Sleep plays an incredible role in our lives. Overall, it enables our bodies to a) repair, emotionally and physically, and b) recharge, ready for the next day.1
But not all of us get the recommended quota of sleep every night and, when we do drop off, we don’t always get a good night’s sleep. Some people may even suffer from insomnia, which means they find it difficult to fall or stay asleep.2
How much sleep do we need?
According to the Sleep Council, adults need around seven to nine hours of sleep a night. One-year-olds need between 11 and 14 hours. And teenagers, anywhere between eight and ten.3
What stops us from sleeping?
Sleep disrupters include diet (e.g. too much caffeine that can overstimulate your brain or spicy, fatty foods that can longer for your body to break down and digest). Other culprits include lack of exercise, stress, depression and poor or non-existent sleep routines.4
Sleep help measures
If you’re struggling to sleep, there are certain things you can do.
Some sleep help tactics work better than others on different people. You may find you need to try a few things before you discover what works for you.
Foods that help you sleep
There’s certain food we should steer clear of before bed, e.g. caffeine and spicy food mentioned above, and there’s food that can help encourage and improve sleep quality. Such as:
- Almonds – are said to help us sleep better because of the melatonin they contain, which is a sleep-regulating hormone.5
- Fatty fish – the Omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin D that’s in the likes of tuna, salmon, mackerel and trout can increase our serotonin levels, which is a sleep-inducing brain chemical.6
- Walnuts – like almonds, walnuts also contain melatonin. In fact, they’re reportedly one of the best food sources of melatonin, which is responsible for setting our sleep/wake cycles.7
- Turkey – while there may be limited studies exploring the relationship between turkey and sleep, there’s widespread acknowledgement of the fact it does contain amino acid tryptophan. And this can increase melatonin levels.8
- Bananas – do help bananas help you sleep? Well, they do contain potassium and magnesium, which happen to be natural muscle relaxants. They also contain amino acid L-tryptophan, which plays a part in producing serotonin and melatonin.9
Drinks that help you sleep
- Chamomile tea – research has found chamomile’s calming properties may help improve sleep quality. One study of 80 women, who drank chamomile tea for two weeks, found that they slept better towards the end of it.10
- Peppermint tea – some research has shown that peppermint can help ease upset stomachs in the evenings, which may help improve sleep.11
- Decaffeinated green tea – the decaf version of green tea contains minimal caffeine, as well as something called theanine, which is an amino acid that can help reduce stress and promote sleep.12
Vitamins to help sleep
Certain vitamins have been proven to aid sleep too. They include Vitamins D, E, C, B6 and B12. They can help improve sleep quality, as well as our ability to fall asleep.13
- Vitamin D – being deficient in this vitamin can result in you having shorter sleep cycles
- Vitamin E – can help improve night-time breathing and sleep quality
- Vitamin C – those who have lower Vitamin C levels are more likely to have shorter sleeps and experience interrupted sleep too
- Vitamin B6 – helps with the production of serotonin and melatonin
- Vitamin B12 – can help regulate sleep/wake cycles
Sleep products to help you sleep
There are specific sleep help products on the market that can help in your pursuit to catch some ZZZZs. They include:
- Sleep sprays – spritz them on your pillow before you go to sleep and let mix of sleep-inducing ingredients do their thing. This Works’ best-selling Deep Sleep Pillow Spray contains an award-winning blend of lavender, vetivert and camomile.
- Sleep candles – can help promote sleep by soothing the senses and helping you to relax as you inhale a therapeutic mix of ingredients. Take a deep breathe in and…. relax.
- Earplugs for sleeping – can help you get to sleep and sleep better by blocking out disruptive noises. Before you pop them in, up your relaxation levels by listening to some relaxing sleep music. According to the Sleep Foundation, older adults who listen to 45 minutes of relaxing music before bed fall asleep faster, sleep longer and wake up less.14
For more sleep help read, ‘What is the best sleeping position?’
Last updated: 18 August 2020