Can’t sleep? You’re not alone. A study into the sleep habits of our nation found that a mere 38% of us can be classified as ‘good sleepers’, whereas 30% of us suffer from severe sleep deprivation1 – so it’s not just you who struggles to switch off at night!
The thing is, we need good quality sleep to survive and thrive in all aspects of our life. Regular high-quality sleep gives us the energy needed to tackle each and every day, as well as helping:
- promote positive mental wellbeing
- protect our immune system
- cell growth and repair
- improve our sex lives
Whereas regularly experiencing poor sleep could put you at serious risk of health conditions like obesity, heart disease, anxiety, depression, diabetes, and high blood pressure, as well as shortening your overall life expectancy2 – making it very important to get those ZZZs in night after night.
The food, drinks and macronutrients we consume play a huge part in how well or badly we sleep. That’s why we’ve collected the best research-backed tips to help you switch off at the end of the day and get the peaceful and restorative night’s rest your body needs.
Enjoy a snooze-y supper
Foods containing certain hormones – and compounds that promote hormonal activity like magnesium and calcium – can have gentle sedative and sleep-inducing effects.3 Here are some foods that help you sleep:
- warm milk / soy milk
- plain yoghurt
- peanut butter
- sunflower seeds
Try eating at least one of these 4-5 hours before bedtime. Read more about some of them here.
Relax with valerian
Valerian is a traditional herbal remedy that people have been taking for centuries to help them relax and improve their sleep quality. The safe and naturally relaxing root is still used today by some people who struggle to ‘switch off’ at night4, so it may be worth a try!
Eat breakfast by the window
Are you in the ‘scoff it down and shoot out the door’ breakfast club? If you’re struggling to sleep, it may be time to take a slower approach in the morning and enjoy eating breakfast by the window. By doing so, you get a shot of early morning light (even if its overcast) that can help reset your body clock. The light will help you feel more awake at the start of your day, which should, in turn, help you feel sleepy in the evening.
Snack yourself to sleep
Ok, so it’s not advisable to tuck into a full meal an hour before bed but having a little snack could actually help you doze off. Go for a low-GI combo of slow-release carbs and protein to help keep your blood sugar steady so you don’t wake up. We recommend an oatcake topped with almond butter.
Make sure you get enough magnesium
Magnesium is an essential mineral, which has been shown to both help people fall asleep and stay asleep for longer.5 Try taking a supplement or eating foods like tofu, spinach, almonds, avocados and dark chocolate to keep your levels up.
Our bodies make 5-HTP from foods containing the amino acid tryptophan – like turkey, eggs, salmon and seeds5– and then turns it into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood. If you think some of your sleep issues could be due to anxiety, e.g. racing thoughts and worries before bed, making sure you have enough 5-HTP could help you improve the quality and increase the duration of your sleep.6
Give caffeine a curfew
It’s a no-brainer not to neck an espresso just before you go to bed if you want to enjoy any sleep. But if you’re having trouble nodding off, you may have to extend the caffeine curfew and avoid your regular teas and coffees after 4pm. You can still enjoy a nice cuppa – just choose decaf or switch to herbal teas.
Aside from decaffeinated tea, what is the best tea for sleep? Instead of your regular brew – which may be hindering your sleep – try sipping some of these teas in the evening to see if they can help you nod off:
- Lemon balm tea: Part of the mint family, lemon balm tea has been used for centuries to help people de-stress and sleep. A recent – albeit small – study found that people taking lemon balm for 15 days showed a 43% reduction in insomnia symptoms7, so drinking a cup or two in the evening could help you switch off.
- Chamomile tea: Delicate and calming, chamomile tea is one of the most popular sleep-inducing drinks out there. This natural beauty contains an antioxidant called apigenin, which attaches itself to brain receptors that could help get you feeling sleepy.8
There are more top sleep tips where that came from!
Last updated: 5th October 2020