The 'sleep well' diet

The 'sleep well' diet
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There's nothing worse than your alarm going off when you feel like you've been staring at the ceiling all night. Tossing and turning is not only frustrating, but it can take a real toll on your health too - and even sabotage your weight loss. A recent study found that people having less than six hours' sleep per night were less likely to achieve their weight-loss goals than those getting seven or eight - and it's no wonder, when feeling tired often causes us to reach for the biscuit tin.

The relationship between food and sleep goes both ways. Not only will a good night's sleep improve your diet choices, but an improvement in what you eat can in turn help you to sleep soundly - win, win.

We’ve looked at some everyday foods and how they affect your sleep – which ones will have you tossing and turning and which ones will help you to drift off easily.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal may be a favourite for breakfast, but the grains in oatmeal and wholegrain bread trigger the production of insulin - this raises your blood sugar naturally and can make you feel sleepy. Oats are also rich in melatonin, which relaxes the body ready for a peaceful sleep, all of which makes it a great pre-bedtime snack.

Almonds

Almonds contain tryptophan and magnesium, which both help to reduce muscle and nerve functions naturally, while also steadying your heart rhythm. Eating just a handful will have you dozing off in no time.

Honey

Honey contains glucose, which tells your brain to shut off orexin – the chemical known to trigger alertness. A little will help you to relax, but be careful not to overdo it, one tablespoon for a good night's sleep is plenty. Perhaps try adding it to oatmeal?

Wholegrain Bread

There are many mixed messages about carbohydrates and health. Wholegrain carbs will give you an initial spike in glucose followed by an energy slump, so they can be useful fuel pre-exercise but not a brilliant solution for lunchtime, unless you want to nod off in the afternoon.

Cherries

Another great way to ensure a good night's sleep is to increase your melatonin intake. Cherries are a great natural source and when eaten regularly can help regulate your sleep cycle.

Foods to avoid are aged cheese and processed or smoked meats, all of which can interrupt your sleep. Plus coffee, tea and any caffeinated fizzy drinks. Sweet dreams!

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