Suffering from interrupted night’s sleep can often leave us feeling foggy, grumpy and slow the next day. But did you know that our diet could have an effect on our sleeping patterns?
Nutritionist Cassandra Barns explains how five foods can have a positive effect on our sleeping patterns and help us drift off into an uninterrupted and peaceful night’s sleep, leaving us feeling refreshed and rejuvenated for the day ahead.
As well as being a good way to start the day, oats can be a great way to end the day. Surprisingly, your body requires energy to sleep as well as to be active. The slow-releasing carbohydrates in oats drip-feed your cells with energy throughout the night, and can stop your blood sugar from falling too low and waking you up. The carbohydrates can also help the amino acid tryptophan to cross into your brain to make melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. Try a half-bowl of Nairn’s Gluten-Free Scottish Porridge Oats for supper (RRP £2.00, Sainsbury’s).
Pumpkin seeds are rich in magnesium, a mineral that helps to calm and relax the muscles and encourage restful sleep. For a tasty evening snack, try Clearspring Organic Tamari-Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (RRP £1.69, www.clearspring.co.uk). Supplementing magnesium could also help: try KalmAssure Magnesium Powder by Natures Plus (£24.50, www.naturesplus.co.uk). Take it with your evening meal to help your body wind down at the end of the day.
For a similar reason to oats, eating some sweet potato with your evening meal can help keep up that drip-feed of energy over the night, and help with melatonin production. Sweet potato can be a better option than white potato, as it tends to release energy more slowly, while still being a good source of carbohydrates. And stick to a moderate portion such as one medium potato, especially if you’re watching your weight.
Kukicha twig tea
To encourage better sleep, minimise your caffeine intake after midday. If you love your green tea, try switching to Kukicha twig tea in the afternoon; it’s made from twigs and stems of the tea bush rather than the leaves, and is much lower in caffeine. Try Clearspring’s Organic Japanese Kukicha (RRP £3.59, www.clearspring.co.uk).
Cherries have been found to contain small amounts of melatonin, the hormone that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. So if you struggle with insomnia, a glass of cherry juice or a serving of fresh or dried cherries before bedtime can naturally help you drift off.
Also, remember to finish your evening meal at least two hours before you go to bed, to give your body enough time to properly digest and relax before you settle into a long night’s sleep.