Have you ever noticed how different foods can affect your mood? Perhaps you know that a lavish cheese board in the evening will cause crazy dreams. Some foods are calming – like a camomile tea, and some foods will give you a kick – like dark chocolate. When it comes to feeding yourself for sweet dreams, Motion Nutrition are the experts. So we turned to them to find out the best foods to eat to improve our sleep. Read on for their best tips!
Get your breakfast right
What does breakfast have to do with a good night sleep? A lot, as it turns out.
Indeed, the first thing we have in the morning will dictate our blood sugar fluctuations for the rest of the day and into the night. If we opt for something rich in simple sugars like white bread, fruit, cereal, a sugary smoothie or juice, then our blood glucose will peak.
This will trigger the release of insulin from our pancreas and then crash back down which is why we feel hungry again mid-morning and probably in need of something sweet or caffeinated in the afternoon.
This can also be one of the contributing factors to waking during the night. If your blood sugar levels are irregular, your body is still going on that roller coaster ride through the night – so your system will wake in need of energy to stay asleep.
Avoid caffeine when you’re tired
It may seem obvious to reduce caffeine if you want to improve your sleep. And yet, this is an underrated and often misunderstood issue. Caffeine can be hugely disruptive when it comes to our stress hormones – this is the reason it gives you a buzz. Caffeine makes you produce adrenaline.
Naturally, if we’ve had a poor night sleep, we gravitate towards a big mug of coffee to stay alert. This can quickly trigger a vicious cycle: the more you do it, the worse you’ll feel.
When seeking energy for the day ahead, opt instead for a protein-rich breakfast. Consider eggs and avocado or roasted veg with chickpeas. This will give your body some actual firepower that will last much longer than a caffeinated buzz and will have the added benefit of reducing blood sugar spikes (see point number 1 above).
Feed your brain for sleep hormones
Right – now that we know what to avoid, let’s focus on what to enjoy eating for better sleep.
Foods that help you produce melatonin
Melatonin is the hormone that regulates your sleep pattern. Levels of melatonin in your body should rise in the evening, making you feel nice and sleepy – but this doesn’t always happen. To help you’ll want to make sure you are feeding your brain with the building blocks to naturally produce plenty of its own melatonin. Tryptophan rich foods such as organic meats and fish, oats, dates, cacao, sesame seed and walnuts will all contribute to your melatonin production.
Foods rich in zinc and magnesium
The melatonin pathway will work best when there is plenty of available magnesium and zinc in your system. So, make sure you’re also including plenty of the following tasty things too: leafy greens, quinoa, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, live yoghurt, kefir and mushrooms.
In addition to these foods, certain herbs and adaptogens (foods that help you better manage stress) traditional to the Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines, can be immensely beneficial.
Our top picks are: Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, Brahmi and Montmorency Cherry (a natural source of melatonin).
It can be tricky to incorporate all of these things into your day-to-day diet. That’s why Motion Nutrition created Unplug – a night time nootropic supplement that combines all the mineral and adaptogenic herbs to help your body and mind wind down in the evening and produce plenty of melatonin.
If you think you could do with extra nutritional support to feed your brain for better sleep, try Unplug for 30 days. A survey of 60 first-time users showed an improvement in sleep quality of 32%, and a reduction in time it took for fall asleep by 52% after 4 weeks – and who wouldn’t want that? Get a free Power Up & Unplug sampler combo this March with the purchase of ANY Bodyclock sleep/wake-up light or try Unplug for 30 days.