A lot of people struggle to get to sleep at night. In fact, it’s estimated that as many as one in every three people suffer from insomnia according to the Sleep Health Foundation.
Whether you find yourself tossing or turning through the night, or have simply got into the habit of sleeping during the day and staying up all night, the fact is that you’re not alone. However, the benefits of getting a proper night’s sleep are clear for everyone to see. According to this article from Health, sleep can benefit everything from our memories to our creativity and boost athletic and academic performance, and even our life expectancy!
So what can you do to make sure that you get the seven to nine hours of shut-eye that doctors recommend? Well, there’s a number of different techniques that you can try, and also numerous pills and other treatments which claim to help.
The sleep-inducing ingredients
But did you know that it could be as easy as making a change to your diet? Of course, eating a nutritious and balanced diet will help you live a much healthier life all around, but did you know, there’s a range of different foods which have their own sleep-inducing properties. The three main substances which you need to know about are tryptophan, serotonin and melatonin, all of which are needed for good sleep.
- Tryptophan is an amino acid found in protein foods such as turkey, steak and chicken, which is converted into serotonin by the brain.
- Serotonin is a chemical which carries messages between your brain cells and other cells in the body. A deficiency of serotonin can lead to anxiety and also make you crave carb-heavy foods.
- Melatonin is formed from serotonin and is the hormone which helps to regulate our body clocks.
Instead of simply loading up on proteins, you should be sure to balance them out with some carbohydrates, as they help to cause a rise in insulin levels which in turn helps to increase tryptophan levels in your brain!
Coffee or Tea?
Of course, there are also foods that you should definitely avoid, with the obvious one being caffeine. You probably already knew that caffeine is going to be a bit of an obstacle to sleep, but did you know that it can have an effect as long as ten to twelve hours after drinking it? So, while many of us need a cup of coffee through the day to give us a jolt of energy, it’s best to reduce your caffeine as much as possible.
If this proves too difficult, you could always try making the change to decaffeinated coffee or try something such as green tea as an alternative.
Alcohol interferes with circadian rhythm
Something else which is worth avoiding drinking is alcohol. While it might help chill you out before bed, it totally interferes with your circadian rhythm (body clock) and disrupts the quality of your sleep. You can learn more about how alcohol disrupts our sleep in this article.
Meals before bed
As another general tip, it’s best to avoid eating a big meal late at night before bed, so try to make sure you have your evening meal a little bit earlier and avoid any rich or heavy foods in the two hours before you go to bed.
On the flip side, if you go to bed on an empty stomach, you’re likely to spend your night tossing and turning, longing for the fridge.
Foods for a better sleep
For more specific examples of exactly what kind of food you should be on the lookout for, to help you get to sleep, check out this infographic from SleepyPeople.com on ’14 Foods to Help You Get a Better Night’s Sleep’.
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