Top 10 foods and drinks for a better night’s sleep

Whether it’s the accidental cup of tea before bed, a refreshing soft drink while watching a movie, a glass of wine or a bottle of beer to wind down the evening, each one of these choices can have a lasting effect for a poorer night’s sleep or take an absolute age to finally hit the hay.

And we all know getting a good night’s sleep is incredibly important for your overall health. To put this into perspective, getting between the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each and every night can reduce your risk of developing certain chronic illnesses, keep your brain healthy, boost your immune system and reduce overall recovery time from body aches and pains or flu-like symptoms.

Now, there are many strategies and old adages you can use to promote a better night’s sleep, however, the easiest way is to simply make some changes to your diet and introduce foods and drinks that are proven to have sleep-promoting properties.

‘But how will I know which foods and drinks are going to help me get to sleep?’

Well, you’re in luck! It just so happens that we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 foods and drinks for a better night’s sleep. You can thank us tomorrow morning!

1. Cherries

Either in fruit form or in a juice, cherries offer some impressive health benefits. With generous amounts of magnesium and phosphorus, as well as being a good source of potassium too, studies have shown that drinking 240ml of tart cherry juice twice a day increased sleep duration by 84 minutes – yes almost an hour and a half!

2. Bananas

Now obviously we’re kicking off the list in controversial fashion. As it’s widely considered that bananas actually increase energy, however, they’re also rich in magnesium (which relaxes muscles) and they also contain high amounts of serotonin and melatonin (which is proven to encourage sleep).

3. Raw honey

According to Sammy Margo, author of The Good Sleep Guide, having just one teaspoon of honey is enough to stimulate the release of melatonin in the brain and shut off orexin (which keeps us alert), thus helping you to wind down.

And the best part, honey is delicious!

4. Almonds

Known as a great source of healthy fats, almonds are also bursting with tryptophan and magnesium, while also containing melatonin and other essential minerals like magnesium and zinc that are essential to a range of bodily processes. Though the exact amounts of these minerals can vary, in a clinical study it was found that a combination of melatonin, magnesium, and zinc helped older adults with insomnia get better sleep.

5. Turkey

One of the most famous sources of tryptophan, an amino acid proven to increase the production of melatonin, it’s also incredibly healthy offering a high percentage of protein that’s also proven to assist with better sleep quality and less waking up through the night.

Having more protein in your diet has also been determined to assist with weight loss, improve metabolic health, prevent less snacking, increase strength and tonnes of more benefits you can find here.

6. Chamomile tea

A popular herbal tea with a plethora of health benefits, including reducing inflammation, boosting immune system performance, reducing anxiety, improving skin health and lastly improve sleep quality.

Containing an essential antioxidant called apigenin, this antioxidant binds to certain receptors in your brain that may promote sleepiness and, in turn, reduce insomnia. In one 2011 study, 34 adults consumed 270mg of chamomile extract twice daily for 28 days and resulted in less night time wakening and faster sleep time – averaging 15 minutes faster to fall asleep.

7. Kiwi

A low-calorie and very nutritious fruit, this little miracle fruit can improve your digestive health, reduce inflammation, and lower your cholesterol thanks to the high amounts of fibre and carotenoid antioxidants that they provide. But did you know it can improve your sleep too!

According to studies on their potential to improve sleep quality, kiwis may also be one of the best foods to eat before bed. In a 4-week study, 24 adults consumed two kiwifruits one hour before going to bed each night. At the end of the study, participants fell asleep 42% more quickly than when they didn’t eat anything before bedtime. Additionally, sleeping through the night was improved by 5% and sleep time increased by 13%.

There’s no definitive prove why these little guys improve our sleep but it’s been suggested that the anti-inflammatory antioxidants may be partly responsible for the sleep-promoting benefits.

8. Fatty Fish

Aside from being incredibly healthy, fatty fish, particularly salmon, tuna, trout, and/or mackerel, offer exceptional amounts of vitamin D. Additionally, fatty fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids and the combination of both omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D has the potential to enhance sleep quality – as both have been shown to increase the production of serotonin.

In a research study over a period of months, results showed that people who ate salmon three times per week had better overall sleep as well as improved daytime functioning.

9. Passionflower tea

Not entirely dedicated to promoting sleep, passionflower tea is largely used as a calming herbal tea to help reduce anxiety and other health ailments. It’s offers a rich source of flavonoid antioxidants, known for their role in reducing inflammation, boosting immune health and reducing heart disease risk.

Accordingly to Sleep Foundation, ‘Anxiety is frequently connected to sleeping problems. Excess worry and fear make it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep through the night. Sleep deprivation can worsen anxiety, spurring a negative cycle involving insomnia and anxiety disorders.’

The antioxidant apigenin may be responsible for passionflower’s anxiety-reducing effects, so it may be beneficial to drink a cup of passionflower tea just before going to bed.

10. White rice

As you’re aware, rice is particular high in carbohydrates and having a high carbohydrate intake can result in a poorer night’s sleep – just remember the sleep you had after that large pizza on Saturday night. However, an independent study in Japan found that those who regularly ate rice reported better sleep than those who ate more bread or noodles.

The study supports prior research that showed that eating foods with a high glycaemic index around four hours before bedtime helped with falling asleep. The jury is still out on this one so if you don’t have any of the others in the pantry, give white rice a try and see how it goes.

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