We all know the incredible benefits of a good nights sleep and often we have also experienced the horrible sluggish feeling that comes with not getting enough shut eye.
Various studies show that we should get between 6 – 8.5 hours sleep each night; but how can we make sure we nod off to dreamland each night?
Having a night-time routine can be of massive benefit, as can switching off from technology for a few hours before bedtime to prevent your brain being stimulated by the blue light emissions, but if you are having trouble letting your body shut down, before you reach for the sleeping pills, why not check out some of the natural sleep aids that can help you drift off…
Most people will enjoy a banana during the day as they appreciate the boost of energy that they can give us, which is often why they are overlooked as something that can help us sleep.
Bananas are high in potassium, which is a mineral that is essential to deep sleep. They also contain tryptophan and magnesium, which both help your muscles relax and can act as a mild sedative to ensure a good nights sleep .
If you’re looking for a natural vitamin B to help alleviate stress and anxiety, try beans. They contain a nice smattering of different B vitamins to regulate your sleep cycles and niacin (which warms the body) to help your body relax and drift off.
Most of us will have been given some warm milk to help us sleep, and although we probably assumed our parents were just trying to comfort us, dairy products have a healthy dose of Tryptophan which boosts the bodies production of melatonin which helps us sleep.
If you are already having a warm glass of milk (see the benefit of dairy above) or if you are having a cup of tea, adding a drizzle of honey may be of incredible benefit. Natural honey contains glucose which when absorbed by the body lowers levels of orexin, a neurotransmitter that makes us alert.
Like dairy, leafy greens contain high levels of calcium, which is important for producing sleep hormones. Adding leafy vegetables to your evening meal can set the body in motion for having a restful sleep.
While you may want to avoid any large meals prior to bedtime, if you are feeling peckish, you could try having some wholegrains. A slice of toast will help the body produce insulin, which helps transmit tryptophan to the brain to help produce melatonin.
As well as being utterly delicious, nuts can be a great snack, one, for helping your body feel fuller and also for helping produce serotonin (an amino acid derived from tryptophon that helps produce melatonin and help us to sleep) They are also rich in magnesium which helps the body relax.
Walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are best as they are easily available and contain the highest levels of the natural sedatives.
If you are ever in need of an excuse to have a sneaky cookie (or bowl of oatmeal) before bedtime, Cookies (or oatmeal) could actually help you get a good nights sleep!
Oats are a natural source of melatonin, which helps regulate the bodys sleep-wake cycle. So go ahead, eat that cookie!
Did you fall asleep after last years Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner? No, it’s not just because you stuffed yourself full and your body needed a rest (although that is part of the reason as well)
Turkey, and indeed all poultry, contains sleep-inducing tryptophan. So, if you find yourself in need of a snack before bedtime, some chicken or turkey onto a piece of whole wheat bread is the ideal snack. Both are great for helping you sleep.
Following on from poultry, It probably wont surprise you to know that eggs are also a good source of tryptophan. So, eggs on wholegrain toast are now firmly on the supper menu.
Chickpeas are amazing, they help you eat less, they are delicious and they are an excellent source of vitamin B6, which helps your body produce serotonin, helping you rest.
And its not just hummus, you can incorporate chickpeas into your curries, stews, and many more dishes.
If you were going through this list thinking you would have to rely on honey for your sweetness fix, relax! We have another option.
Cherries are super high in melatonin. Eating cherries, or having a glass of cheery juice can help regulate your nights sleep cycles and are a refreshing treat for anyone suffering from insomnia.
And the sweet treats don’t end there, popular grape varieties contain high levels of melatonin.
You may be familiar with varieties like merlot and cabernet grape as commonly used to make wine, but although the occasional glass probably won’t hurt, it was the fruit that was found to contain melatonin, not the wine.
And before you reach for the bottle, alcohol can often have an adverse effect of sleep by disputing the sleep-wake cycles.
You probably wont be expecting tea to be on this list given that many teas are high in caffeine. But there are many types of tea that are caffeine free and can also aid your drift off to dreamland.
And there are lots to choose from…
Chamomile tea for example has calming effects, Green tea contains the amino theanine, which has been shown to help reduce stress and lemon balm, part of the mint family, helps the body relax.
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All information above is for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace the services of a physician or qualified health care practitioner. Those with health concerns or who may be pregnant are specifically advised to consult their physician prior to taking on any further courses of treatment.