Published On: Wed, Feb 22nd, 2017

Foods to eat for a good night’s sleep and how to avoid insomnia

Recent research showing that insufficient sleep depresses the immune system, increasing the risk of infection and disease, makes a good night’s sleep more important than ever.

Unfortunately, many insomniacs are unwittingly sabotaging their sleep, with experts now maintaining that a late-night diet rich in spicy dishes and most high-protein foods, as well as caffeine, is keeping us awake at night.

According to Sammy Margo, sleep expert and author of The Good Sleep Guide: “Although many of us understand the importance of nutrition during the day, this research clearly shows few of us are aware that certain foods can help to promote a more restful sleep.

“Lying down after eating a spice-laden meal can result in heartburn and a restless night. Fatty foods high in protein, like steak, digest slowly and may disturb our Circadian rhythm.

“Plus, whilst a nightcap can make you feel drowsy, excessive alcohol prevents you from getting into the deeper stages of sleep, and may make you feel groggy the next day.”

Further detail was provided with an outline of five of the worst food and drinks you can have before bed:

  1. Spicy Foods: Spicy foods can give you indigestion and it is speculated that capsaicin, an active ingredient in chili peppers, may affect sleep via changes in body temperature.
  2. Alcohol: A nightcap can make you feel drowsy, however drinking more alcohol prevents you from getting into the deeper stages of sleep and can lead to grogginess the next day.
  3. Coffee: One of the most common sources of caffeine, the stimulant has a half-life of five hours, which means 25 percent of it is still working through your system even 10 hours later.
  4. Greasy or Fatty Foods: Greasy foods cause your stomach to go into overdrive to digest them, producing acid in the stomach which can spill up into your oesophagus, causing sleep-disrupting heartburn. Burgers, fast food, ice cream, or super cheesy foods should be avoided before bed.
  5. Sugary Foods: An excess of sugar before bed can cause a spike in your blood-sugar levels which may disrupt your sleep in the process.

On the other hand, five of the best food and drinks recommended before bed to promote sleep were:

  1. Bananas: Bananas are rich in magnesium, a muscle relaxant, as well as sleep-promoting hormones serotonin and melatonin.
  2. Almonds: Almonds contain tryptophan and magnesium, which both help to naturally reduce muscle and nerve function while also steadying your heart rhythm.
  3. Honey: A teaspoon of honey contains glucose, which tells your brain to shut off orexin, the chemical known to trigger alertness.
  4. Oats: Grains in oatmeal trigger insulin production and raise your blood sugar naturally. Oats are also rich in melatonin.
  5. Turkey: The post-Christmas lunch nap is no coincidence; turkey is packed with sleep-inducing tryptophan.

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