With many of us cramming in more festive parties than hot dinners at this time of the year, our usual sleeping patterns are likely to go out the window.
Late nights, alcohol and worrying about those Christmas presents we still haven’t bought yet are all factors which could disrupt our slumber.
In a recent study by Sealy UK, over 65 per cent of the 2,058 Brits surveyed admitted to waking up feeling tired on at least three days every week.
The foods we eat during the day can have an impact on us during the night, according to sleep expert Holly Housby. Pictured: stock image
The research found vegans fared worst of all when it comes to sleep quality, and wake up feeling tired an average of four days a week – with more than one in five admitting to feeling sleepy every morning.
But how much of a role does our diet have on our sleep – and can eating certain things help us to sleep better than others?
Here Holly Housby, sleep expert at Sealy UK, tells FEMAIL which foods can help us to get more shut eye and achieve a better night’s kip.
It’s a myth that cheese gives us nightmares – in fact, it’s a source of tryptophan, which plays a vital role in the production of serotonin and in turn melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone
Yes, it is a myth that cheese gives you nightmares! Cheese, and especially mozzarella, is actually a source of tryptophan, which plays a vital role in the production of serotonin and in turn melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone.
It’s also worth noting that carbohydrates have been shown to make tryptophan more available to the brain, so your late night cheese toastie might actually be beneficial for sleep.
Oats can help to improve the quality of your sleep due to them containing vitamins and minerals to support relaxation. Pictured: stock image
Oats are great for keeping your heart healthy and also contain a wide array of vitamins and minerals that collectively work to support relaxation.
As a natural source of melatonin – the hormone that regulates our sleeping and waking cycles – oats can help to improve the quality of your slumber.
Salmon, especially the wild variety, is a source of nutrients which encourage the sleep-regulating hormone serotonin. Pictured: stock image
Salmon is a wonderful source of omega 3 and a good source of magnesium, Vitamin B6 and tryptophan, all of which encourage the sleep-regulating hormone serotonin.
It’s also worth noting when buying salmon that the wild variety can often be better due to the higher levels of healthy fats and vitamin D.
A glass of milk before bed may have been our usual routine when we were young – and there’s a good reason. Pictured: stock image
Milk is another good source of melatonin and tryptophan. This is because cows are milked at night, when their melatonin is naturally higher.
Drinking milk may help with sleeping better, meaning there is definitely nothing wrong with having a glass of milk (and a cookie) before bed.
Tofu is rich in protein and can contain calcium, both of which are sleep-promoting compounds. Pictured: stock image
As soy products are good sources of tryptophan, tofu is a great plant-based option that everyone can incorporate into their meals.
Not only does tofu contain tryptophan, which can improve sleep, it’s also rich in protein and can contain calcium, both of which are sleep-promoting compounds.
Eggs are high in vitamin D and contain tryptophan, both of which are renowned for their sleep-inducing properties. Pictured: stock image
Eggs are a nutritional powerhouse. The yolks are high in vitamin D which can contribute towards better quality sleep, while they also contain tryptophan, which boosts the production of serotonin, helping to regulate the body sleep cycle.
Eggs are inexpensive and quick and easy to incorporate into your diet, with their positive impact on your slumber a bonus.
Cherries contain antioxidants like anthocyanins, which work alongside melatonin to help you maintain a deeper sleep for longer. Pictured: stock image
Like oats, cherries are extremely high in melatonin.
In addition to promoting weight loss, cherries also contain antioxidants like anthocyanins, which work alongside melatonin to help you maintain a deeper sleep for longer.
Avocados contain magnesium which decreases your levels of cortisol – the ‘stress hormone’ – helping to calm your nervous system in preparation for sleep. Pictured: stock image
Due to their high magnesium content, avocados could be exactly what you need to drift off to sleep.
Research shows that magnesium decreases your levels of cortisol – the ‘stress hormone’ – helping to calm your nervous system in preparation for sleep.
Discussing the findings of the Sealy UK survey, nutritionist Dr Tom Hill said: ‘Whilst the evidence for a role of nutrition in sleep is limited, it is well recognised that being very overweight may reduce sleep quality.
Diets that lead to a good night’s sleep – from best to worst
5. Balanced (meat and veg)
‘Therefore, maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet may be beneficial to maintaining healthy sleep in the long run.’
Explaining why vegans and vegetarians may be suffering from poor sleep, Dr Hill continued: ‘Dietary factors such as omega-3 fats found predominantly in oily fish are believed to be related to melatonin.
‘And there is some, albeit limited, scientific evidence in children showing a positive link between omega-3 intake and sleep duration.’
In addition, Dr Hill advised: ‘It would also be prudent to ensure an adequate intake of minerals and vitamins, especially those involved in energy metabolism, such as the B vitamins, every day in order to reduce tiredness and fatigue.’
Holly added: ‘Many of us are desperate to achieve a better night’s sleep, but seemingly, lots of us are unaware of how the foods we eat during the day can have an impact on us during the night.
‘However, it’s not just about your diet. Those looking to improve their sleep should look to do everything possible to create an environment which makes top-quality sleep more likely.
‘This could include investing in a comfortable and supportive bed, avoiding alcohol in the hours before bed, or implementing a regular pre-sleep routine.’
For more information on how you can eat better to sleep better, visit www.sealy.co.uk/deeper-sleep/recipes-for-sleep/