Tired from a long hard busy day at work and just want to catch some ZZZ? We all know the feeling of just wanting to hit the pillow and fade away to dreamland. But nope. That does not always happen but here are a few ways to make falling asleep faster a more regular occurrence. This won’t just make you healthier and happier it will prevent you from Obesity and other diseases.
Reach for tryptophan-rich foods: We’ve all heard of warm milk’s magical ability to send us off to dreamland. Do you know why it’s true? Dairy foods contain tryptophan, which is a sleep-promoting substance. Other tryptophan-containing foods include poultry, bananas, oats and red meat. So, grab a bowl of porridge in the evening, cuddle up and relax and you will not have to start counting the sheep tonight!
Indulge your craving for carbs: Carbohydrate-rich foods complement dairy foods by increasing the level of sleep-inducing tryptophan in the blood. A few perfect late-night snacks to get you snoozing might include a bowl of cereal and milk, yoghurt and crackers, or bread and cheese. But keep the snack small and preferable not too close to bedtime.
Caffeine: can be a huge cause of insomnia or disrupted sleep. It’s no surprise that an evening cup of coffee might disrupt your sleep. Even moderate caffeine can cause sleep disturbances. But don’t forget about less obvious caffeine sources, like chocolate, cola, tea and decaffeinated coffee as well as a variety of medications (pain killers, weight loss pills, cough and cold medicines e.g. paracetamol can contain up to 100-130mg of caffeine). For better sleep, cut down your caffeine consumption and avoid caffeine in the hours before going to bed. But don’t skip out on your medications – talk to your doctor first. If you still want that warming comforting hot drink before bed try chamomile to get set for a good night sleep or a cup of hot milk.
Skip the nightcap: Here’s the catch-22 with alcohol: it may help you fall asleep faster, but you may wake up in the night more frequently in a less deep sleep, a less restful sleep, and you may be more likely to have headaches, night sweats and nightmares. And honestly who wants that? If you’re consuming alcohol in the evening, balance each drink with a glass of water to dilute the alcohol’s effects and limit consumption to the recommended amounts.
Beware of a heavy meal: Lying down with a full tummy can make you uncomfortable, since the digestive system slows down when you sleep. Spicy cuisine, especially, can lead to heartburn making it harder to fall asleep due to the discomfort. Make sure you finish a heavy meal at least four hours before bedtime. Any other food you consume after that and before bed should be a small snack like the examples above.
Emma Brennan is a qualified Nutritionist and is a registered member of the Association for Nutrition (AFN). Emma attained her qualification in Human Nutrition from Ulster University, Coleraine. Emma has a passion for all things nutrition and health related and her mission is to educate the public about their health and wellbeing through her blogs, videos and nutrition tips online and through the Good4U Nutrition Service provided to schools, sports clubs and businesses.