Bedtime Food for Good Sleep
A good sleep comes down to a lot more than just getting to bed at a regular time and shutting your eyes.
We all know how important a good night’s sleep is for your health, particularly our bodies depend on sleep for rest and repair.
Unfortunately, good sleep comes down to a lot more than just getting to bed at a regular time and shutting your eyes. Sleep can be affected by so many things including stress levels, changes in routine and hormone fluctuations just to name a few. Diet also has an important role to play when it comes to achieving quality sleep because the food we eat supplies us with the necessary nutrients needed to regulate our sleep cycles.
Some of the most important sleep promoting amino acids and minerals include tryptophan, calcium, and magnesium. Tryptophan is an amino acid that we receive from protein rich foods which then converts to serotonin and melatonin, which are responsible for making us feel tired and keeping us asleep during the night. Magnesium and calcium are also extremely important minerals for the body and have a relaxing effect on the nervous system, calcium also helps the brain to convert tryptophan to melatonin. Magnesium is also extremely important for athletes as exercise depletes the body of this mineral and it aids in muscle recovery and relaxation.
A balanced dinner full of protein, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats and green vegetables is a terrific way to ensure you are receiving these important nutrients, but sometimes a healthy snack before bed can be a good way to aid tissue growth and repair and aid with a good nights sleep. When considering night time meals and snacks it’s important to include more of the foods that are high in the nutrients discussed above and avoid any foods that will increase energy or promote wakefulness such as foods high in sugar, caffeine or anything spicy as this may cause heartburn.
Sleep-promoting dinner foods
Leafy green vegetables
Leafy greens such as kale and spinach are great sources of calcium and magnesium
Fibre rich foods
High fibre help regulate blood sugar levels and prevent surges which can lower melatonin levels. Some great ideas when planning dinners are vegetables like artichokes, legumes and beans, wholegrain rice and pasta, quinoa, polenta and corn.
Turkey is a great source of lean protein and is also high in the amino acid tryptophan.
Fatty fish such as salmon is a good source of vitamin B6 which is needed to make melatonin in the body. Fish is also a great source of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to increase the production of serotonin.
Almonds are high is monounsaturated fats, fibre and antioxidants and are a great source of magnesium.
Dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese contain healthy doses of calcium and are also good sources of tryptophan. Also, who doesn’t love a warm glass of milk when it’s time to wind down for bed?
When choosing dairy-free milk alternatives such as almond, soy or rice milks, it is a good idea to check to see if these are calcium fortified. Unfortunately, dairy-free milk alternatives don’t offer the same benefits in terms of tryptophan however, eggs are also a great source of tryptophan and can be a good option for individuals with a lactose intolerance.
Fruits like kiwi and bananas
Kiwi fruit has been shown to have sleep promoting effects due to the levels of serotonin and antioxidants contained in the fruit. Bananas are also a great option before bedtime as they are a good source of muscle relaxing nutrients potassium and magnesium.
So, remember while good sleep hygiene, reducing life stressors and keeping consistent routines are great strategies to help build healthy sleeping habits, dietary choices can also be very effective to promote a good night’s sleep.
This information does not take into account your personal situation and is general in nature. You should consider whether the information is appropriate for your needs and seek professional medical advice.
Always consult your healthcare professional before taking any supplements or if any concerns arise.
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