It’s tempting to rely on gallons of coffee to get you through the day, but you really should be focusing on getting a good night’s rest instead.
But how do you manage that between your job, kids, social life and all the other things you pack into your day? The good news is, there is something you can do to help you get a good night’s sleep and boost your energy levels, and it comes down to what you are eating.
Dr Marilyn Glenville, a nutritionist and author of Natural Solutions for Dementia and Alzheimer’s, says what you eat has a big impact on how easily you get to sleep. She told The Sun Online: “As a society we are sleeping less, the time we sleep each night has reduced from 9 hours to 7.5 hours since the 1900s.
“Sleep is important for your health because it gives your body time to recharge its batteries and repair cells and tissue.
“When you don’t get enough or good quality sleep you can feel irritable, with poor concentration and, of course, tired.
“What you eat can either help you to go to sleep easily or make it more difficult.”
Here’s what you should be eating for a better night’s sleep.
1. Curb the caffeine
You may know that you shouldn’t drink a cup of coffee before hitting the hay.
But did you know you need to avoid chocolate too?
“Foods and drinks that have a stimulant effect usually containing caffeine – such as tea, coffee, colas and chocolate – are going to make it more difficult for you to be able to switch off and go to sleep,” says Marilyn.
2. Eat pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds are packed with magnesium.
Magnesium works to relax your muscles and is often used to help relieve aches and pains.
Cassandra said: “Pumpkin seeds are naturally high in magnesium.
“One of the roles of magnesium is allowing the muscle fibres in our body to relax – it counteracts 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 – a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and helps us to fall asleep.
“Try including one to two tablespoons of pumpkin seeds a day: add them to sugar-free yoghurt or salads, or grind them up in a coffee grinder and add to porridge.”
You could also try a daily dose of magnesium with Nature’s Plus KalmAssure Magnesium Capsules.
3. Cut cramps with coconut water
Coconut water has become a popular staple among health bloggers and Instagram queens of late.
It tastes great and is a great alternative to some sugary drinks.
But it ‘s also a natural pain reliever, says Cassandra.
She said: “Try drinking a glass of pure coconut water in the evening to help you to have 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 may cause cramping and restless legs at night, and therefore disturbed sleep.”
4. Eat foods high in natural serotonin
There are some foods that are high in amino acids called tryptophan.
Tryptophan is works like serotonin, the body’s “happy hormone” that helps to maintain a person’s mood.
People with balanced serotonin levels tend to get a more restful night’s sleep than those with lower levels.
Marilyn explained: “Tryptophan occurs naturally in certain foods, such as fish, wholegrains, almonds and eggs, so you can use them in your evening meal to help you sleep.
“Tryptophan is one of a number of amino acids broken down from the protein you eat.
“But there are less tryptophan molecules in food than the other amino acids and it is easy for the tryptophan molecules not to get [through to] your brain because they are competing with the other amino acids.”
The amino acids found in protein, along with B vitamins and magnesium, can help you get to the land of nod faster.
“One of the biggest influence on our melatonin levels appears to be our intake of a type of protein called tryptophan,” Sophie Medlin, lecturer in nutrition and dietetics at King’s College London, wrote for The Conversation.
“Tryptophan is an essential amino acid – the building blocks of proteins. Essential amino acids are a group which our bodies cannot make, it can only be sourced through diet.
“Fish is a great source of tryptophan and B vitamins. Fish with bones, such as sardines, will also provide magnesium.
“Including fish in your diet regularly may help to promote healthy melatonin production when you need it.
“Pulses, beans and lentils also contain high amounts of tryptophan and B vitamins.
“Adding some tofu or paneer to a vegetable stew or curry can also help to increase your likelihood of having a great night’s sleep.
“You could also add in some soya – which is another good source of tryptophan – to optimise your sleep potential.”
5. Have a glass of milk
You may have heard that dairy make your sleep restless, but that’s an old wives’ tale.
“Not only is dairy an excellent source of tryptophan, but it also contains magnesium and B vitamins which help to promote the activity and availability of tryptophan,” Sophie added.
“Nuts, like dairy, also contain all the nutrients known to promote increase melatonin production and support its release.
“If you find yourself hungry before bed, for the ideal bed time snack, try a glass of semi-skimmed or skimmed milk, a small banana or a few nuts – all of which can really help to improve your sleep and your willpower the next day.”