Do you have trouble sleeping? Try these top tips on what and when to eat so that you sleep soundly and wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed for the Spring….
1 Eat foods rich in phytoestrogens: foods such as flaxseed, hemp and chia seeds all promote a good night’s sleep;
2 Avoid going to bed on a full stomach: lying down when your tummy is full can lead to gastric reflux, resulting in heartburn and a bad taste in the mouth. Instead try to have your main meal 3 hours before going to bed.
3 Have a protein rich snack before bed: although a full stomach is a no-no just before sleep, a small snack can help prevent the ‘3am wake up’ which can be caused by a dip in blood sugar. Some cottage cheese with chopped pepper or hummus with carrots are great for a pre snooze snack.
4 Avoid refined processed foods: foods like pizza, ice cream, crisps and chocolate bars do not promote rest and relaxation, nor are they the sort of deposits we want to be making in the body when it’s getting ready to rejuvenate itself for the following day.
5 Avoid alcohol: yes alcohol can help you fall asleep, but it messes with the brain’s sleep mechanism, which can result in waking up in the middle of the night.
6 Avoid caffeine: even one cup of Joe in the morning can disrupt your sleep that night. Caffeine also affects women more than men, as it takes longer to be cleared from a woman’s body. It also affects the central nervous system, and irritates the bladder, making us more likely to wake up in the night to go to the loo. Switch to herbal teas, redbush and warm water where possible.
7 Supplements: (NB always check with your GP before taking new supplements, especially if you are on medication). A Vitamin D3 supplement can help with sleep, preferably taken in the morning. A magnesium supplement at night can also be beneficial, or an Epsom Salts bath with lavendar.
8 Maintain normal blood sugar and insulin levels: eating refined processed carbs and high GI foods such as alcohol, starchy and sugary foods such bagels, chips, fizzy drinks and white bread lead to glycemic stress, characterised by weight gain around the middle. Over time this leads to insulin resistance , sleep problems, increased risk of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. However a diet of mainly low GI, unrefined foods will help maintain normal blood sugar and insulin levels, which will not only help you sleep better, but will help keep you heart healthy. If you are a woman going through peri/menopause , avoiding refined carbohydrates can significantly reduce symptoms such as fatigue, sugar cravings, hot flashes and feeling ‘tired but wired’ as your hormones will also be in better balance. Fill your plate with colourful vegetables, including dark leafy greens, use Truvia instead of sugar in cooking, eat healthy fats full of Omega 3 such as pumpkin seeds, cold water fish and nuts. Go for clean protein sources such as chicken, turkey and fish, and combine with vegetables, pulses and quinoa.