Month: January 2023

Best and Worst Foods for Sleep

Best and Worst Foods for Sleep

Struggling to switch off at the end of the day? If you have tried every sleep remedy under the sun and still can’t seem to doze off, it may be because you’re eating the wrong foods before bed.

By making a simple switch to certain food and drinks, you can enjoy quality sleep without any fuss.

Top tips we recommend for eating before bed include: 

  • Avoid eating late at night, as your body will be converting food into energy.
  • Pay attention to portion control, as large portions can disrupt digestion.
  • Avoid stimulants, such as sugars or caffeine, as they will keep you up at night.
  • Eat something before your body starts to wind down. Going to bed on an empty stomach drops blood sugar levels and interferes with the body’s ability to sleep well.

Take a look at how you can improve your circadian rhythm with the best and worst foods for sleep.

Five worst foods for sleep

The old adage “you are what you eat” is a familiar one, but did you know that what you eat can also impact your quality of sleep?

To make sure you are eating the right things before bed, try to keep the following foods at bay.

1. Chocolate

High levels of caffeine in chocolate make it a poor choice for late-night snacking. During the latter stages of sleep, caffeine consumption can cause rapid eye movement (REM) to occur more frequently, which is why you’re more likely to feel groggy the morning after the night before.

Other foods and drinks containing caffeine, such as coffee, tea, and energy drinks should also be avoided four to six hours before sleep.

2. Cheese

While cheese is generally considered a comfort food, it is actually one of the worst foods to eat before bed.

Strong or aged cheese, as well as preserved meats such as bacon, ham and pepperoni, contains naturally high levels of the amino acid, tyramine, which make us feel alert. Tyramine causes the adrenal gland to release the ‘fight or flight’ hormone, which increases alertness for a number of hours.

3. Curry

Spicy food, such as curries, hot sauce and mustard, contain high levels of capsaicin. This chemical elevates body temperature by interfering with the body’s thermoregulation process, which, in turn, disrupts sleep. Add this to the high levels of energy required to digest the spices, and you can kiss goodbye to a deep sleep.

Spicy foods are just one of a number of foods which are known for having a negative effect on sleep. Other foods, especially those which are high in fat and carbohydrates, should be.

4. Ice cream

We all know that consuming too much sugar can have a negative impact on our health, but did you know it can also affect our sleep?

Sugary foods, such as ice-cream and sweets, send blood sugar levels spiking at first, which then crash whilst you are asleep. A crash in blood sugar alerts the adrenals that there is an emergency, which, in turn, increases cortisol levels, and wakes the body from slumber.

5. Crisps

Too much salt dehydrates the body and increases water retention, causing tiredness and fatigue.

A study at the European Society of Endocrinology found that salty foods, such as crisps and salted nuts, were some of the worst foods to eat before bed as they contributed to disrupted – or “superficial” – sleep.  Experts recommend staying away from salty foods at least two to three hours before bed if you need a good sleep.

Five best foods for sleep

While there are plenty of foods you should avoid before bed, there are many which can actually help you sleep.

Try these melatonin-promoting foods if you are in need of a good night’s sleep.

1. Cherries

Cherries are known for being one of the best foods for sleep as they naturally contain melatonin. Snacking on cherries or drinking cherry juice can help promote longer, deeper sleep.

2. Raw honey

 Honey stimulates melatonin and shuts off orexin in the body: the neuropeptide that makes us feel sharp and alert. A mug of hot water, lemon and honey is a great evening drink for soothing the body and inducing sleep.

3. Bananas

Bananas are a great food all-round, but if you usually eat a banana for breakfast, you might want to think about enjoying this exotic fruit before bed instead.

They are one of the best foods for sleep, due to their high levels of magnesium which relax the muscles and calm the body. Try sliced banana with a tablespoon of natural nut butter before bed if you seek a good night’s sleep.

4. Turkey

Not only is turkey is an excellent source of protein, it’s also great at encouraging sleepiness. This is because turkey is high in tryptophan: an essential amino acid that acts as a natural mood regulator.

Tryptophan also calms the body, balances hormones and fights anxiety, which all help with inducing sleep. Brown rice, fish and yoghurt also contain high levels of this calming amino acid, making these some of the best foods for sleep.

5. Almonds

Just like bananas, almonds are a food you need to eat for good sleep as they contain high amounts of muscle-relaxing magnesium.

Magnesium is great for regulating our blood sugar as we sleep, which means the body naturally switches from its adrenaline cycle to what is known as the “rest and digest” cycle.


By Olivia Matsell

Habits are, unsurprisingly, habitual. And we fall into routine of behaviours from the moment we wake up to when we go to bed. Be it how we take our cup of coffee to brushing our teeth before we go to bed. But how do we make sure these everyday tasks are meaningful? 

