In general, a varied Mediterranean diet is recommended for getting the best night’s sleep, but there are some specific nutrients which have been linked to a restful slumber. These include sleep-enhancers such as Tryptophan, Magnesium (a deficiency of which can cause insomnia), Vitamin D (deficiency associated with daytime sleepiness), Potassium (deficiency leads to difficulty staying asleep), Vitamin B (especially B6) Calcium and Antioxidants such as Vitamin C +E. With the help of Dave Gibson, founder of The Sleep Site and Sleep Consultant for Warren Evans, let’s take a look at some awesome foods to add into your sleep-enhancing diet, plus some delicious recipes to include them in!
Spinach, along with all green leafy vegetables is a fantastic food all round and contains tonnes of nutrients for sleep including magnesium, Vitamin B6, calcium, folate and Tryptophan. All of these are used as co-factors for synthesising Serotonin, a precursor of Melatonin, our sleep hormone. It also contains Potassium.
Contain potassium, magnesium, B Vitamins, and tryptophan as well as carbohydrate which can make you sleepy. They are regarded as great muscle relaxants.
In a test in Taiwan university adults who ate just two kiwifruits I hour before bedtime over a four week period fell asleep 35% quicker than those who weren’t given the fruit. Kiwi Fruit are especially rich in Vitamin C, which as an antioxidant and also contain Serotonin, which may be why they helped improve sleep. Kiwis are also rich in folate with insomnia a condition which occurs with deficiency of this Vitamin
Chia seeds are full of dietary fibre, and contain high levels of calcium, zinc, potassium, and omega 3 fatty acids which all are key sleep nutrients. They also contain twice the amount of tryptophan than turkey.
Yoghurt (especially Greek)
Yogurt is a great source of calcium and vitamin B12, which are both important for a good night’s sleep. You can also buy yogurt that is fortified with vitamin D and potassium which can be even more useful in helping you sleep. Yoghurt is also a source of friendly gut bacteria which are vital in good sleep.
One word about tryptophan
Tryptophan is an amino acid that’s linked to good quality sleep as it is a precursor to the sleep-inducing chemicals serotonin and melatonin, in the brain. For tryptophan to be effective it has to cross the blood brain barrier where it competes for absorption which other amino acids. The problem comes in that the amount of Tryptophan in protein is normally a lot lower than the other amino acids it competes for absorption with. However, when we eat carbohydrate with protein the other proteins can be blocked by the insulin which is released, meaning that more Tryptophan is absorbed.
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