According to a recent Guardian report, 51.3% of us in the UK struggle to sleep and this could be causing serious health problems. And women are three times more likely than men to suffer – as 75% of women report problems, compared with 25% of men.
The Great British Sleep Survey also discovered that a quarter of those with insomnia had suffered for more than 11 years. So, what can we do to help ourselves? Worry less? Have a nice, warm soak before bed? How about adjusting our diets?
Many claim that tart cherries are one of the best fruits you can eat to help insomnia. They’re among the richest food sources of melatonin. This hormone is produced by the pineal gland in the brain and is known to help induce sleep. Just a small dose of melatonin—about 0.3 milligrams — can help insomniacs get a better night’s sleep. So, with this in mind, one glass of tart-cherry juice or about one-eighth of a cup of dried tart cherries could help you get some much needed sleep. Try eating this an hour before bedtime.
Another fruit which helps your sleep is bananas. According to Vitatalalay, mineral deficiency can cause sleeping problems, and bananas are so packed with these essential minerals that the fruit will help comfort your stomach and replenish minerals you’ve lost.
Eating bananas help relax the muscles in your body – causing a neuroprotective effect. The magnesium in a banana also helps lower your brain temperature and regulate your hormones, as well as regulate blood pressure, and promote healthy digestion.
Deficiency in potassium, which banana is packed with, can lead to muscle fatigue, cramping, and heart irregularities. Eating a banana before bed can really help you relax and get to sleep. According to Fruitful Office, who deliver fresh office fruit to workplaces around the UK and Ireland, an average banana contains approximately 400 mg of potassium – which is more than the recommended daily intake of this important mineral. Potassium is good for you for many reasons – better blood pressure, for instance. A diet high in fruits can help cut systolic blood pressure by more than 10 points in people who suffer from high blood pressure. It can also lower cholesterol. Research suggests that if you drop your LDL score for bad cholesterol, the likelihood is your risk of heart disease will also go down. Your heartbeat can be more regulated with more potassium in your diet. Potassium enables your heart to beat rhythmically.
Aside from potassium, what’s also great about bananas is that they are easy to eat – no juice and no cutting required. Simply have a fresh bowl on your table and tuck in each night. You could even eat them at night in bed without much worry of mess!
There are plenty more fruits which could help your insomnia. Did you know that eating an apple can also be beneficial for sleep? Apples are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6 and potassium, which can all promote proper sleep. Vitamin C for instance can decrease blood pressure, helping you to relax. Potassium, as we have already discussed, helps to conduct electrical signals through the body, helping to maintain a regular heart which is vital for sleep. If your heart is beating fast, you won’t be able to relax or calm down enough to induce a deeper relaxed state for sleep. Vitamin B6 is known to reduce stress which is another major barrier when it comes to getting to sleep. Many people stress about work problems or family concerns and these thoughts plague night-time worries.
Another reason you might want to reach for an apple is that they also contain phlorizin, which is a blood sugar-regulating chemical, helping to control your blood glucose levels. Apples contain almost no fat so you shouldn’t feel full or bloated when you try to sleep after eating one.
As well as bananas, apples and cherries, other foods can help with sleep. Make sure you drink enough water throughout the day (not right before bed, though!) and also try tucking into healthy options like kale and lettuce.
Green vegetables, such as kale, also contain healthy doses of calcium. Research suggests that being calcium deficient may make it difficult to fall asleep. Fish is another good option to have for your dinner – especially salmon, halibut and tuna. These fish boast vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin. If you find staying asleep hard, try adding whole grains to your diet. Whole grains such as bulgur and barley are rich in magnesium and consuming too little magnesium may make it harder to stay asleep throughout the night.
By switching your diet you could see major improvements to your sleep quality.