Struggling to sleep at night? It may be time to jump on the ethical trend that is sweeping the nation and embrace the vegan way of life. It’s safe to say that ‘Veganuary’ is in full swing, with many, including a number of celebrity advocates and social media health gurus, taking on the challenge.
Among veganism’s many health benefits, turning your back on a carnivorous lifestyle could also aid a good night’s sleep. Many vegan foods contain high levels of sleep-inducing chemicals, such as serotonin, tryptophan, and melatonin all of which have a positive impact on your quality of sleep.
Neil Robinson, Chief Sleep Officer at bed company Sealy UK, shares his top tips on which foods you could introduce into your diet to encourage a more restful night’s sleep.
Calcium is a natural sleep aid, which is why a deficiency in your diet may make it difficult to fall asleep. Calcium contains tryptophan, the amino acid that your body uses to create melatonin – a hormone that helps induce sleep.
Not gaining the mineral in dairy products needn’t be a worry as leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach are a perfect alternative for your daily calcium intake.
Bananas are useful when battling insomnia due to their naturally high levels of amino acid, tryptophan. In addition to the sedative effects that this produces, bananas also contain high levels of magnesium and potassium which work to relax the muscles, promoting a good night’s sleep.
If you find yourself reaching for a pre bedtime snack, grab a handful of almonds. Like bananas, almonds contain both tryptophan and muscle-relaxant, magnesium. Almonds also have a high protein content which will keep you feeling full all night.
Oats are great for keeping your heart healthy and also contain a wide array of vitamins and minerals that collectively work to encourage relaxation. As a natural source of melatonin – the hormone that regulates our sleeping and waking cycles – oats are guaranteed to help you drift off into a peaceful sleep. So why not try a bowl of soya milk porridge for supper?
Like oats, cherries are extremely high in melatonin. In addition to promoting weight loss and being a delicious snack, cherries contain antioxidants like anthocyanins, which work alongside melatonin to help maintain a deeper sleep for longer.
6) Peanuts or peanut butter
Peanuts and peanut butter are high in niacin, a form of vitamin B3 which aids the production of serotonin – the hormone responsible for our moods.
Rich in good fats, peanuts and peanut butter will keep you feeling fuller for longer, meaning you won’t wake up hungry in the night. Watch out for brands that contain palm oil as these are not suitable for a plant-based diet, and opt for Vegan-friendly brands such as ‘Whole Earth’ and ‘Meridian’.
7) Chamomile tea
Chamomile tea increases the levels of amino acid glycine in the body which causes our muscles to relax. Additionally, the anti-anxiety effects of glycine mean that chamomile tea is excellent for de-stressing. We’d recommend trying chamomile tea with a teaspoon of honey for that sweet kick.
Due to its high magnesium content, avocado could be exactly what you need to drift off into a deep sleep. Research shows that magnesium decreases levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone” that increases irritability and therefore the quality of sleep.