The best foods for better sleep

While food is not yet a treatment for insomnia, what you are eating throughout the day can have an effect on how much sleep you are getting each night. Below are some of the foods suggested to promote a healthy, refreshing sleep.

Foods to fall asleep

Sleep specialists have said that melatonin can help induce sleep. For a good bedtime snack, choose cherries, as they are rich in the hormone. Pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium, this helps relax the muscles in the body, inducing a deeper sleep. You’ll be surprised to hear that popcorn is another option. Popcorn is high in serotonin, the chemical that keeps our sleep cycle regular. Try to avoid the salt and butter flavour popcorn, as this could cause you to wake up throughout the night – air-popped is the best form and what better excuse for a late night movie!

Avoid a restless night

Many of us don’t struggle to fall asleep, but often wake up throughout the night. A disrupted sleep is often what makes us feel low and lacking energy the next day. Keeping hydrated is important, obviously too much liquid will have you waking up and running to the bathroom at three in the morning, but an empty stomach at bedtime can also cause disruptions. It is recommended to have only two hours between your last meal and bedtime, any longer can result in a drop in blood sugars. A good evening snack to keep you sleeping is apple with peanut butter. This offers enough glucose to give you a full night’s sleep. Stress can also result in sleepless nights. Vitamin C can help reduce stress before bed, try snacking on an apricot.

To avoid nightmares

If your dreams are interfering with your sleep, get those pumpkin seeds back out. Magnesium has been linked with decreasing the vividity of dreams. Avocado is another magnesium-rich food, as is kale and spinach. If you find yourself craving cheese and crackers for supper, try not to eat it too close to bedtime. Cheese contains opioid peptides, a chemical said to send our endorphins and imagination a little wild.

However, if you want more exciting dreams, you can give in to that cheese craving. It is believed that vitamin B6 can also promote dreaming, tuna steak and bananas are rich in it.

To help with snoring

Weight issues are often linked to snoring. If you are overweight, you may find this a common side effect. If you are of good health and still suffer, vitamin C is said to reduce snoring. Try adding some citrus fruit to your daily meals, or adding lemon juice to your water.

Foods to avoid

Ok, so a glass of red wine can often make us feel sleepy. But alcohol is not a long term solution for bad sleep. While alcohol does make it easier to fall asleep, the sleep itself is of poor quality and you will often wake up. It can also increase the chance of snoring, so if you find your partner is snoring more than usual, it is probably a result of the bottle you shared.

Caffeine is best avoided, try not to have any coffee after lunch, go for green tea or a lighter option. When looking at the cupcakes or biscuits during an energy slump, choose carbohydrates for a slow release energy. Sweets and cakes will increase sugar levels but cause them to drop hours later, often resulting in an interrupted sleep.

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Ellen Hoggard

Written by Ellen Hoggard

Ellen is the Content Manager for Memiah and writer for Nutritionist Resource and Happiful magazine.
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