Munch on these foods to help you nod off...
Bananas are a great slow-release energy food. “The exotic fruit is a natural muscle relaxant and a good source of potassium and magnesium,” explains nutritionist Sarah West (kiraforwomen.co.uk). “They also contain the amino acid L-tryptophan, which is converted in the brain to serotonin (a relaxing, sleep-regulating neurotransmitter) and melatonin (a hormone that helps control your sleep and wake cycles).” TIP Chop up a banana and serve with live natural yogurt and Manuka honey before bed.
Almonds are the perfect snack. “The nut helps keep your blood-sugar levels steady while you sleep, contain magnesium and are packed with protein,” says Sarah. “Plus, they are also a natural source of melatonin – consuming foods rich in this natural compound can help raise your blood levels significantly.” TIP Try almond butter on an oatcake or wholemeal toast as a prebedtime snack.
Camomile Tea is a flowering plant belonging to the daisy family and the most widely used medicinal plants in the world,” explains Sarah. “Chamomile teas are used to treat insomnia and induce calm; the effects may be due to the flavonoid apigenin that binds to receptors in your brain, which helps prevent anxiety.” TIP If you don’t like the taste of chamomile, why not try Kira Restful Sleep (£5.99, available from Boots)? A traditional herbal medicinal product containing 300mg of the dried extract of valerian root, providing relief from sleep disturbances.
Kiwi fruits are an effective cleanser. “The green fruit is full of many medicinally useful compounds, such as antioxidants and serotonin, which is beneficial to help you drift into a deep slumber,” says Sarah. “Oxidative stress has been shown to be higher in people who have sleep problems so eating foods high in antioxidants before bed may help combat this.” TIP Swap your mid-afternoon biscuit for a tasty kiwi fruit instead.
Oats are bursting with soluble fibre. “A hearty bowl of porridge can trigger a slight rise in blood-sugar and insulin production, stimulating the release of sleep-inducing brain chemicals,” Sarah says. “Oatmeal is also a source of complex carbohydrates and rich in the essential vitamin B6, which is vital for leaving you feeling calm and stress-free.” TIP Try mixed with a sprinkle of ground flaxseeds and a dollop of natural yogurt.