If you’re struggling to get a good night’s sleep right now, it’s likely that the heat is playing a large part in keeping you awake. But if you struggle to drift off generally, there may be some tweaks you can make to your diet to help you catch a much-needed snooze.
It’s incredibly frustrating when you can’t get to sleep, but more importantly, the knock-on effects of sleep deprivation can have a big impact on your physical and mental health. While there are plenty of tricks and tips you can incorporate into your routine to help, such as taking a bath before bed, cutting down on caffeine, banning digital devices and diving into a good book, it may also be the case that the key to a blissful slumber lies in something you can eat.
So, what should we be tucking into before we tuck ourselves in? Let’s take a look.
Water-rich refreshing fruits like watermelon, cantaloupe, pears and oranges are all great choices to help keep you hydrated and satiated. The natural sweetness can help to curb cravings for something sugary, while also keeping you feeling full from the fibre, keeping late-night hunger pangs at bay.
Pistachio nuts are little powerhouses, packed with protein, vitamin B6 and magnesium – all important for healthy sleep. A little of this high-calorie snack goes a long way though, with a 28g serving providing everything you need, so try not to exceed that or you’ll undo the good effects!
You might think of it more as a breakfast option, after sleep, but oatmeal is actually a great option to choose before bed. The grains in oatmeal trigger the production of insulin, raising your blood sugar naturally and making you feel sleepy. Oats are also a rich source of melatonin, which helps to relax the body and prepare it for sleep.
Herbal teas are often recommended as a sleep aid, and with good reason, thanks to their natural sleep boosting qualities. Both ginger and chamomile tea are especially beneficial, offering hydration and soothing the stomach.
Don’t believe those myths about cheese giving you nightmares. A little dairy can actually be a great aid in helping you sleep better, thanks to the satisfying qualities of the protein. Particular types, like string cheese, are a good option as they aren’t too rich.
Naturally rich in magnesium and tryptophan – both of which help relax muscles and steady heart rhythm – almonds are a great option for a night time snack. A small tablespoon of almond butter spread on wholegrain crackers, apple slices or with banana makes a satisfying sleep-friendly snack.
A sweet and tasty source of sleep-promoting melatonin, cherries are a healthy option to help you nod off. Including them regularly in your diet can help to regulate your sleep cycle.
Bananas truly are a nutritional wonder food in so many ways. Rich in magnesium and potassium, they help to relax nerves and muscles, as well as converting tryptophan into serotonin, helping you feel even more relaxed.
Chocolate before bed? You don’t have to tell us twice. A couple of squares of dark chocolate, which contains serotonin, can help relax your body and your mind, helping you doze off.
That all important sleep chemical tryptophan can also be found in this delicious dip, along with protein. Try adding it into your diet more often to get those snooze-boosting benefits.
Could your diet be impacting your sleep?
Many of us have experienced a restless night because of eating too much or too late. When we eat a large meal, or perhaps something spicy or rich, our digestion needs to work overtime to process the food, which can make us struggle to sleep.
But if you have a food intolerance, this sensation can happen more often, even when you’re eating what appears to be light or nutritious meals, depending on what it is you’re reacting to. As the body reacts to the food it perceives as a threat, it works harder to fight it, using up energy and causing you to feel more tired that you otherwise would.
The feelings of fatigue can also be a symptom of the stress your body is experiencing from other more typical food sensitivity symptoms, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), cramps, and migraines. Tiredness can also arise from the body not being able to absorb certain nutrients from the food you’re eating, leading to lower energy levels.
Taking control of your diet
Poor sleep can be triggered by many factors. If you’re suffering with the symptoms outlined in this article, it’s important to talk with your GP to rule out anything serious.
If you suspect that something you’re eating could be causing issues that are contributing to your sleep struggles, it might be time to consider the foods you’re consuming.
Getting to the bottom of a food intolerance can be frustrating. Elimination diets, where you remove one ingredient at a time for a few weeks to see how you feel, can take a long time to reveal your triggers. As many of us react to between two and six ingredients, it can be a while before you’re able to see the bigger picture.
Our home-to-laboratory service, using ELISA plate testing, gives you fast, accurate results that pinpoint exactly which foods you are reacting to. Tests are completed in our accredited laboratory by trained experts with clear, easy to understand results sent to you by email within three days.