Add these simple ingredients to your shopping list and see your sleep improve!
It’s just typical. We spend the whole day feeling completely exhausted, and then the minute our head hits the pillow we’re more wide awake than ever. What gives? The truth is it could be a number of things, from stress to eating the wrong foods before bed. But in the same way that some foods keep us awake, there are some foods that help you sleep too.
Historically, human sleeping patterns were directly linked with the natural light and dark cycles of nature. Dwindling light levels stimulated a nerve pathway in the brain, encouraging it to produce the sleep-inducing hormones, melatonin and serotonin.
The great news is those same triggers can also be found in everyday foods – the secret is to know exactly the foods that help you sleep.
Add these simple ingredients to your shopping list and see your sleep improve instantly! Click through for menu inspiration too – delicious recipes that will help you sleep soundly starting tonight…
Discover more natural ways to sleep well
As well as being delicious, cherries are packed with melatonin! Try drinking a refreshing glass of cherry juice before bed for a full night of shut eye.
These miracle legumes not only keep you fuller for longer, but they are jam packed with the B6 vitamin. B6 is paramount to helping your body produce the feel good hormone, serotonin, which allows your muscles to relax and your mind to switch off ready for bed. Hummus is a great source, or why not try incorporating chick peas in to a healthy curry.
Packed with calcium, leafy greens such as kale, broccoli and spinach are not only fantastic for inducing a good night’s rest, but they also keep you feeling fuller for longer so you won’t wake up in the middle of the night because of frustrating blood sugar fluctuations.
Refreshing and completely moreish, grapes are not just a healthy snack. New research has revealed that popular grape varieties used to make wines such as Merlot, Sangiovese and Cabernet are high in levels of melatonin. Melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the body’s pineal gland. During the day, the pineal gland is inactive. But as the sun sets, the pineal gland is activated, encouraging the production of the hormone that reduces alertness and increases drowsiness. But don’t think this is an opportunity to imbibe before bed, only grapes in their natural form increase melatonin. Wine, and alcohol in general, can actually keep you awake.
Old wives tales may suggest that cheese will give you nightmares, but the truth is dairy products are ideal for helping you to drift off. The secret is calcium, which is essential in allowing the body to process the sleep-inducing hormones, tryptophan and melatonin.
Eggs are a fantastic source of tryptothan, an amino acid that enables the production of serotonin. Try hard boiling a box of eggs at the start of the week and keep them in a plastic container in the fridge as a quick, protein-boosting snack.
Most nuts contain a hormone called melatonin which is crucial for good sleep. Melatonin both regulates your sleep cycle and causes drowsiness – the perfect combination!
Add nuts to your dessert or snack on walnuts in the evening for a melatonin boost your body will be able to absorb.
We all know that salmon is a great source of omega-3, but did you know that super-healthy fat also helps create melatonin?
And it’s not just salmon – other oily fish also contain large amounts of omega-3.
Beans and other vegetables contain bumper amounts of Vitamin B, which helps your body regulate the sleep cycle and produce serotonin – an important ‘ingredient’ to produce melatonin.
Eating complex carbs can make you sleepy (it’s that ‘food coma’ feeling!) and healthy sweet potatoes contain muscle-relaxing potassium as well.
For a slow release of the energy from complex carbs, add whole grains like bulgur wheat and pearl barley to your dinner plate.
Turkey contains tryptophan, which boosts serotonin production. What’s more, tryptophan can’t be created by the body – which makes including it in your diet even more important.
Honey has been a natural sleep aid for thousands of years. Try this quick hit of carbohydrates in chamomile tea just before bed and enjoy the feeling of drifting off…
Milk has always been a great source of melatonin and tryptophan, but recently some German farmers realised that milking their cows at night resulted in milk with up to a hundred times more melatonin than normal milk! Look for Nachtmilchkristalle crystals, which you can stir into any milky drink.
Bananas are a good source of Vitamin B6, another ‘ingredient’ needed to help your body make melatonin.
Click through for your delicious sleep-boosting menu (including an indulgent banana bread…)
Sweet pear, crunchy walnuts and salty feta – lots of flavours and textures combine in this pear, feta, walnut and pea shoot salad recipe to make the perfect starter or light lunch.
This delicious seared salmon with spinach and soy stir-fried noodles recipe is a brilliant supper if you have trouble sleeping midweek – it’s ready in just 25 minutes!
This mixed bean salad with radish, pomegranate and goat’s cheese recipe is great as a side dish for roast lamb or as a main course with bread.
Give this comfort food classic a twist with a herby sweet potato topping – your whole family will love this mini shepherds pie with sweet potato mash recipe.
This Middle Eastern-inspired fruit & nut bulgur wheat salad recipe will inspire you to cook with this underrated grain more often!
This simple turkey stir-fried rice recipe is packed with flavour – and a great way to use up any leftovers from Sunday’s roast.
When figs are at their best nothing beats keeping it simple, like this honey spiced figs with hazelnuts recipe.
An indulgent treat that makes a stylish dinner party dessert, you’ll love this panna cotta with roasted figs and honey recipe.
This decadent chocolate hazelnut milkshake recipe is so quick to make – perfect late at night if you’re having trouble nodding off.
Our baked dark cherry and almond cheesecake recipe is a dense, creamy cheesecake that is not too sweet, served with a cherry compote on top.
This showstopping spiced banana bread recipe is full of rich flavours – and you won’t be able to resist the naughty chocolate topping!