Oh gosh, I’m yaaawning as I sit here at my desk and I know exactly the reason why. Like 1 in 3 of us here in the UK, I don’t get enough sleep. OK, maybe that’s because I don’t go to bed early enough and I always have to wake up really early. But sometimes, it’s also the quality of the sleep that can help. So I asked some experts on their top tips, of things to eat and drink, to not feeling like a zombie when your alarm goes off in the morning and here’s what they’ve said
1. Choose coconut water
Try drinking a glass of pure coconut water in the evening to encourage 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 may cause cramping and restless legs at night, and therefore disturbed sleep,” says Shona Wilkinson, Nutritionist at Superfooduk.com.
2. Change your sleep cycle with cherries
“Cherries have been found to contain small amounts of melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep cycles. Although all cherries may contain some melatonin, tart ‘Montmorency’ cherries in particular have been found in a clinical trial to increase the body’s melatonin levels and increase sleep time,” says Cassandra Barns, Nutritionist.
3. Try Turkey for a better sleep
“Turkey is often said to be a sleep-promoter, as it contains good levels of tryptophan, the amino acid that converts into serotonin and then melatonin in our body. However, tryptophan is not the only constituent that makes turkey worth mentioning: it is also a good source of zinc and vitamin B6 – ‘co-factors’ that help the body to produce melatonin from tryptophan. However, have your turkey earlier in the day, as a large serving of meat or other high-protein food late in the evening may stop you falling asleep,” says Shona.
4. Prepare yourself for a good snooze with pumpkin seeds
“Pumpkin seeds are high in natural magnesium. 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.
“Try including one to two tablespoons of pumpkin seeds a day: add them to sugar-free yoghurt or salads, or grind them up in a coffee grinder and add to porridge,” explains Barns.
“I’d also recommend taking KalmAssure Magnesium Magnesium Powder, by Natures Plus (£24.50, www.naturesplus.co.uk). This is a naturally chelated magnesium which is very easy to absorb and easily delivered to the tissues,” adds Cassandra.
5. Opt for oatcakes
“If you regularly wake in the middle of the night, especially if it’s suddenly and your head is racing, have a small snack of complex carbohydrates, such as an oatcake about an hour before bed. This will prevent your blood sugar levels from dropping during the night,” explains Dr. Marilyn Glenville, author of Natural Alternatives to Sugar, www.marilynglenville.com.
6. Boost your sleep with brown rice
“You may not think you need much energy while you’re asleep, but 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. To avoid this, make sure you have some slow-releasing carbohydrates in the evening, such as a serving of brown rice with your evening meal,” advises Shona.
7. Prep your body for sleep with porridge
“If you have your last meal a long time before going to bed, try eating a half-size bowl of porridge later in the evening. Again, this will help keep the levels of sugar (glucose) in your blood stable, and so provide your body with sustained energy,” says Shona.
8. Hummus can help you sleep
“The chickpeas in hummus are a great source of tryptophan and b6, which is the vitamin that helps you produce the sleep hormone melatonin. Try a slice of whole-grain bread with hummus for a healthier late night snack, which can deter us from waking up hungry in the night,” says Cassandra.
9. Nurse yourself to sleep with nuts
“Nuts, especially pecan and Brazil nuts contain moderate levels of tryptophan, but try not to have these too late at night and they can be difficult to digest,” says Shona.
10. Feel more relaxed with fish
Another good way to help maintain melatonin levels in the bloodstream is to eat more fish. “Fish are abundant sources of vitamin b6, which produces melatonin. Try adding the likes of tuna and salmon to your diet on a regular basis, to help you get a better night’s sleep,” advises Cassandra.