The 4 Best Snacks to Help You Sleep
Food to improve sleep
There's a good reason many find it almost impossible to stay awake during the Queen's speech at Christmas. No, its not Her Majs lack of oratorical flair (though, admittedly, shes no Obama). It's what you just scoffed. Turkey is loaded with tryptophan, an amino acid which encourages your body to produce melatonin the sleep-inducing hormone. If you're finding it tricky to drop off at night, nutritionally calibrating your evening food intake is a surefire way to secure longer, better quality slumber.
What to eat
You canoptimise your bedroom to encourage quality restanddeploy the most efficient sleep-encouraging techniques but if you addle your hormone levels through eating the wrong grub youll sabotage your chances of perfect shuteye.
Foods rich in tryptophan include soybean, cottage cheese, chicken, watermelon seeds, almonds, milk and yoghurt. But to best spike melatonin release, you should gear an entire meal towards encouraging sleep, rather than just munching on a soporific snack. In order to cross the blood-brain barrier, tryptophan needs insulin, explains Emma Wells, founder ofSmart Nutrition. So all foods high in tryptophan should be eaten with some carbs to ensure delivery to the brain. A recent study published in theAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutritionfound eating a carb-based high-GI meal significantly shortened the amount of time it takes to fall asleep. Consuming it four hours before hitting the sack, the study also discovered, was most effective.
Short prep time: Green salad with sweet potato
Best for weight loss
Your body requires a variety of nutrients, as well as tryptophan, to optimise melatonin production. A big green salad with lots of different leaves, such as rocket, watercress and baby spinach, will supply B vitamins and magnesium, says Wells both of which speed tryptophans conversion into melatonin. Get that crucial trypto hit from lentils, beans and hummus, or a portion of fresh fish such as tuna or salmon. And meet your carb quota with a baked potato. Just scrub it clean, prick it with a fork and cook for around 30 minutes at approximately 190°C, says Wells. Sleepy salad: done.
Long prep time: Turkey and broccoli stir fry with brown rice
Best for post-workout
To get the most from this family-filler have your partner knock it up or cook enough to leave leftovers and eat within an hour of your evening workout to replenish glycogen stores and repair muscles, advises Wells. The turkey is bursting with tryptophan and the broccoli provides many of the co-factor nutrients needed to turn it into melatonin folic acid, B vitamins, calcium and magnesium.
450g turkey, sliced into thin strips
4 tsp vegetable oil, divided
6 tbsp slivered almonds
1 large onion, peeled, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
250ml low-sodium turkey broth, fat removed
450g fresh broccoli
250ml dry white wine or additional broth
225g fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp cornstarch
4 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
450g of rice, washed and drained
750ml of hot water
1.Bring a saucepan filled with 750ml of water to the boil. Once boiling, add the washed and drained brown rice. Bring back to the boil then turn down, place on the lid, and simmer for approx 45 minutes. Do not stir the rice. In the mean time, heat two teaspoons of oil and almonds in a pan, stir for two minutes, and set aside. Add the remaining oil and turkey, stir-fry until thoroughly cooked through and brown, and set aside.
2.Combine onion, garlic and half of the broth in a wok. Stir until the broth evaporates and the onions brown. Add the broccoli, wine (optional used for flavour as the alcohol evaporates away) and remaining broth. Stir over a medium heat for four minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until the broccoli is tender. Then mix the cornstarch and soy sauce, stir into the liquid to thicken it, add the turkey, and stir for three more minutes. Garnish with almonds and serve with the brown cooked rice.
Hitting the sack hungry is never going to be conducive to a good nights sleep. If youre peckish before bed, get a final hit of tryptophan and carbs by munching a banana with some soy milk, or have some cottage cheese on oat cakes. As a bonus, cottage cheese is full of casein the best type of protein for muscle-building through the night.
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