Having trouble sleeping? There are things you can do within your diet to help better your sleep, says Third Space nutritionist Stephanie Goold.
There are two basic forms of insomnia:
- Sleep-onset insomnia – where a person has difficulty falling asleep.
- Sleep-maintenance insomnia – where a person suffers from frequent or early awakening.
The most common causes are psychological, such as depression and anxiety. If psychological reasons don’t seem to be causal, then perhaps foods, drinks and medications could be accountable.
What can you do to help?
It’s essential to remove stimulants such as caffeine – found in soft drinks, coffee, teas, chocolate and even coffee flavoured foods. For hyper-sensitive people, small amounts found in decaffeinated tea and coffee, can affect sleep quality.
Alcohol and nicotine, particularly late in the afternoon/evening can worsen sleep. Be mindful that some over-the-counter cold and headache medications can contain caffeine. Also, anti-histamines can interfere with normal sleep, so should be avoided where possible. Food colouring and additives can have a stimulant effect, so be wary of heavily processed foods.
Everyone is different, so be mindful of any food sensitivities and allergies. Try keeping a food/symptom diary to help pin-point culprit foods and drinks.
Ensure all meals and snacks contain protein, healthy fat and slow-release carbohydrates – for steady energy and blood sugar balancing.
- Protein sources, including meat, fish, eggs, dairy, soy
- Healthy fat sources, including avocado, olives, nuts, seeds, olive oil, coconut oil
- Carbohydrates, including wholegrain bread, pasta, grains, oats, brown rice, starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, white potatoes and squashes
Foods high in the amino acid tryptophan, may help to promote sleep:
- Cottage cheese
- Eating one or two kiwi fruit an hour before bedtime may help sleep quality
Try not to eat too much, or too late at night – so that you aren’t still digesting at bedtime. Be wary of fatty and spicy foods that can cause digestive discomfort such as acid reflux.
We are all biochemically unique, lead different lifestyles and therefore have varying nutritional requirements. If you’d like personalised advice, please contact: email@example.com