Just of late, I have started eating to help myself sleep. I have always found it hard to get a full nights rest; whether it be finding it difficult to stop my thoughts at bedtime, tired out from tossing and turning throughout the night or losing sleep over a nightmare. The years of hating the feeling of tiredness has put a great emphasis on perfecting my sleep.
The quality of our sleep controls our happiness, motivation and eating habits. Not getting enough sleep upsets our internal mechanisms which then affects our ability to perform day-to-day tasks. When we are tired it usually leads to forgetting something, it makes us slower in work and makes us crave stodgy carbs. The consequences of being exhausted, therefore, stresses your mind & body out.
Over the last six months I have been trying out lots of herbal methods that helps us sleep better. I have also been researching foods that make you sleep easier and then incorporating them into my diet. My sleeping pattern has never been better.
Here are a few of the foods I have been slipping into my sleeping potions:
1. Chamomile tea
Research suggests that drinking chamomile tea has been proven to calm our nerves and to send us to sleep in higher doses. Chamomile contains apigenin, a chemical which reduces anxiety. You should invest in some loose chamomile & a tea strainer as loose chamomile is much stronger than the dust you get in tea-bags. An hour or so before you are planning on getting some beauty sleep, steep 1 tablespoon of chamomile in hot water for 10-15 minutes.
Using honey to sweeten your night-time drinks is a super-healthy alternative to sugar. It aids sleep by raising your blood sugar levels which then reduces levels of orexin in your brain. Orexin is a neurotransmitter which keeps your mind awake, decreasing levels of orexin will help to make you feel more sleepy when it comes to bedtime.
Miso contains amino acids that boost the production of melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone which is responsible for maintaining our sleep & wake cycles. The production of melatonin is also triggered by darkness. It causes drowsiness, lowers the body temperature & slows down metabolic functions – which is what you want when you’re craving some shut eye!
Image Credit: Jacquelyn Clarke
Almonds are an amazing source of magnesium & proteins which stabilise your blood sugar whilst you are sleeping. Magnesium plays a huge role in the regulation of sleep and muscle relaxation. Studies suggest that even a slight deficiency in magnesium may affect the quality of your sleep. Try having a handful of almonds an hour before bedtime, a mug of warm almond milk or slice up an apple and dip them into almond butter.
Aswell as over 300 identifiable chemicals present in cacao. Cacao is crammed with tryptophan which increases the levels of serotonin & melatonin that we have in our bodies. The more serotonin and melatonin we have in our bodies then the happier & energised we will feel. I am a massive lover of cacao & if you haven’t already read my recent blog post about the many benefits of cacao then you should go read about how amazing cacao is for us.
Ensuring you eat wholegrains such as quinoa, barley & bulgar wheat can promote good sleep. These wholegrains are crammed with both magnesium & tryptophan – the perfect concoction for a good nights rest.
Kale & other dark leafy green vegetables are full of calcium. And calcium promotes the production of melatonin in the body. Ensure you get your fill of calcium by adding kale to some green juice, dehydrated kale crisps or a kale & potato curry.
The compounds found in saffron has mood heightening effects. A study that took place at Islamic Azad University shown to cure depression and insomnia.
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Cherries naturally increase the body’s natural supply of melatonin in the body. Try having a glass of cherry juice or a handful of fresh cherries close to bedtime (the tarter the cherry the better!)
A substance in lettuce called lactucarium promotes good sleep as it sedates the nervous system similarly to the way in which opium does. Try simmering 3 to 4 leaves of lettuce in a cup of water for around 15 minutes & drink before bedtime.
Walnuts are an awesome source of tryptophan which helps produce serotonin & melatonin in the body. Researchers at the University of Texas found that walnuts also contain their own melatonin-like chemical.
The calcium in milk helps reduce stress levels. Milk is also another great source of tryptophan!
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Making sure you eat fresh & organic edamame or soy beans can rapidly increase your energy levels. In one cup of edamame supplies you with 116% of the daily recommended allowance of tryptophan (!!) 57% of protein, 43% of your daily recommended omega-3s, 41% of fibre and 49% of iron. Too good.
Bananas are a great source of magnesium & potassium (which helps your muscles relax!) Bananas are also busting with tryptophan. They also contain ingredients which increase melatonin, the neurotransmitter that sends you to sleep!
Crammed with vitamin B6, chickpeas are an amazing way of boosting I your healthy amino acid & serotonin levels.
16. Green Tea
Switch your normal cuppas for some mugs of green tea throughout the day. Green tea contains theanine which promotes good sleep.
Love & sweet dreams,
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