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Food that can help you sleep

Here at Bed Guru, we're going to debunk the myths about what food you should and shouldn't eat before going to bed. Read on to find out more.

24th September, 2019
by Carl Walsh

There are many theories about what you should and shouldn’t eat before you sleep. We’ve heard them all, cheese gives you nightmares and sweets will keep you awake all night - but which are true? We’re going to put some of those theories to bed (see what we did there?)

Certain foods can be of huge benefit to you when you’re trying to get to sleep and other foods can make your brain more alert, in turn, making you struggle to sleep. With around a third of people struggling with insomnia, we’ve put together a list of the do’s and don'ts to help you sleep better in your bed at night.

The Do’s

Bananas

Bananas are packed with good stuff, but the benefits don't stop and nutrients and energy. They are also thought to benefit your sleeping pattern. Bananas are rich in magnesium which helps to relax your muscles. They also contain serotonin and melatonin which promotes natural sleep. 

bananas

Cherries

Similarly to bananas, cherries contain melatonin, one of the chemicals that helps to control our body’s internal clock. Travellers often take melatonin tablets to help them to sleep whilst travelling and to combat the effects of jet lag. Cherries are also a nice sweet and healthy treat to have as an alternative to sugary snacks.

Oats

Oats are full of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids which stimulate the release of melatonin in the brain, helping your body to shut off after a busy day. Oats also encourage the production of insulin which naturally raises your blood sugar levels without the need to eat sugary foods. 

oats

Turkey

Not a food commonly snacked on before heading to bed but if you’re having a late dinner, then turkey is a food you should consider. Turkey contains a chemical called tryptophan which helps you doze off, one of the many reasons people nap in front of the TV on Christmas Day! It won’t help with insomnia but it will certainly help your body prepare for sleep.

Sweet Potato

If you love to sleep (don't we all), then sweet potatoes can be your new and unlikely best friend. Not only do they promote sleep-inducing carbohydrates, but they are also filled with muscle-relaxing potassium. Regular potatoes also contain potassium as well as lima beans and papaya. 

sweet potato

Fatty Fish

Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, trout, and mackerel not only have huge health benefits, they also help you to sleep at night. A few ounces of fatty fish will help you achieve a deeper and more fulfilling sleep. It has been proved that men who eat 300 grams of salmon three times a week for six months were able to fall asleep 10 minutes faster than men who ate meats like chicken, pork or beef. 

Warm Milk

The last of the dos comes in liquid form. Warm milk can be incredibly beneficial and is an age-old remedy for those who struggle with sleeping. Milk contains a significant amount of tryptophan which promotes sleep and helps to regulate our natural sleep state.

milk

Don’ts

Cheese

Have you ever heard the myth that eating cheese before bed causes nightmares? Hard cheeses contain high levels of amino acid tyramine which promotes alertness in our brains. So, despite the popularity of post-dinner cheese boards, if you value a good night’s sleep then a cheesy snack shouldn’t be first on your list.

Spicy Food

As enjoyable as they are, spicy foods can cause you to have… digestion issues. As well as indigestion, curries also contain chilli peppers which are filled with capsaicin. Making it harder for your body to regulate its temperature, in turn, making it more difficult to get the sleep you need.

chilli peppers

Fatty Food

Fatty foods like burgers, fried foods, and baked goods are hard for your stomach to digest and can cause heartburn which gets in the way of sleep. Although it’s tempting to divulge in a greasy burger, these are the kinds of food you need to avoid if you’re wanting to get a good night’s sleep. 

Caffeinated drinks

Although not a food, you also need to be careful of what you drink before going to bed as these can have an equally bad impact on your sleep. Drinks like red bull and coffee are full of caffeine, a stimulant used to keep you awake and more alert, the last thing you need when you’re trying to wind down.

coffee beans in glass

Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate has a similar effect to caffeinated drinks, with a standard chocolate bar containing around the same amount of caffeine as three cups of decaffeinated coffee. Chocolate is also filled with theobromine another stimulant which can increase your heart rate and result in sleepless nights.

Alcohol

One of the biggest culprits of a sleepless night is the one many of us know all too well. Although a glass of wine before bed can leave you feeling sleepy, it only benefits you in the short term. Alcohol disrupts your sleep cycle and increases your heart rate which makes it difficult for you to slip into deep natural sleep. So, although it might be tempting, try your best to avoid it. 

bottle and glass of red wine

Water

This one may surprise you as water is incredibly important for our bodies but it can cause one big issue for your sleep cycle, urine. The more water you drink before bed, the more likely you are to need to get out of bed and head to the toilet. Try and keep your water consumption to the day time and stop a few hours before heading to bed.  

These are just a handful of the best and worst things you can consume before bed. For more sleep advice, feel free to get in touch with us and a member of our team will be able to help you.

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