- A quarter of British adults reportedly suffer from disrupted sleep.
- Busy lives and hectic city living make it difficult to switch off at bedtime.
- Nutritionist Dr Lisa Gatenby believes that milk, brazil nuts, and carbohydrates are the key to getting a good night’s sleep.
Many of us are over-stimulated in our everyday lives and struggle to wind down in the evening.
When it comes to putting head to the pillow and trying to clock off, there’s nothing more frustrating than a body and brain that won’t stop racing.
A quarter of adults report poor sleep, according to nutritionist Dr Lisa Gatenby. Not getting enough sleep can lead to poor hand-eye coordination, troublesome skin, a depleted immune system, and even poor diet choices.
However, Gatenby believes that a good diet can, in fact, improve the quality of our sleep.
For Gatenby, there are three foods that are better than any others when it comes to helping our bodies unwind by the time our head hits the pillow.
1. A warm, milky drink
“It’s something your Grandmother will have told you to do as a child, but there is scientific evidence to support this,” said Gatenby.
“Milk is shown to help our muscles relax and thereby helps the body relax and get ready to sleep.”
2. Brazil nuts
If you find yourself tossing and turning through the night, try nibbling on a couple of brazil nuts before bedtime.
“These are high in the nutrient selenium,” explained Gatenby.
Selenium has dozens of benefits for all aspects of body, including cognitive function, hair and nails, the immune system, and even fertility for both genders.
“If we don’t have enough of this in our diet we can struggle to get to sleep. Three Brazil nuts is enough.”
3. Filling carbohydrates
There’s a reason why we turn to carbs in our moments of need. Carbohydrates trigger a release of serotonin, according to Gatenby, which consequently causes feelings of wellbeing and happiness.
Sometimes this sense of fulfilment is all we need to help us drift off in the evening.
“Have carbohydrates with your evening meal,” advised Gatenby. Serotonin helps to calm the body, so a dinner laden with carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, rice, and even pasta will not only fill you up but also make you feel good and improve your quality of sleep that night.”
There are also three things you should avoid before bed, according to Gatenby.
1. Sugary snacks
While carbs can help, you need to be smart in which ones you select — Dr Gatenby doesn’t recommend any sugary snacks or starchy foods before bedtime.
“Avoid sugary foods which cause spikes in our blood sugar throughout the day and makes us feel worse rather than better. Sugar contains no nutrients and nothing our body needs,” she said.
“Avoid caffeine after lunchtime,” Gatenby advised.
“It might be nice to enjoy a morning cuppa or coffee, however, avoid it after lunch and switch to water to hydrate.”
It’s not just coffee that’s the culprit, either.
“Even decaf varieties [of some coffee and instant coffee] contain some caffeine (often around 12mg per mug) and can disrupt sleep in some people. Remember cans of coke, energy drinks, and chocolate also contain caffeine!”
“Reduce your alcohol intake,” advised Gatenby.
“Although it may help you feel sleepy, the effects are short-lived and [it] prevents the body from falling into a deeper sleep, meaning you will feel tired in the morning. It also provides empty calories and sugar and so is best limited to one small glass!”
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