There are countless factors that affect the quality of our zzzs.
From stress to a snoring partner, sometimes sleep just isn’t as blissful as it could be.
But you could be making it a lot better for yourself by considering what you put in your body pre-PJ time.
As the Daily Mail UK reports, Sammy Margo, author of The Good Sleep Guide, has revealed the five foods we should always snack on before we hit the sheets – and the five things we never should.
Bananas could be all you need to send you into dreamland. Not only are they rich in magnesium (a muscle relaxant), they are filled with the sleep-promoting hormones serotonin and melatonin.
Just a teaspoon of honey helps the eyelids go down. Honey contains glucose, which gives a message to your brain to shut off orexin, the chemical that triggers alertness. Anyone with anxiety, an active imagination and a racing mind knows that, when it comes to sleep (or lack thereof), your brain can be your biggest enemy.
If you’re feeling particularly stressed out, you may want to reach for a handful of almonds before you go to bed. They contain tryptophan and magnesium, both of which help to naturally reduce muscle and nerve function while steadying your heart rhythm, according to Margo.
Oatmeal isn’t just the breakfast fuel of champs – you may want to incorporate it into your pre-bedtime routine. According to Margo, the grains in oatmeal trigger insulin production and raise your blood sugar naturally. Furthermore, they are also rich in melatonin.
There’s a reason why you just want to curl up and pass out after a holiday turkey feast. According to Margo, it’s packed with sleep-inducing tryptophan.
While these items will help your sleep cause, Margo identifies five things that definitely won’t.
Sure, a nightcap can help you feel a little sleepy. But, according to Margo, consuming more booze prevents you from getting into the deeper stages of sleep (like those times when you can actually sleep in, but physically can’t thanks to your “big night out” hours earlier) and can lead to grogginess the next day.
If you want a quality night’s sleep, you may want to stay away from the spicy food. Not only can it give you indigestion (which never helps in the sleep department), as the Daily Mail reports, it’s speculated that capsaicin – an active ingredient in chilli peppers – may negatively affect sleep thanks to changes changes in body temperature.
Greasy foods won’t help you out either – so stay away from the burgers and fries before bed. As your body digests grease-filled goodness, it causes your stomach to go into overdrive, producing acid in the stomach that can cause heartburn as it spills up into the esophagus. And there’s nothing particularly peaceful about that.
You may want to save the charcuterie board for lunch. There’s some bad news for the late-night cheese-cravers: hard cheeses and processed meats contain higher levels of the amino acid tyramine. The tyramine releases a chemical in the brain that makes us feel alert.
Finally – least surprising of all – caffeine is a major disrupter of a good night’s sleep. As the Daily Mail reports, caffeine has a half-life of five hours. Meaning, 25 per cent of it is still in your system 10 hours later (how I am only finding this out now is beyond me).
If you don’t think sleep matters, think again: A recent study even revealed that getting an hour less sleep doubles your odds for getting in a car crash.