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9 Great Pre-Bedtime Foods To Improve Sleep

Foods To Improve Sleep

Struggling to sleep is a common and highly frustrating problem we all face at some point, some of us more frequently than others. What we eat matters, and certain foods and beverages can potentially help us catch those Zzzs. Keep reading to discover some of the things we can eat and drink to aid sleep.

Porridge

There we were, rudely confining porridge to the morning; it turns out, porridge is so much more than one of the great benefits of waking up early; it is high in carbs and fibre and has been said to promote sleepiness when eaten before bed. To add to this, oats are rich in melatonin.

Chamomile Tea

One of the things you’ll have no doubt heard of to drink before bed, and one of the less surprising items in this list, is chamomile tea. Chamomile tea contains an antioxidant known as apigenin. Apigenin is purported to bind to certain receptors in your brain that could induce feelings of sleepiness and resolve symptoms of insomnia. Before going to bed, then, try drinking a hot mug of chamomile tea (adding a small dash of honey for some sweetness), and you may find it helpful when your head hits the pillow.

Turkey

It looks like there really is no way to avoid slipping into a food coma on Christmas day; even if you practise all the self-restraint, you can manage and miss out on a few roasties. Why? Because turkey itself is believed to be a sleep-inducing food.

Turkey contains the amino acid you’ll be well-acquainted with by the end of this article: tryptophan. Tryptophan increases the production of melatonin, a hormone responsible for sleep.

In addition, consuming protein before bed has been linked to improved sleep quality and fewer occurrences of stirring during the night. Since turkey is a rich source of protein, this may bolster its ability to induce drowsiness.

Fatty Fish

Bad news, veggies: fatty fish is another great food to aid sleep. Fatty fish has a rich supply of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which the body uses in its regulation of serotonin. Serotonin is important for regulating the sleeping and waking cycle.

Walnuts and Almonds

Various nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, cashews and pistachios, have been tied to good quality sleep. Nuts contain melatonin alongside minerals like magnesium and zinc. One 2011 study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS) found that a combination of melatonin, zinc and magnesium helped manage insomnia in older adults and improved sleep. So, if you fancy a pre-bedtime snack and are looking for the added potential of improving your sleep, go nuts.

Dairy

All these years, we’ve been wrongly cautioned that cheese before bed guarantees you a sleep riddled with bad dreams. Alas, dairy products are actually known sources of tryptophan and can facilitate a good night’s sleep. A glass of milk, cottage cheese on an oaty cracker, or plain yoghurt are great examples of pre-bedtime snacks. 

Based on a 2014 study published by the BMC Geriatrics journal, milk has proved itself a promising sleep aid among older adults. When paired with light exercise, milk has been beneficial in tackling insomnia symptoms. If you’re lactose-free, try swapping cow’s milk for oat milk: as you’ll see in the next item on our list, oats are also an agent of sleep improvement.

Kiwi

Another unassuming item on this list is kiwi. It is not known exactly why or how, but kiwi is thought to improve sleep – a hypothesis validated by one 2016 study published in the Advances in Nutrition Journal found those who ate two kiwis before bed ended up falling into a quality sleep quicker and longer.

Also, Check – Trying to Improve Your Wellness Routine

Rice

A study based in Japan told us that adults who habitually ate rice slept better than those who opted for bread or noodles instead. From this and other anecdotal reports, we can draw a link between rice consumption and improved sleep.

Bananas

Banana peel contains tryptophan and bananas themselves contain magnesium. We’ve already seen how both of these ingredients can improve sleep.

Foods to Avoid Before Bed

Crisps

Crisps and salty nuts are best avoided before bed. Why? Because they are often very salty, which dehydrates the body and increases water retention, leaving you drained and fatigued.

Ice Cream

Often high in sugar, ice cream before bed will raise your blood sugar levels. The same applies to sweets and other sugary treats: when you’re asleep, your blood sugar levels will crash, which alerts your adrenal glands that there is an issue. In turn, your cortisol levels will increase, disturbing your peaceful slumber.

Spicy Food

Foods with a kick, like curries, mustard and hot sauce, all contain high levels of capsaicin. This chemical heightens body temperature by disrupting the body’s thermoregulation process, having a knock-on effect on sleep. The body also needs a lot of energy to digest the spices, meaning you’ll probably find it harder to enjoy a deep sleep after a spicy meal or snack before bed.

To Sum Up

Naturally, much more research is needed on the subject of food and drink and their association with sleep. Still, the above list could be useful if you struggle to sleep or are simply looking for the best foods to eat before going to bed. Each item contains sleep-regulating hormones and neurochemicals, such as melatonin and serotonin, or various sleep-enhancing antioxidants and nutrients, such as magnesium.

In order to get the best out of this list, we recommend leaving two to three hours before bed to try them. You don’t want to eat too close to going to bed; otherwise, you could be at risk of digestive problems.

Bon appe-sleep!

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