Try these diet tips to help improve your sleep
Struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep can be due to a number of factors including stress, irregular sleep habits, hormonal imbalances and poor diet.
Making lifestyle changes like taking a warm bath or meditating before bedtime can help you unwind and improve sleep quality. Avoiding screens at least an hour before you plan to sleep can also help you to switch off and fall asleep more easily.
Increasing physical activity during the day by incorporating something like going for a walk or practising yoga can help you to relax while also ensuring you are tired out by bedtime.
Along with these lifestyle changes, there are a number of dietary changes that may have a positive impact on your sleep:
• Reduce your intake of stimulants like caffeine. It is best to do this gradually – start by replacing one of your caffeinated drinks a day with a decaffeinated option or a naturally caffeine-free drink like redbush, mint or camomile tea. It is best to avoid drinking caffeine during the second half of the day to reduce the effect it may have on your sleep.
• Try to eat your last meal of the day at least 2 to 3 hours before going to sleep – longer if possible. This can help to avoid any symptoms of indigestion which might make you uncomfortable and unable to fall asleep as a result. A good option is to try and eat a light dinner such as a salad, stir fry, sandwich or soup - and have your main meal earlier in the day.
• Our brains rely on the amino acid tryptophan to help boost sleep-inducing hormones. Tryptophan is found in protein foods like chicken, turkey, nuts and seeds.
• Combining these tryptophan-rich foods with complex carbohydrates like rice, wholegrain pasta or potatoes helps your body get the maximum benefits from this amino acid.
Try this healthy, light and tryptophan-boosting recipe for a quick dinner:
Chicken, vegetable and cashew nut stir fry (serves 4)
- 500g skinless chicken breast fillets, sliced into strips
- 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 spring onions, sliced
- 2 cups of vegetables of your choice – red and yellow pepper, mushroom, cabbage, broccoli, etc. thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons chicken stock
- 2-3 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 4 tablespoons roasted cashew nuts
- sea salt and black pepper
Heat the oil in a wok and add the chicken strips – fry on medium to high heat for 4-5 minutes, until browned. Remove the chicken from the wok and set aside.
Add the onion, and stir fry over high heat for a couple of minutes before adding the other vegetables and cooking for another couple of minutes. Add the chicken and stir fry all ingredients together for another few minutes. Add the stock and the soy sauce. Ensure the chicken is cooked through.
Stir in the spring onions and cashew nuts and season with sea salt and black pepper.
For a vegan or vegetarian version, use vegetable stock and leave out the chicken. Beans or puy lentils can be added for protein or use prawns or fish such as salmon if you like.
Disclaimer: The content of this page is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. References are available on request.