If you are having difficulty nodding off and fancy ditching the sleeping pills, the good news is there are plenty of natural foods that can help induce sleep.
Whilst there are some recommendations that it is best not to eat after 7pm, feeling hungry can keep you awake so sometimes a light snack doesn’t hurt.
From bananas to cheese, here is a list of 8 foods which can help your sleep quality, with a touch of the science behind how they can help. There are some which may surprise you:
1 – Bananas
Despite being thought of as an ‘energy fruit’, bananas can actually have the opposite effect and help you to get your shut eye.
This is because the potassium they contain can relax your muscles in preparation.
Washing your banana down with warmed milk can be an even better solution, as they both contain a lot of carbohydrates which aid sleep.
2 – Eggs
Whilst you may associate eggs as part of your brekkie routine, you could also consider a hard boiled one as a pre-bedtime snack. This is because they contain tryptophan, which acts as a natural sedative.
Eggs are also packed with protein and the effect they have on your blood-sugar means you are more likely to have uninterrupted, quality sleep.
If you don’t think you will fancy eggs too near to bedtime, it could still be beneficial with getting to sleep to consider boiled eggs with a slice of wholemeal toast for your evening meal.
3 – Fish
The vitamin B6 found in many fish aids with the production of melatonin in your body which works at night time as an indication to your mind and body that it is time to unwind and get some rest.
Two of the best sleep aiding types of fish are cod and salmon.
4 – Turkey
After a large Christmas dinner you may put your nodding off in front of the TV down to overindulging and too much wine.
While this is no doubt the case, and it would be lovely to blame the turkey (and people often do!), turkey has got some benefits.
This is because, similarly to eggs, it contains tryptophan, which if eaten in the right quantity can help the brain produce serotonin required for sleep.
Before you go for double-helpings at the Christmas or Sunday lunch table though, remember it is best to eat a lot of the turkey itself, preferably on an empty stomach, or perhaps on a wholemeal sandwich to gain any sort of benefit!
5 – Cereals
As long as you don’t go for the ones that are packed full of refined sugar (always check the label, some cereals can unfortunately contain “nasty” surprises when you think you are being healthy!) and go for wholegrain ones, cereals can be the perfect snack to nibble on before your head hits the pillow.
The fibre in the whole grains will stabilise your blood sugar levels which slows down absorption of sugars, letting your body keep ahead while it’s processing them.
Just watch your portion size, so your tum doesn’t try too hard to digest it.
6 – Strawberries
As well as many other health benefits such as improved heart health, anti-aging properties and a boost to your immune system, strawberries can also help when it comes to sleep, due to their vitamin C content.
(Whilst you might automatically think of oranges when you hear of vitamin C though, these wouldn’t be advised, as the acidity could cause other problems if eaten too close to bedtime; such as heartburn, which would be a separate keeping you awake issue!)
Being a fruit they are also versatile and could be eaten as part of a fruit salad for example, and are better on the waistline than a lot of other snacks.
7 – Broccoli
Broccoli is an amazing food that has a number of healthy plus points.
When it comes to helping your sleep, you could consider eating it as an accompaniment to your early evening meal.
As well as the protein, iron and fibre content, the magnesium broccoli contains is linked to helping your shut eye.
8 – Cheese
Before you pass on to the grandchildren the old wives tale that eating cheese before bed can give you nightmares, consider the type of cheese and its actual sleep benefits!
Whilst strong tasting cheese such as Stilton is linked to bad dreams if eaten too closely to bedtime, other types of cheese such as Cheshire can actually help your sleep without producing crazy dreams!
Other recommended cheeses to help your sleep quality are low-fat cottage cheese/Mozzarella and Ricotta.
The cheese contains tryptophan which has a similar effect to eggs and turkey..
Prior to your rush to get the cheeseboard out though, remember to watch your portion size. as cheese is unfortunately high in cholesterol and saturated fat.
If the small portion of cheese won’t fill you up on its own, you could always pair it with some grapes.