Eating for Sleep

What you eat and drink will have a major impact on the quality of your sleep. Sleeping is the time when your body sets about serious repair and maintenance work. Quite simply, if you don’t get enough sleep this repair work won’t happen, which is a health disaster.

For a good night’s sleep try the tips below:

  • Have a glass of warm milk before bed – milk contains one of the eight essential amino acids, tryptophan, which helps relax you and induce sleep because it helps to control the sleep cycle.
  • Turkey, tuna, figs, bananas, avocados, walnuts or yoghurt also contain tryptophan.
  • Lettuce contains tryptophan and lactones, which are a natural sedative.
  • Carbohydrate–rich foods (like potatoes, brown pasta and brown bread) stimulate the body to produce the sleep-inducing serotonin hormones and help our brains to refuel overnight.
  • Calcium and magnesium have a naturally tranquillizing effect; they’re found in seeds, nuts and green leafy vegetables.
  • Chamomile or valerian tea are great relaxers.
  • Melatonin, another sleep-regulating hormone, is also found in bananas, tomatoes, sweetcorn and rice.
  • Don’t eat too late at night. Try to allow at least two hours before you go to bed. If you really do need a late night snack, a bowl of cornflakes with milk raises serotonin levels.


  • Caffeine which is found in coffee, tea and chocolate, so a late-night cocoa isn’t the best way to get off to sleep.
  • Sugar gives a rush of energy which is the last thing you need before trying to get to sleep.
  • Alcohol may make you drowsy at first and help you to drop off to sleep. But, a few hours later, it produces a burst of norepinephrine, a hormone that can jolt you awake in the small hours.
  • Curries contain too many stimulants such as garlic and ginger.
  • Cheese, ham and bacon all contain tyramine which increases our adrenaline levels, so pizza is out as a late-night snack too. Tyramine is found in raspberries, soy sauce and chocolate as well.
Extra help may be in the form of L-Theanine, this is an amino acid that helps calm the brain, making it more likely to stay asleep says nutritional expert Paul Chamberlain. 
L-Theanine is available at the Orchard Clinic and costs £15.65 for 60 tablets.
If you have a medical condition consult your doctor before taking supplements.
(Extracted from 10 Years Younger nutrition bible by Nicky Hambleton-Jones)
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