Late night snacking isn’t ideal – think discomfort and indigestion – but neither is going to bed hungry – growling tummies and waking early ready for a big breakfast.
Certain foods are known to calm the brain and help promote sleep so choose the right kind of small snack before bed. The best snack is one that contains complex carbohydrates and protein to optimise tryptophan levels.
Top foods for sleep:
• Dairy products such as yoghurt and milk – because calcium is effective in stress reduction and stabilisation of nerve fibres, including those in the brain.
• Green leafy vegetables such as cabbage and spinach are also rich in stress reducing calcium.
• Low sugar, whole grain cereals – complex, carbohydrate-rich foods increase the availability of tryptophan in the bloodstream. Tryptophan is the amino acid that the body uses to make sleep-inducing serotonin and melatonin, the relaxing neurotransmitters that slow down nerve traffic and stop the brain buzzing.
• Bananas are an excellent source of magnesium and potassium which help relax overstressed muscles. They also contain all-important tryptophan to stimulate production of those key brain calming hormones.
• Almonds are another winner as they contain magnesium which promotes both sleep and muscle relaxation. They have the added benefit of supplying proteins which help maintain a stable blood sugar level while sleeping and switch the body from alert adrenaline cycle to rest-and-digest mode.
• Most fish – it contains vitamin B6 which again encourages production of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness. Chick peas similarly contain vitamin B6 and are again helpful in aiding restfulness.
Definitely food for thought next time you’re preparing a bedtime supper!