Meditation, picking up a good book, even counting sheep. We’ve all tried them and they all claim to help you switch off and drift off to the land of nod.
As well as sparking an irritable mood and general feelings of misery, a lack of sleep is detrimental to a person’s health.
Countless studies have warned of the dangers of not getting between six to eight hours sleep a night – generally accepted as the gold standard in sleep terms.
As well as relaxation techniques and ditching your blue-light emitting smartphone and tablet, there is another way to maximise the chances of getting a good night’s sleep.
A healthy diet, including key food groups packed with snooze-inducing nutrients and vitamins.
Here we reveal our favourite..
1. SLOW-RELEASE CARBS
Carbohydrates that slowly release energy into the body, such as oats or oatcakes, and brown rice, can help transform a person’s sleep pattern.
Whole grains help to keep the levels of sugar (glucose) in your blood stable, and so provide your body with sustained energy. Your brain and body still need glucose to keep working.
If levels fall too low, this can cause the release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which can wake you up.
If you have your last meal a long time before going to bed, try eating a half-size bowl of porridge or a couple of oatcakes with nut butter later in the evening
Sugary foods and refined white carbohydrates can have the opposite effect, as they quickly enter and leave the bloodstream, leaving your blood low in glucose again after only a short period of time.
High protein foods, such as meat, fish, beans and lentils, seeds and nuts are also vital in helping promote a better night’s sleep.
Protein foods provide the amino acid, tryptophan, which converts into the hormones serotonin and melatonin, which melatonin is needed for a good sleep.
‘Melatonin in particular is needed for good sleep.’
However, avoid too much high-protein food in the last few hours before bed however, as they can be hard to digest – especially red meat and nuts,’ Ms Wilkinson warned.
3. PUMPKIN SEEDS
Pumpkin seeds are high in natural magnesium, making them beneficial to those people who struggle to drift off each night.
One of the roles of magnesium is allowing the muscle fibres in our body to relax, it counteracts calcium, which causes muscles to contract. It is also thought that magnesium has a role in the normal function of the pineal gland, which produces melatonin – a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and helps us to fall asleep.
4. COCONUT WATER
A glass of pure, raw, Chi coconut water in the evening could help you to have a restful night’s sleep, coconut water is an excellent source of electrolyte minerals: potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and sodium.
Balanced levels of these minerals are necessary to maintain normal muscle action, nerve function and hydration in our body.
Deficiencies or imbalances can cause cramping and restless legs at night, and therefore disturbed sleep.
Zinc-rich foods such as oysters and other seafood, whole grains and nuts, especially pecans and brazil nuts, will help send you off to the land of nod, Dr Glenville said.
‘Zinc is also needed for conversion of tryptophan into serotonin and melatonin,’ she added.
6. HERBAL TEAS
For many, nothing soothes them into a dreamy state better than a warm cuppa. But, it is vital you avoid regular builders tea, which is high in caffeine.
Calming herbal teas such as chamomile, passionflower or valerian, or specific sleep blends can be helpful to drink before bedtime.