If you struggle to snooze, your health will suffer. Mercifully, mama nature has a few solutions – and they’re all yummy!
Walnuts and cashews are best. When it begins to get dark, our bodies produce a hormone called melatonin which is what makes us feel sleepy. Walnuts also contain melatonin, so try eating a few walnuts before bedtime and nudge your sleepiness along. Cashews meanwhile are rich in magnesium, a mineral that many of us don’t get enough of in our diet and a deficiency of which has been linked to sleep disorders.
You were probably given this as a child to help you get off to the land of nod quicker, and it works. Milk is rich in calcium and the amino acid tryptophan -the two things your body needs to produce that all-important melatonin in the first place. So, try sipping a comforting cup of warm milk before hitting the hay. Why warm?
It heats your body up meaning your body has to work harder to cool itself down to its optimal temperature for sleep and that cool-down can trigger drowsiness.
If you suffer from sleep-robbing cramps while you’re in bed, a lack of magnesium (which as we’ve mentioned you can get from cashew nuts) and potassium could be to blame. A medium-sized sweet potato packs in around 540mg of magnesium, which equates to around 10% of your daily recommended dose. So chomp on these at suppertime to prevent involuntary leg spasms while you’re trying to snooze.
New research suggests that vitamin D deficiency can adversely affect the quality of your sleep, and although the reasons why are still unclear the theory is that the vitamin targets neurons in bits of your brain that deal with sleep. Sunlight is the main source of this vital vitamin but as there’s not always a steady supply (especially if you live in Britain) you’re best off topping it up via your diet. Although few foods do contain it naturally, eggs are a notable – and rather tasty-exception.
Repeated studies have shown that camomile contains compounds which help to promote a sense of calmness and well being. So try drinking a cup of camomile tea the night before a big race or a sportive to banish nerves and alleviate anxiety. Plus, just like warm milk, if you drink it hot, it’ll cause you to nod off quicker because your body will be working harder to cool itself down.