More and more research is pointing to the importance of a good night’s sleep in performance, mental and physical health, appetite and even cell renewal. But for many of us, modern life seems to be an endless struggle to fall asleep, followed by a morning fight against grogginess.
We try to counter our disrupted sleep cycles with caffeine and sweet treats, only to find our sleep disrupted even further. So which everyday ingredients help, rather than hinder a peaceful night?
Nutritionist Cassandra Barns explains how oats can have a positive effect on our sleeping patterns and can help us drift off. “As well as being a good way to start the day, oats can be a great way to end the day. Surprisingly, your body requires energy to sleep, as well as to be active. The slow-releasing carbohydrates in oats drip-feed your cells with energy throughout the night, and can stop your blood sugar from falling too low and waking you up. The carbohydrates can also help the amino acid, tryptophan, to cross into your brain to make melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep-wake cycle.”
Hydrating and soothing, herbal teas are a great alternative to a normal cuppa and can have a wide range of digestive and calming effects. They also will help you minimise your caffeine intake (try to not have any coffee or PG tips after midday).
Salmon and tuna are high in vitamin B6, which is instrumental in making serotonin and melatonin, hormones that relax you and prepare you for sleep. They’re also universally known to be good for you in a variety of different ways and good health contributes to good sleep. Experts recommend eating at least two portions of fatty fish a week – but few of us in the UK actually achieve that amount.
For food on the go, itsu has a range of fresh, healthy and Omega-3 packed lunches that won’t break the bank.
Chocolate can boost serotonin, helping you sleep, but eat too much and you might be kept up by the naturally occurring caffeine content. Ombar’s raw chocolate preserves all the nutrients in fermented cacao that are sometimes eliminated through pasteurisation in other brands. It uses coconut sugar, a gentler and less refined alternative to cane and tastes delicious too.