Did you know that one in three of us don’t get enough sleep? From hectic work schedules and overactive minds to bouts of stress, our sleep is usually the first thing to suffer when we’ve got a lot on our plate. Bed manufacturer Sealy UK’s Worldwide Sleep Census polled more than 15,000 respondents around the globe and discovered that 77 percent of Brits fail to wake up refreshed and well-rested each morning and that British women lose 10 days per year due to ‘sleep debt’ – the time spent lying awake when we should be sleeping. Make sure you’re not one of these statistics by adapting your diet to contain sleep-inducing foods for a perfect night’s slumber.
Choose coconut water
Try drinking a glass of pure coconut water in the evening to encourage a restful night’s sleep. Coconut water is an excellent source of ‘electrolyte’ minerals: potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and sodium. Balanced levels of these minerals are necessary to maintain normal muscle action, nerve function and hydration in our body. Deficiencies or imbalances can cause cramping and restless legs at night, which can lead to disturbed sleep.
Change your sleep cycle with cherries
Cherries can help to get us in a regular sleep pattern. Cherries have been found to contain small amounts of melatonin, the hormone that regulates our sleep cycles. Although all cherries may contain some melatonin, tart Montmorency cherries in particular have been found in a clinical trial to increase the body’s melatonin levels and increase sleep time.
Prepare yourself for a good snooze with pumpkin seeds
Add a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds to sugar-free yoghurt or a salad to give your regular meals a sleep-enhancing boost. Pumpkin seeds are high in natural magnesium, one of the roles of magnesium is allowing the muscle fibres in our body to relax, counteracting calcium, which causes muscles to contract. It is also thought that magnesium has a role in the normal function of the pineal gland, which produces melatonin.
Complex carbs are key
Combat unexpected wake up calls in the middle of the night by controlling your blood sugar. If you regularly wake in the middle of the night, especially if it’s suddenly and your head is racing, have a small snack of complex carbohydrates, such as an oatcake about an hour before bed. This will prevent your blood sugar levels from dropping during the night. You may not think you need much energy while you’re asleep, but your brain and body still need glucose to keep working. If levels fall too low, this can cause the release of adrenaline and cortisol, which can wake you up. To avoid this, make sure you have some slow-releasing carbohydrates in the evening, such as brown rice with your evening meal.
Feel more relaxed with fish
Another good way to help maintain melatonin levels in the bloodstream is to eat more fish, as fish is an abundant source of vitamin B6, which produces melatonin. Try adding the likes of tuna and salmon to your diet on a regular basis, to help you get a better night’s sleep.