Guest post by Sarah Cumming from Sleep Advisor
“You are what you eat.” I’m positive you’ve heard that saying upwards of a thousand times. Probably nine hundred of these times were from your mom. Bless her. She cares!
We’re all aware that what we fuel ourselves has a big impact on our health and wellbeing. But were you also aware that what you eat has a huge impact on how well you sleep? Well, I’m here to tell you it does – in a big way.
On the one hand, your diet has the power to delay sleep, cause frequent waking or simply reduce the quality of your overall slumber. On the other, eating the right things can dramatically improve your odds of catching an express train to nodland.
What makes a good pre-bed healthy snack? Well, as you will see from the list below all share a few things in common. They satiate the appetite without causing too much work for the digestive system. The last thing the body needs before hitting the hay is a large amount of work to do.
Other common connections between foods known as sleep promoters are a set of useful nutrients. One is the amino acid tryptophan, a substance that the body utilises to produce two key neurotransmitters essential in regulating the sleep cycle, melatonin and serotonin. Others are magnesium and potassium, which help the body with muscle function and relaxation. And calcium, which like tryptophan increases the body's production of melatonin.
So now we have a little bit of background knowledge, let’s go ahead and look at the contenders for best healthy sleep-promoting snacks. Below are my top 3.
These little flavoursome nuts are amongst the best sleep-inducing snacks available. Firstly they are packed full of protein and as such do a fine job in satiating any hunger pangs. A handful of these beauties before bed will dramatically lowered the chances you will wake in the night with a grumbling belly.
They are also jam-packed with tryptophan and calcium. Meaning chowing down on a pile of almonds will help your body regulate melatonin production, increasingly the likelihood you will feel drowsy at the correct times. They are also high in magnesium, helping your muscles to relax, heightening your chances of drifting off promptly.
On top of the all the goodness mentioned above, almonds also contain other useful nutrient known as niacin, also known as vitamin B3. Higher levels of niacin are thought to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.
The less stressed you are the better your sleep is going to be, this is something the team at the Sleep Advisor blog get into all the time. Anything you can do to calm your racing mind before bed is a huge plus point.
Go almonds. You little nutty beauties!
Ah, bananas, the curvy yellow joker of the fruit world. Who doesn’t love bananas? Nobody that’s who. And what’s not to love, not only are they hilarious to look at, bananas are incredibly good for our health, and our sleep.
Like almonds, bananas are overflowing with tryptophan. They also contain around 8% of your RDI of magnesium. So far, so good. It gets better. The yellow fruit also comes high in potassium.
Magnesium and potassium work well as a team to relax muscles, regulate blood pressure and promote healthy digestion, three things that will help you get to sleep.
One word of warning before you start gobbling down nanas like a starving monkey – if you suffer from sleep apnea then bananas before bed are not always recommended. Bananas have a tendency to increase mucus production. If you have issues with your airwaves in the night time, adding extra mucus to the equation is not recommended.
If you don’t have sleep apnea then my advice is go ahead and go bananas for bananas!
Up next in our list of top sleep promoting snacks is the humble kiwi fruit. Yep, that weird green hairy looking thing you’ve seen at the health food store that you’ve always been a little bit suspicious about. Next time you see it, buy as many as you can carry. They are brilliant for sleep.
After hobbits, beautiful rugby players and amazing scenery, kiwis are probably New Zealand’s most famous export. With good reason. The small green fruits are low in calories but high in nutrients, providing a whopping 117% of your vitamin C for the day. That’s about double the amount you’d find in an orange. Laters oranges, you time wasters!
Not only that, they are full of potassium, which as we’ve already covered above is an unbelievably useful substance for promoting healthy sleep.
One study conducted by researchers at the Taipei Medical University in Taiwan, found that individuals who consumed two kiwifruits an hour before hitting the sack each night fell asleep a hell of a lot quicker than those who didn't. 43% quicker in fact. Wozzers!
Well, there you have it sleep hunters, three incredibly healthy, delightfully tasty and best of all, very potent, sleep promoting snacks. So tonight skip the cookies and have a bowl of fruit and nuts with your warm glass of milk. Your sleep will thank you tremendously. Sweet dreams!