What to eat for a great nights’ sleep

We know that sleep, nutrition and weight are interconnected and when you don’t get a good night’s sleep – that is at least 7 hours – you are much more likely to make unwise food and drink decisions that could potentially damage sleep the following night.

Hello caffeine, high-carb snacks and alcohol!

Never fear though, here is a handy guideline to the foods that can get you back on top of those zzz’s.

The vitamins and minerals that promote sleep.
The foods that promote sleep are those that are high in magnesium, potassium, vitamin B6 and tryptophan.

Magnesium deficiency is particularly common among adults, and it plays a key role in the bodily function that regulates sleep. In fact, insomnia is one of the symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Supplementing with magnesium is useful in order to boost levels in your body and you can also consume magnesium by eating dark leafy greens, pumpkin and sesame seeds, Brazil nuts and some types of fish.

Too little potassium has been linked to disturbed sleep. One study reported increased sleep efficiency and reduced episodes of waking after sleep onset, after as little as one week of potassium supplementation. You don’t have to supplement however, you can find natural sources of potassium in avocados, baked potatoes and leafy greens.

Vitamin B6 supports the brain in making the hormone serotonin, which converts to melatonin, the hormone that makes us sleepy. Natural sources of B6 are avocado, organic turkey, pistachio nuts, organic chicken and sunflower seeds.

And finally tryptophan, an amino acid that is necessary in the steps to making melatonin. We don’t produce tryptophan in the body, therefore we need to supplement or eat foods with a high concentration to maximise melatonin production. These foods include chocolate, oats, fish, red meat, eggs and poultry.

My favourite sleep-inducing foods.

  • Fish such as salmon or halibut with garlic and pistachio nuts.

  • Leafy green vegetables such as kale, spinach and mustard greens.

  • Tart cherries naturally boost melatonin levels.

  • Walnuts are an excellent source of tryptophan and a natural source of melatonin.

  • Almonds are valuable for sleep due to their high magnesium content.

  • Chickpeas are an excellent source of tryptophan and useful to stave off hunger before bedtime.

  • Sweet potato is rich in potassium – which helps your muscles to relax, and vitamin B6 an important co-factor for serotonin and melatonin production. As a complex carb they digest slowly, providing the steady energy your body needs to make it through the night.

  • Honey aids in transporting tryptophan to the brain without spiking your blood sugar.
     

Top tips
Chamomile tea
contains glycine, a chemical which relaxes nerves and muscles and induces a mild sedative effect. Add a ½ teaspoon of honey and drink a cup at dinner or 90 minutes before bed to sleep more deeply.

Epsom salt soak – ok, ok, so this is not food or drink. Soaking in a magnesium bath before bed lowers stress hormones, improves magnesium levels and improves your sleep. Try it for 20 minutes with a couple of drops of lavender essential oil.

Want more? You can contact me for some 1-1 person-centred coaching. Book a free clarity call to see how best I can help ❤️