We all know the importance of practicing good sleep hygiene, and that there’s things to avoid before sleep, such as caffeine, alcohol, and eating late. But what about things that support a better sleep?
Some foods and drinks contain compounds that can help regulate the sleep cycle, helping us fall asleep and stay asleep. These compounds include amino acids, enzymes, nutrients, and hormones that work together to promote a restful sleep. Lots of foods contain low levels of these sleep-promoting compounds, but only some have concentrations high enough to influence the sleep cycle.
We’ve put together a list of foods and drinks that you may not know help promote better quality sleep. Or, if you're a smarty pants and know some of these already, perhaps you don't know why...
Almonds and walnuts
Almonds and walnuts contain melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate your internal clock and tells your body that it’s time to sleep. This is why your melatonin levels spike when the sun goes down, is highest in the middle of the night, and then gradually falls as morning approaches. Nuts are also low in sugar and rich in magnesium, which helps to relax the mind and muscles.
Fatty fish is naturally rich in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, both of which help to regulate serotonin levels. Fish is also rich in vitamin B6, which is a pre-cursor for melatonin production. Fatty fish include salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and trout.
Dairy is a natural source of the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan, plus calcium, vitamin D and melatonin. Tryptophan helps you sleep by boosting melatonin levels. Having a cup of warm milk or tea before bed can also be a relaxing night-time ritual to support good sleep hygiene and keep a healthy sleep cycle.
Chamomile tea contains a flavonoid called apigenin, which affects the receptors in the brain that stimulate sleep. Like warm milk, a warm cup of tea before bed is a great nightly ritual to relax the mind and promote sleep.
In case you couldn’t tell, sour cherries are one of our favourite sleep-promoting foods (cue Beauty Sleep!). Sour cherries are naturally rich in melatonin, as well as tryptophan, potassium, and serotonin to support restful sleep.
Turkey and poultry
Turkey and good-quality poultry are rich in the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan. Consuming moderate amounts of good quality protein before bed is also associated with better sleep quality.
These are just a few sleep-promoting foods and drinks we love to support our zen state before bed. So don't forget, incorporating foods rich in nutrients such as tryptophan, vitamin B6, magnesium, calcium, vitamin D, melatonin, and zinc in to your dinner may help you sleep deeply and wake feeling energised!