Foods for better sleep: You’ve probably heard the old saying that eating cheese before bedtime can cause bad dreams. However, while it’s true some foods can sabotage your chance of getting a good night’s rest, you’ll be thankful to know this isn’t one of them.
“It’s a myth that cheese gives you nightmares,” Dr Michael Mosley from The Fast 800 tells Woman’s Day.
In fact, a small serve of cheese is one of the better snack choices you can make if you’re feeling hungry late at night, thanks to the amino acid tryptophan.
“Tryptophan can be found in milk and dairy products, turkey and chicken, fish, oats, nuts and seeds,” Dr Mosley explains. “It’s a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which in turn is a precursor to melatonin – our sleep hormone.”
Other tryptophan-rich sources include bananas, wholegrain bread and dark chocolate. While we’re not recommending you go to bed with a full stomach, the meals you eat during the day also affect your sleep quality. Add the following foods to your next shopping list!
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GOOD FATS & CARBS
Simple carbohydrates (including cake and lollies) are a recipe for insomnia, but complex carbs like legumes and vegies can enhance your sleep quality. Dr Mosley also suggests incorporating plenty of healthy
fats, including olive oil and fatty fish varieties like salmon.
“These foods are high in oleic acid, omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols, which all happen to be anti-inflammatory compounds,” he explains.
“Inflammation can lead to various problems such as arthritis – causing interrupting pain while you try to sleep, and inflammation of the brain, which can contribute to poor sleep and dementia.”
“Fibre and fermented foods have been [seen] to be strongly associated with a good night’s sleep,” advises Dr Mosley.
Don’t be put off by pricy jars of sauerkraut at the shops – there are plenty of affordable ways to jump aboard the fermentation trend. Yoghurt and miso are two easy-to-find examples of fermented foods, along with sourdough, cottage cheese and apple cider vinegar. You can also make your own sauerkraut, kimchi or kefir for a fraction of the price of many storebought alternatives. Need some tips? There are plenty of websites (including thefast800. com) to help you get started.
THE MED DIET
There’s a reason why doctors love the Mediterranean diet of healthy fats and oils, veg and high-quality protein, and that’s because it really does work!
“A high-fibre Mediterranean diet increases the good bacteria in your gut and essentially makes you feel good through the production of serotonin,” says Dr Mosley. “This hormone acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain and is converted to melatonin in the evenings – the neurotransmitter responsible for sleep.
“As well as this, when we feel good, we are reducing our stress and anxiety levels, which ultimately will ensure we sleep better.”
Magnesium is essential for many body functions and it can also help you get more ZZZS!
“Magnesium is involved in hundreds of chemical reactions in the body, including regulating blood sugar, creating new proteins from amino acids aiding in muscle function and regulating neurotransmitters,” he says.
“When it comes to sleep, magnesium is crucial for helping muscle relaxation and regulating several neurotransmitters involved in sleep.”
Rye bread, avocado, nut, seeds, spinach and other leafy green vegies are all plentiful sources you can tuck into.