Building good habits in our life takes time and patience. But knowing where to begin and what to do can often be the most difficult part.  

Did you know that habits account for around 40% of our behaviours on any given day? That’s without us even knowing. 

And as the 2023 gets underway, people will likely be looking to make a kickstart their New Year’s resolutions.  

So, what is a habit? James Clear, author of New York Times bestseller Atomic Habits, explains “habits are the small decisions you make and actions you perform every day”.   

Adopting new, positive habits not only makes you feel good but may protect you from health problems and encourage you to live a healthier lifestyle, the NIH (National Institute of Health) tells us.  

And, according to Clear, we can fully integrate a new habit in your day-to-day life in an average of 66 days (around two months). 

Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to successfully adopt a healthy habit.  

1. Start small 

“There are a number of reasons why people find it difficult to stick to their resolutions, and many of these are founded in behavioural science,” says Dr Katie Tryon. 

“Many of us are overconfident, which means we overestimate our ability to achieve certain resolutions and do not anticipate challenges we may face along the way, so we eventually give up.” 

But by reframing how we take on resolutions can make the goals we set ourselves much more, not only manageable, but achievable. One way to overcome this is to start small and set ourselves “micro-resolutions”, says Dr Katie. 

By definition a micro, or ‘mini’, resolution is a behaviour that we commit to for four weeks. Not done in isolation, however, these can ladder up to a macro-resolution, such as eating healthier or exercising more.

She adds: “With micro-resolutions, it is far easier to estimate the effort required to achieve them and easier to plan for in our normal day-to-day life, so this overcomes any issues of overconfidence and poor planning.” 

Dr Katie acknowledges, though, that in order to achieve our goals, we must also overcome something known as hyperbolic discounting.  

This is when we choose smaller, more immediate rewards over those that come later and require more effort.  

If the end-goal achieved through making a change is far in the future (like health improvement), it is helpful to give yourself small things – like little rewards – to keep you motivated along the way, she adds.  

“Small and consistent short-term changes can result in habit formation, which is the key to long term behavioural change.” 

You can also make it easier to stick to your micro-resolution by being realistic about how you will fit your new challenge into your day, depending on your personality.

“For example, if you are not a morning person, it may be better to do physical activity later in the day otherwise you will always dread it.”

2. Remove what doesn’t support you 

To avoid getting into situations that can steer you towards bad habits, it can be worth removing the activities that can trigger this type of behaviour.  

For example, if you tend to hit snooze every morning, placing your alarm away from reach will trigger you to get out of bed in order to turn it off, this way you’re already out of bed and you can begin your day. 

Drinking a glass of water after you wake up can also help you rise on a morning as your body starts to activate itself.

3. Establish a routine 

Rebecca Patterson, Personal Growth and Acquisition Mentor at Forbes explains: “It’s an absolute fact that if you can learn to do something consistently, you will discover much greater strengths and opportunities within yourself than you could have ever imagined.” 

Having consistency with your new habits is a powerful tool to support changing your behaviour.  

Once you’ve defined your healthy habits consider what time of day to do them and commit to them. 

And, what a better time to kick off new habits than the New Year.  

Research shows that more people are likely to visit the gym around fresh-start dates, such as the beginning of the year. 

4. Set a checkpoint to review your progress 

Tracking your progress and celebrating the small wins are important. 

These help to keep you motivated.  

Journalling or using a habit-tracker app, such as Habitica, can support you in measuring your success. 

And, if you find yourself wandering off track, that’s ok, too.  

It would be nice to be able to skip the hard work and experience the benefits straight away, but by being patient and dealing with the unexpected can often be the most rewarding part of the journey. 

Keep reminding yourself why you’re investing time and effort into that habit. A good way to do this is by leaving post-it notes around your house, or on your bathroom mirror, so you can be reminded of your why you are committing to this habit.   

5. Have a partner in crime 

Finding a support network around you encourages, not only you to continue to form new habits, but motivates you to exceed them.  

For example, if you choose to increase the number of times you do physical activity a week having someone to do it with has been found to up the intensity of your workout by 200%, according to findings from Kansas State University

Having someone to support you with your new habit will help you to succeed

Alongside forming meaningful habits, having someone to talk to and seeking support can be incredibly beneficial for your mental health and improves your mood

Ready for more?

If you’re feeling ready to take on more than one habit (otherwise known as ‘habit stacking’), remember to follow this process above and keep it simple so that you avoid feeling overwhelmed, stressed and burnt out with too much on your plate.

A final word from Dr Katie: “Small and consistent short term changes can result in habit formation, which is the key to long term behaviour change.

“We are all creatures of habit, and once changes are embedded in our habits, we are far more likely to stick to them.

“Rome wasn’t built in a day. The best thing is to develop micro resolutions, that can really become habits going forwards, as then you will stick to it.”

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