Vitamin Z – eat better, sleep better

“You look tired, you should get more sleep”. Well thank you concerned friend/ family/ stranger at till in supermarket. I am well sold on the extensive health benefits of a good nights rest: improved mood, immunity, memory, longevity, reduced inflammation, reduced weight gain. However there are two main barriers: my children & my life. Sometimes the stars align and my children actually sleep in their own beds, I’ve completed the bare minimum household chores, ticked off the daily ‘to do list’ and yet I lie awake, waiting and wishing for sleep to come.  

Luckily one thing always in our control is our diet. Our nutritional intake can directly affect how easy it is for us to fall alseep, and to help us stay asleep, waking up well rested. Try these diet tips to help improve your intake of sleep, or as its now being coined ‘Vitamin Z’:

  1. Avoid caffeine after 2pm. Caffeine from chocolate, tea and coffee can hang around in our bodies for several hours. Even decaf varieties still contain caffeine, so better to stick to herbal teas after 2pm.
  2. Nicotine is a stimulant too – just another reason to kick the habit.
  3. Alcohol is initially a sedative but can lead to a restless night causing you to wake in the early hours, and prevents you entering a deep sleep.Stop drinking alcohol 3 hours before you hit the sack.
  4. If you suffer from heartburn avoid acidic and spicy foods in the evenings.
  5. Eat Tryptophan containing foods. Tryptophan is an essential amino-acid that along with vitamin B6 makes serotonin which in turn regulates sleep and appetite. Tryptophan can be found in oats, meat, fish, soybeans, chickpeas and bananas.
  6. Don’t skip carbs. Carbohydrate makes Tryptophan more available to the brain so the best bed-time snack combines protein and carbohydrates. This is a big one for anyone watching their weight. Cutting down on carbs can aid weight loss, but eliminating them can lead to problems sleeping, which in turn reduces the body’s production of ghrelin leading to hunger.

Smoothies are great post dinner if you always crave something sweet but want to stay healthy. I love smoothies but find them unappealing when the weather’s not hot, which lets face it is most of the time in the UK!! Hot smoothies however hit the spot for a sleep inducing pre-bed hot drink and dessert in one.

Hot Banana Smoothie
Serves 1
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 200ml milk (your usual) heated for 1min in the microwave at full power
  2. 1 banana
  3. 1 medjool date
  4. 3 walnuts
  5. 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  6. 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients into blender and whizz up till smooth and creamy!
Notes
  1. If using a glass blender you will have to heat the drink up after blending to avoid an explosion!
Nom Nom Nerd http://www.nomnomnerd.com/
 Front of Pack Nutrition Labelling:
Nutrient per 100g %RI per 347g serving %RI
Energy kJ 496 5% 1722 20%
Energy kcal 118 5% 411 20%
Fat 5.0g 7% 17.5g 25% Med
Saturated Fat 1.1g 5% 3.7g 18% Low
Total Sugars 13g 14% 46g 50% High
Salt 0.1g 1% 0.2g 3% Low
Protein 3.3g __ 11.4g