Whether you are struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep there are some useful nutrients that have been studied and show promise in helping us with slumber issues. Foods containing serotonin, antioxidants, tryptophan, magnesium, vitamin D, calcium, healthy fats and a little carbohydrate can all help to improve the quality and duration of your shut eye. We have some tried and tested snack ideas to eat within the 3 hours of bedtime that have been proven to speed up the time taken to drop off, reduce wakefulness and help you sleep for longer.
In a 4-week study 24 adults consumed 2 fresh kiwis one hour before bed. The results showed that they fell asleep 42% more quickly than kiwi free evenings and the ability to stay asleep improved by 5%. Total sleep time increased by 13%. So what did the researchers at Taiwan’s medical university think linked the kiwi better sleep? It is suspected the high antioxidant and serotonin levels are responsible. Serotonin works to initiate sleep, maintain sleep and regulates the stages of sleep during the night. Manipulating your serotonin levels can alter the amount and quality of sleep you get.
Claimed to help boost sleep, almonds contain the sleep regulator melatonin and magnesium that could help sleep quality. Just 1oz of almonds contributes 19% of your daily requirement of magnesium.
High in the amino acid tryptophan. What does this do? 40 controlled studies have been carried out on Tryptophan finding that it is responsible for reducing the time to fall asleep, reduces wakefulness and increases sleep time (1). If you are calorie counting bear in mind that nuts are calorific (14 walnut halves is 185 calories)
Acting as a mild sedative, drinking chamomile tea ½ hour before bed helps you drift off. It also reduces mild anxiety and acts as a good way to destress, both of these being common barriers to sleep.
Blending together a banana and milk (diary or plant based) gives the body a boost of vitamin D and calcium. The journal of sleep research suggests that having enough of these two nutrients alleviates any sleep problems. Reducing problems with falling asleep by 17% and staying asleep by 16%. The banana also provides magnesium and vitamin B6 that provide the relaxing neurotransmitter serotonin in the body.
Tart Cherry juice.
In studies (2) Tart cherry juice (tart is important) increased the length and quality of sleep of participants. This is due to the melatonin and tryptophan content of the fruit. In addition, the anthocyanins in tart cherries help slow the breakdown of tryptophan making their sleep inducing effects last for longer.