Image: Andy Chiltern
We’ve all been there. After an early morning wake-up call, a hectic day that featured back-to-back meetings/a stressful system meltdown/a worry-inducing presentation to your boss, a post-work exercise class and a mad dash to get home, you *think* that you’ll nod off the second that your head hits the pillow. And yet your body has other ideas, keeping you tossing and turning well past bedtime.
If this rings true for you, then you could find that a few additions to your diet could help you to reach the land of nod more effortlessly. Try working these sleep-boosting foods into your lunch or dinner (check out the links to a healthy recipe idea for each) for a more restful night and, as a result, a more productive day.
When it comes to helping you sleep, bananas are – well, bananas. Magnesium, potassium, B6, tryptophan – bananas contain them all. Mix them with oats and walnuts (also sleep-boosters!) by using the recipe below to make scrumptious yet healthy snacks…
Recipe we love: Banana walnut oat bars (Love Food Eat)
Carb-lovers rejoice! Eating a rice-heavy meal could aide sleep, according to a recent study in Japan (where people consume ten times as much rice as Europeans and Northern Americans). Rice is high-GI, which is known to increase levels of tryptophan, which the brain converts to serotonin and then to melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep. Keep your pasta and noodle intake to a minimum though – the study found that they actually hindered sleep.
Recipe we love: Chicken, edamame and ginger pilaf (BBC Good Food)
Here’s another reason to make fish a regular fixture on your supermarket shopping list: as well as being high in protein and a source of health-boosting omega-3 fatty acids, it’s also another great source of tryptophan, AKA the melatonin maker. What’s more, most fish (cod, salmon, halibut, tuna and trout included) contain high levels of B6, which is also needed to help make that magic melatonin. (Healthy) fish suppers all round!
Recipe we love: Ginger roast cod with sesame-dressed salad (Delicious)
The humble cherry is one of the only foods to naturally contain – yep, you’ve guessed it – melatonin. Earlier this year a small American study found that participants who drank tart cherry juice twice a day for two weeks reported that they slept better. Keep a bag in the fridge and graze as you prepare dinner, or else try the tasty treats below…
Recipe we love: Almond cherry bites (Eating Well)
5. Dark, leafy greens
Pile your plate high with dark, leafy greens such as spinach, kale and red chard – they’re packed full of potassium, magnesium and calcium, all of which play an important part in helping you fall asleep. Magnesium and potassium are natural muscle relaxants and as such help your body wind down in preparation for sleep, while calcium is another aide to melatonin production (which is why so many people swear by a milky drink before bedtime).
Recipe we love: Kale chips (Deliciously Ella)