This the season of sleep deprivation. If you’re suffering from insomnia – self inflicted or not – Nutritionist Rick Hay brings you the best foods to help you sleep
It’s official, we don’t sleep enough. A staggering 38 per cent of Britons are not getting enough sleep with women aged 35-44 affected the worst, research revealed last week. The survey, conducted by Aviva, looked at the sleeping habits of 14 countries and found Brits were the worst sleepers. But, it’s not all bad news. If you suffer from insomnia, nutritional therapist Rick Hay brings you the best foods to help you sleep.
Here, in a piece for Healthista, the lecturer in weight management at the College of Naturopathic Medicine in London, explains what you should eat.
1. Green, Black And White Tea
L-theanine, dubbed ‘the relaxation amino acid’, is found in green tea, black tea, white and matcha green teas. Rick says there are particular amino acids which can nourish the nervous system and aid sleep. He says that some scientific research has shown that L-theanine, sometimes known as ‘the relaxation amino acid,’ can enhance sleep and reduce anxiety.
The health benefits of humble camomile tea have been shown to be wide-ranging, from anti-inflammatory properties to wound healing, anti-diabetes and even benefits to the common cold and cardiovascular health,’ says Hay. ‘It’s best known for its effect on sleep and that’s not without some great evidence, thanks to a flavonoid it contains called apigenin and that has anti-anxiety properties. It binds to receptors in the brain that increase levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter that can have a calming and sedative effect.
A small bowl of porridge with cinnamon before bed could make early morning waking easier, claims nutritionist Rick Hay. A small bowl of porridge with cinnamon before bed or even a little cinnamon in some chamomile tea could make early morning waking easier. Cinnamon nourishes the nervous system by calming the blood sugar levels. Indeed, repeated research has shown it can even help lower the blood sugar levels of type 2 diabetics.
This is important from an insomnia perspective because often if you find yourself waking up in the small hours, it could be down to blood sugar spikes that subsequently wake you up as your blood sugar drops.
A chemical ingredient called gingerol, in ginger, helps to soothe the stomach. Rick says this relaxes the body in general and claims that ginger is also good for the nervous system.
Liquorice is known by people that study botanical medicine as an adrenal gland tonic – which are responsible for the release of stress hormones. It may be a love/hate food, but liquorice has been used for years as a herbal medicine for depression and anxiety. It is thought to nourish the adrenal glands that are responsible for the release of stress hormones, therefore calming you down.
Passionfruit and passionflower contain a compound called harman that has a hypnotic and sedative effect. Another favourite is passion flower or passionfruit, this has had a lot of traditional use over time for calming the nervous system. Passionfruit and passionflower contain a compound called harman that has a hypnotic and sedative effect which has been shown to help insomnia and anxiety.
A South-American sub-tropical fruit, the lucuma balances out the blood sugar levels. This is important, Rick says, as spikes in blood sugar can cause people to wake up in the middle of the night.
Baobab is a rich source of vitamin C, potassium and B complex vitamins, Mr Hay claims. This is rich in B vitamins, important for the function of the nervous system. According to Rick, a lack of these vitamins can cause insomnia.
9. Lemon, Lime And Blood Orange
Lemon, lime and blood orange are rich in vitamin C. This isn’t just just an immune booster but also nourishes the adrenal glands. When you nourish your adrenal glands the system calms down which can help with the anxiety and stress that can cause insomnia. Studies have also shown that a lack of vitamin C could contribute to sleep loss.
This article originally appeared on and has been reproduced with the permission of Healthista.
11 foods to help you sleep better tonight