedroom. Throw the sleeping pills in the bin and get your cutlery at the ready…
Don’t panic. You don’t need to overhaul your entire life. A few small changes can make a BIG difference. You’ll be getting your much needed 7-9 hours in no time.
What you SHOULDN’T be doing
Coffee: Caffeine is a stimulant and your sleep’s worst enemy. It blocks sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain and increases adrenaline levels. Even when you think the effects are long gone, caffeine will remain in your body 6 hours later! That post-lunch latte could be keeping you awake late at night. If you’re a coffee lover that can’t live without your pick-me-up, avoid drinking coffee after 2pm.
Alcohol: Alcohol may be touted as a traditional nightcap but it doesn’t amount to real sleep. Alcohol is claimed to help you nod off quicker and increase the amount of deep sleep you get during the first half of the night. But there’s a catch. You’ll have a less restful sleep later in the night, with less Rapid Eye Movement sleep (REM). REM sleep is when your dreams happen and is considered as an important part of recovery so you feel well rested to tackle the world the next day.
Fatty food: Fat-laden food can be a pain to digest, which will keep you awake at night. Large amounts of fat can cause a decrease in a chemical called hypocretin, which affects our sleep cycle. This chemical helps you stay awake throughout the day and its absence can leave you snoozing all day and sleepless all night. Of course not all fats are created equal. Consuming healthy fats is a vital part of a balanced diet. Serve the saturated and trans fats, and don’t go too crazy, too late in the evening.
What you SHOULD be doing
Eat early: Never sleep on a full stomach. If you lie down after a heavy meal, it’s going to be taxing on your body and you’ll wake up feeling groggy. This is because your body uses energy to digest food and prevents your normal sleep mechanism hormones from giving you rest. For your food to digest properly, have your dinner at least 2 hours before sleeping and you’re planning a large meal in the evening make sure it’s no later than 6pm.
Rice: Consider having a small amout of brown rice for dinner. The gradual release of insulin can aid the production of an amino acid (tryptophan) that helps you sleep. Not all carbs are the same, however, as pasta and noodles may actually keep you up, so be sure to steer clear.
Chamomile tea: More science incoming… chamomile plant contains a compound called apigenin. This compound has been proven to reduce locomotor activity (that’s movement, for non-scientists). Stress and anxiety can prevent you from being able to relax, preventing your from sleeping. If you’ve got restless legs at night, they’re full of chemicals that are telling them to contact. Chamomile counteracts this by increasing certain amino acids. Chamomile is pretty well known for its sedative effect, so why not give it a go? Try having a cup 30 mins before bed. Just don’t drink too much; you don’t want to be rushing to the loo in the middle of the night.
Fruit and Vegetables: Some fruit and veggies contain melatonin – a powerful hormone that regulates your sleep cycle. Cherries contain the highest amount of melatonin. Sour cherries pack the biggest melatonin punch, followed by sweet cherries and then dried cherries (which contain none at all). Bananas will give you a vitamin B6 boost. This vitamin increases serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps you sleep. You may already know that bananas are a source of potassium and magnesium too, but did you know that this can relax your muscles? Dark leafy greens are a good call too. They contain a ton of calcium, which aids the production of melatonin, so your lunchtime salad bowl may be helping with more than just your health goals.
We’re huge advocates of fruit and veg at GreenJinn, which is why we regularly have offers for them on the app to get Britain saving and healthy! They’re not just good for weight management, they contain a whole host of nutrients that help you stay energised, sleep well and live longer! You simply can’t get the same long-term effects from sleeping pills or other supplements. There are no quick fixes when it comes to health and wellbeing, but your sleeping issues are not permanent! You can get the dreamy night’s sleep you deserve. Try these tweaks to your diet and start getting some zzz’s.
What have you found helps you get to sleep at night? Tell us your sleep-aiding tips in the comments below!