food for thought: what to eat & drink for more natural sleep
Many of us will admit to not always getting enough sleep, whether that’s because of being a self-confessed night owl, having a busy social life or simply due to not being able to settle at night.
Truth be told, in today’s society, sleep tends to take a backseat in terms of priorities, but life really can be that bit easier when we take our sleep seriously.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, it might be down to something as simple as your daily diet. Like with many things, what we eat can play such an important part in our general health, and much like sleeping, is an essential part of life. With that in mind, you can understand why countless studies have shown that the two go hand-in-hand. Ever felt that afternoon slump right after lunch? Well, certain foods promote drowsiness more than others, and here are just a few that you can munch on before bedtime to help you get a restful night’s sleep…
Finding it difficult to switch off at night? Cherries are the perfect snack to treat yourself to before bedtime. To put the science behind it simply, not only are cherries incredibly healthy (no food guilt here!), they also contain sleep-promoting hormones; which is why you might feel slightly lethargic after eating them.
That said, not all cherries will make you want to sleep, as choosing sweet cherries will do the total opposite, leaving you feeling hyperactive. The tarter the cherry, the better it will help you get some rest at night. So, if you find that your dinner didn’t quite satisfy, try snacking on some Montmorency tart cherries and you’ll soon start to feel your eyes getting heavy.
For those who are big fans of sweet potato fries, you can now rejoice! Sweet potatoes are actually great for making you sleep like a baby. As well as tasting delicious, they contain slow-burning carbs and potassium, a muscle relaxant, putting them near the top of sleep-inducing food lists!
If you can’t find sweet potatoes in your local supermarket, you can always opt for regular potatoes. Whichever type you go for, what makes these carbs so great is that you can have them either as a snack or with your main meal for a natural sleep aid.
While you’re more likely to eat this in the morning, sometimes you simply don’t want a heavy meal in the evening and so fortified cereal might be just the right alternative. A lot of people tend to shy away from cereal at night in fear of weight gain, but depending on the kind you eat, it will promote sleepiness and let you wake up with a smile. As fortified cereal is considered a carbohydrate it releases sugars slowly, bringing on sleepiness naturally. It’s also best to avoid sugary cereals and swap these for wholegrain alternatives, like bran flakes topped with milk, to promote a better night’s sleep at bedtime.
Remember how your parents used to give you warm milk before bedtime to make you sleepy? Well, the effect doesn’t change once you become an adult. If you’re finding that you can’t nod off at night, milk and other dairy products are great as they contain amino acid to induce sleep. If taken regularly, milk can also promote a regular sleeping pattern, which is vital for a healthy daily routine.
As a little tip, we recommend having a glass of warm milk every night for a month to see if you can notice the difference. You can always pair it with a tasty biscuit or oatcake to keep you feeling fuller for longer.
You may have spotted valerian tablets in your local health food store, and it’s understandable why, as the valerian root is well known for improving quality of sleep. If you’d prefer to go down the herbal route to help get you to sleep at night, a tea-based version of valerian might be your best option. This tea contains melatonin, and like many of the above, it acts as a relaxant and is often recommended by herbalists to treat anxiety and nervousness; for that reason you can understand why it aids sleep too.
We should also add that although this is a tried and trusted way of getting extra sleep, valerian tea doesn’t have the nicest taste. It tends to also have a fairly unpleasant smell, so you might want to hold your nose while you drink it!
There are many other ways to naturally improve your sleep; food is just one starting point. Your bedtime routine, which includes your choice of mattress, is well worth getting right. If you have any other tips that you use to sleep through the night, we’d love to hear them!