According to a 2016 study from the Royal Service of Public Health, Britons are rubbish at getting enough sleep. Thanks to all manner of chicanery, stress and shenanigans, the average sleep time for those in the UK is just 6.8 hours per night, well below the recommended 7.7 hours people feel they need each night.
Lack of sleep in the UK is so bad, that the extra hour we miss all night could be responsible for Britons’ rising stress levels – of a RSPH survey of 2,000 people, more than half (54%) cited their poor sleep as a reason behind feelings of stress.
However, Britons can find some remedy to their sleeping ills with a few changes to their diet. According to researchers at Edinburgh and Cambridge Universities, eating foods high in magnesium can help people fall asleep fast and stay longer in the much desired restorative state of REM sleep. Magnesium is used by the body to help regulate circadian rhythms (your body clock), so you get sounder, more satisfying sleep.
So if eating foods high in magnesium can help with sleep, what else could we be eating?
According to research published in the Nutrition Journal, walnuts are a food high in L-tryptophan, an amino acid that helps produce serotonin. Serotonin is useful in the body as it helps towards the creation of melatonin, which regulates your sleep cycle and enhances sleep quality
As found in research published in the European Journal of Nutrition, cherries are also a food stuff high in melatonin. Best eaten an hour before bed, it is recommend people opt for tart cherries wherever possible if they are trying to get some kip. Failing eating a handful of them, drinking a glass of tart cherry juice twice a day for two weeks could increase your sleeping time by as much as 90 minutes.
High in potassium, magnesium and calcium (resources that help with the body’s circadian rhythm and muscle repair), bananas are a valuable foodstuff for those looking to improve their sleep. Bananas also contain vitamin B6, a vitamin that is important to the production of melatonin.
Omega 3 rich fish, like Salmon or Tuna
Omega 3 rich fish, such as salmon, cod, tuna, and halibut, are all high in l-tryptophan. As published in the Journal of Sleep Research, eating these fish can also support production of vitamin B6 in the body.
Turns out a glass of warm milk before bed can help you get some shut eye. Milk contains calcium along with l-tryptophan, which helps your body produce that much sought after melatonin.
Why drink your milk warm? According to nutritionists, a warm drink raises your body temperature, so when your body uses energy to cool itself, that process can help trigger sleepiness.
Pizza’s new best friend may be high in sugar, but did you know pineapple could be a useful sleeping aid too? According to a study published in the Journal of Pineal Research, the fruit can raise serum melatonin levels in your blood.
Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating two and a half cups of white rice, four hours before bed, could help you fall asleep faster. Apparently, easily digestible carbohydrates (high glycemic) like those found in jasmine and white rice can help increase the ratio of sleep-inducing tryptophan, relative to other amino acids in the blood, allowing more to get into the brain, and allowing you to get some sleep.
Don’t do it for every meal though. Brown rice is healthier for you, and two and a half cups of rice with a meal is big eating.
According to research from the American Chemical Society, a good glass of herbal tea can put you right to bed. Much like white rice, chamomile tea is high in glycemic properties. essentially making it a sedative in a mug.