Five new foodie friends to help you sleep soundly

April 16 2014

Catie GettCatie Gett, Founder of The Staple Store

If you are longing for a good night’s sleep and want to start your days feeling more refreshed and energetic, some simple dietary changes could be all you need. Scientific research and age-old traditions show us that certain nutrients and foods directly improve our ability to sleep well, whilst others can cause problems with sleep onset or maintenance.

Tryptophan is one of the key nutrients involved in regulating mood and our sleep cycles. It is metabolised by the body into the neurotransmitter, serotonin, which promotes relaxation, and then into melatonin, our natural sleep hormone. Considered an essential amino acid, tryptophan is a sub-unit of larger protein molecules and must be obtained through diet, as we are unable to synthesise it endogenously (by our own biological processes).

Top 5 Foods for Stress-Free Sleep:

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1. Milk and honey (or nut milk and maple syrup for my vegans)Drinking warm milk and honey to alleviate sleeplessness is more than just an old wives’ tale; it  boosts melatonin production in the brain to help you drift off to sleep. Having some honey before bed causes a mild spike in blood glucose and insulin levels, which drives tryptophan across the blood brain barrier so it can be converted to melatonin in the brain.

2. Nuts and seeds - Nuts and seeds such as almonds, cashews, pumpkin and sunflower seeds provide a range of nutrients including zinc, magnesium and essential fatty acids to assist with nervous system relaxation and melatonin production. Walnuts in particular are a good source of tryptophan and also contain small amounts of melatonin to help with reducing sleep onset latency.

3. Sour cherries – Cherries naturally contain melatonin and have been found to significantly increase total sleep time and sleep efficiency in adults. They are particularly beneficial for people who also suffer from inflammatory conditions and gout. The Staple Store sells dried sour cherries.

4. Oats - Traditionally used in herbal medicine as a nervine tonic, the oat plant has a wonderfully nourishing and calming effect on the body. A small serving of oats can make a great bedtime snack as they contain tryptophan and magnesium along with complex carbohydrates to help increase tryptophan availability and utilisation in the central nervous system.

5. Bananas – Rich in minerals such as potassium and magnesium for nervous system nourishment, bananas can make a great sleep aid. They also contain carbohydrates and small amounts of tryptophan to catalyse melatonin synthesis. From an energetic perspective, bananas are most suitable for people living in tropical climates where bananas are locally grown, as they can contribute to symptoms of ‘dampness’ such as fluid retention and congestion in individuals with weak digestive function or those living in colder climates.

Catie’s favourite supplements for stress-free sleep:

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Anxioton by Orthoplex is an amazing formulation combining evidence-based herbal and nutritional medicine with empirical traditional knowledge. Containing Zizyphus, Magnolia, Kava, Passionflower, Lemon Balm, Magnesium and Glycine it has the potent ability to reduce stress related bio-chemicals and increase the neurotransmitters that induce relaxation.  This supplement is only available through consultation with a qualified naturopath or herbalist.

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‘Support’ Superfood Powder by The Staple Store is our go-to for all of those that struggle with a busy mind that refuses to go to bed. It is a formulation that supports the regular functioning of the adrenal gland, reducing the production of stress related hormones.

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PPMP - PPMP is a supplement containing a blend of potassium and magnesium and is a wonderful support for exhausted bodies and minds. The minerals in PPMP work to relax muscle tension and alleviate cramping while calming the central nervous system to manage irritability and insomnia. This supplement can be used throughout the day to restore healthy energy levels.