Whether it's a one-off occurrence before a big event or a nightly struggle, most of us suffer from insomnia at one time or another. Fortunately, there are foods that can help you sleep a little easier. To help you relax and catch some Zs, check out our top five foods to help you sleep
If you're struggling to get a good night's sleep, foods containing tryptophan should be your first port of call. Tryptophan, an amino acid, helps to raise serotonin and melatonin levels in the body, which help induce sleep. Turkey is a famously good source of tryptophan, but other sources include dairy products such as yoghurt and milk.
Dairy snacks are also a great source of calcium, which helps the brain use tryptophan to create melatonin. Research suggests a calcium deficiency can cause disturbed sleep patterns and a lack of deep sleep.
Though many of us associate oats with breakfast time, they are also the perfect evening snack. Oats are a good natural source of melatonin, which is often taken as a sleep aid because of its ability to help regulate the body's internal clock. They are also another good source of tryptophan, especially when combined with milk.
Oats are also rich in calcium and magnesium; minerals that promote quality sleep. For a warm, soothing snack before bed, eat a small bowl of porridge to help you drift off, combined with any of the following toppings to help double its effects.
If you suffer from muscle spasms or cramps during the night, it may be that you are deficient in the electrolytes magnesium and potassium, which help to relax muscles and keep them functioning properly. Bananas are excellent source of both minerals, making them a good bedtime snack, particularly after heavy exercise.
Bananas also contain tryptophan. Researchers from the University of New England in New South Wales have also found having a banana before bed can help sufferers of sleep apnoea by keeping their throats open and therefore reducing the risk of choking.
Although melatonin can help to regulate sleep, it may be unwise to rely on supplements for long-term use. Fortunately, cherries are a great natural source of melatonin as well as being excellent for overall health.
A research study published in The Journal of Sleep and Sleep Disorders Research has indicated that consuming tart cherries before bed helped participants sleep faster and easier, making fresh cherries or cherry juice a great natural sleep aid.
Flax seeds are great for increasing levels of serotonin because of their high levels of tryptophan and omega-3 fatty acids. The omega-3 fatty acids they contain have been proven to reduce anxiety, depression and stress, and have been shown to be effective against sleep apnoea.
Flax seeds are also a good source of magnesium, renowned for reducing stress. Magnesium has also been shown to help prevent restless leg syndrome and night terrors.
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