How to sleep better – the 10 snacks to send you to sleep
Doctor explains why you should ‘never sleep in the nude’
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The average Brit sleeps for around 7.6 hours a night, which is about right for some people. We all need a different amount of sleep, but the NHS says adults need between six and nine hours of sleep every night. If you’re only managing a fraction of that amount, the consequences in both the short and long term can be extremely debilitating. Luckily, you can restore your sleep deficit and encourage better sleep by eating the correct foods. Express.co.uk chatted to a double board-certified physician in psychiatry and sleep medicine, Alex Dimitrui from Otty, to find out the 10 foods to eat before bed.
If you struggle to get enough sleep, changing up your diet could help.
Research shows that some specific foods contain sleep-promoting properties that will encourage you to drift off more easily and quickly.
Mr Dimitrui said: “In order to try and restore your sleep deficit, simple tweaks in your diet can help.
“Adding minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium, and iron onto your plate can help promote the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleep regulation.”
The expert has revealed the 10 foods that promote a good night’s sleep.
The best way to enjoy a good night’s sleep is to increase your melatonin intake, and a perfect way to do this is through the introduction of cherries to your diet.
Mr Dimitrui said: “They are great for snacking in front of the TV, can be dipped in melted chocolate as a great alternative to strawberries, and are also fantastic added to a fruit smoothie.
“If fruit doesn’t particularly interest you, then nuts and oats are also a great natural source of melatonin.
“When eaten regularly for breakfast or as a post-workout snack, they can help in regulating your sleep cycle.”
Chocoholics rejoice, you now have an excuse for indulging in that after dinner cocoa fix!
However, you need to make sure you’re stocking up on the dark variety rather than sugar-filled milk and white chocolate.
Mr Dimitrui explained: “Dark chocolate contains serotonin, which relaxes your body and mind, and promotes a general feeling of happiness.”
Walnuts contain a few compounds that help promote better sleep at night, such as melatonin, serotonin and magnesium.
Mr Dimitrui added: “Walnuts are fantastic when chopped up and added to a fresh salad, as a topping on cereal or yoghurt, or by themselves as a crunchy alternative to crisps or more unhealthy nuts.”
Almonds and almond butter contain tryptophan and magnesium, which both help to naturally reduce muscle and nerve function while also steadying your heart rhythm.
Mr Dimitrui said: “Eat whole almonds or spread almond butter on crackers, a banana, or a piece of toast when your late-night cravings hit.
“Be careful not to go overboard though, and keep your dollop under a tablespoon so you’re not feeling too full before attempting to rest.”
If hunger is at the root of your sleepless nights, try adding hummus as an accompaniment to your evening meal to fill you up.
Mr Dimitrui said: “The chickpea and tahini-based dip is a great source of tryptophan, which the body uses to help make melatonin and serotonin.
“Melatonin helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle, and serotonin is thought to help regulate appetite, sleep, mood, and pain.”
Whilst many may still perceive it as an old wives tale, Mr Dimitrui said chamomile tea has been proven to help ease the symptoms of insomnia.
He explained: “The herb contains a flavonoid compound that is known to harbour sleep-inducing properties, so once your taste buds become accustomed to the unique taste, a cup a night before bed could do wonders for your rest!”
Most of us have an over-reliance on consuming drinks with a diuretic effect, such as coffee, tea and alcoholic beverages, which makes us prone to bouts of dehydration if we don’t drink enough water.
Dr Dimitrui said: “As well as compromising your overall energy levels, dehydration could also be impacting your ability to not only fall asleep but remain asleep.
“Choosing watery fruits like watermelon can make up for any deficits.
“A simple two cup serving is half water, which will hydrate you before bed and eliminate post-dinner hunger pains due to its fibre and volume.
“Other fruits with high water content include pears, oranges and apples.”
Pistachios are perceived by some health specialists as the holy grail of nuts, and they are full of multiple sleep-inducing vitamins and minerals, including protein, magnesium, and vitamin B6.
However, Mr Dimitrui warns against eating more than a one-ounce portion of the nuts as this could keep you awake due to a high-calorie intake!
Swap your breakfast oats for nighttime oats to promote better sleep.
Mr Dimitrui said: “The grains in oatmeal trigger insulin production, which raises your blood sugar naturally and makes you feel sleepy.
“Oats are also rich in melatonin, which relaxes the body and helps you fall asleep.”
Bananas are packed with potassium and magnesium that are known to relax the muscles, therefore helping you to sleep.
The sleep expert said: “They also contain the amino acid L-tryptophan, which gets converted to 5-HTP in the brain. The 5-HTP is converted to serotonin, a relaxing neurotransmitter.”
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