According to one study, eating kiwi fruit before bed helps deep sleep. But which other foodstuffs may aid a long and peaceful slumber?
Whether you want to doze your way slim, or you just want to wake up feeling more refreshed in the morning, check out these foods that help you sleep.
Poultry and nuts
Turkey and chicken contain high levels of tryptophan, which also boosts serotonin. “Foods that are high in tryptophan and vitamin B6 will help you make melatonin, the sleep hormone,” says Nerina Ramlakhan, sleep expert and author of Fast Asleep, Wide Awake. Other good sources of both are beans, lentils, cheese, tofu, tuna, eggs, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
Or you could consume melatonin itself. “This would include things such as tart cherries, cherry juice and oats,” says Ramlakhan.
Bananas and leafy vegetables
“Foods that are high in potassium and magnesium help to relax the muscles because a lot of people suffer from things such as restless legs,” says Ramlakhan. Good sources of magnesium include whole grains, nuts and dark green leafy vegetables. Potassium-rich foods include bananas, potatoes, apricots and milk.
A Columbia University study, using 26 volunteers, found that a diet rich in fibre – foods such as beans, lentils, berries and whole grains – may lead to better sleep, while a diet with a “greater intake of saturated fat and lower intake of fibre were associated with a lighter, less deep sleep profile”.
And it matters when you eat
Anyone who has gorged on a giant Sunday lunch will know just how sleepy it can make you afterwards, but smaller, regular meals are important for improved sleep, says Ramlakhan. “A lot of people feel sleepy after a big meal because they overeat and the rate of change in their blood sugar stimulates the insulin response which sedates them,” she says. “It’s not just what you eat, it’s also your patterns of eating that make a difference. Make sure you eat breakfast – it stabilises blood sugar and minimises your production of adrenaline.” It will help produce melatonin later on.