Perhaps the most exciting way to induce sleep is through our stomachs. A topic unknown to most, it’s time to discover how and what foods help us to sleep better.
The central component in food which helps to promote sleep is tryptophan. This amino acid is present in protein-rich foods such as yoghurt, milk, oats, poultry and eggs and, once it has reached the brain, signals that sleepy feeling. The best and most effective way to speed up tryptophan’s journey to the brain is through eating carbohydrate-rich foods. These carbohydrates encourage the body to release insulin, thereby clearing away competing amino acids from the blood.
Foods that help you sleep better
The National Sleep Foundation recommends having a ‘sleep-inviting snack about an hour before bedtime’ to help you achieve a sound slumber. According to registered dietician, Mary Hartley, this snack should consist of no more that 150-200 calories to prevent the gut from entering overdrive and keeping you awake at night. But what foods help you sleep better?
According to research conducted by PLOS ONE, a diet containing rice and other foods high in GI (glycemic index) can reduce the risk of poor sleep by up to 46%. These particular foods are effective at inducing sleep as they promote the release of tryptophan and sleep hormone melatonin.
To keep under the 150-200 calorie evening snack threshold and help get that sleepy feeling, why not pop the kettle on and whip yourself up a small bowl of rice?
- Banana Smoothie
By combining calcium-rich milk with tryptophan, magnesium and potassium-rich bananas, banana milkshakes are the perfect companion for people suffering from sleep deprivation.
For a deliciously satisfying and sleep-inducing smoothie recipe, check out Chiquita Banana’s banana smoothie recipe.
Drinking a glass of tart cherry juice twice a day for two weeks has been known to help older people have an hour’s longer rest each day. Cherries are another natural sleeping aid as they promote the release of melatonin, one of the body’s hormones that signal it’s time for bed.
If you can’t stomach tart cherry juice, eating a handful of cherries from a punnet will have a similar effect.
- Miso Soup
While eating any flavour of warming soup can help to encourage sleep, miso soup is the champion sleep-conjurer. Among miso’s many properties is its ability to boost the production of melatonin and promote a restful night’s sleep.
For the perfect miso soup, check out chef Jamie Oliver’s recipe.
- Half a Turkey Sandwich
Made with whole-wheat bread, this turkey sandwich is a sleep-craver’s dream. Turkey is one of the most famous sources of tryptophan while the carbohydrate in the bread will help to clear its path to the brain: win win!