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Sleep Council Recipe: Tips for a Good Sleep PDF Print E-mail

Thursday, 16 August 2012 17:25

Nod off with a ‘biryawni’ or hit snooze central with a banana! The right food can definitely help get you in the mood for sleep.

According to The Sleep Council, certain foods are known to aid sleep – in exactly the same way that caffeine is known to disrupt it. As well as sleeping on a good bed in a well ventilated, dark and quiet room, achieving a great night’s sleep can be affected by what you eat in the hours before bedtime.

Says Jessica Alexander of The Sleep Council: “Certain foods are known to calm the brain and help promote sleep so eating the right things before bedtime is definitely part of the recipe for a good night’s kip.

“While we don’t recommend eating a big meal just before bedtime as it can lead to discomfort and indigestion, some people find a bedtime snack a helpful aid to sleep.

“The best is one that contains complex carbohydrates and protein and perhaps some calcium – which is why dairy products are one of the top sleep-inducing foods.”

Choosing the right ingredients was certainly the thinking behind chef Gurpareet Bains’ so-called’ biryawni’. He claims his lamb masala recipe has an insomnia-fighting effect thanks to the inclusion of an oil with intoxicating effects and nutmeg which contains a psychoactive substance that aids sleep.

Other foods known to aid restful sleep include:

  • 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 – 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.
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