Guess what is rapidly becoming the new status symbol…. sleep!! Whilst we use to brag about not having enough of it, we are now starting to wake up to the vital importance it in terms of our physical & mental wellbeing. As such, we have seen a raft of gadgets and apps all designed with the purpose to aid a restful night’s slumber. There is also raft of ‘sleep clinics’ opening across London for a stressed out, sleep deprived clientele. Unfortunately, many of us have been burning the candle at both ends, de-prioritising sleep and we are all starting to feel the negative effects of this. Furthermore, due to the ‘always on’ nature of our lives, I am seeing an increasing number of clients who are finding it difficult to switch off and even get to sleep when they finally do hit the sack. However, panic not because the good news is that foods contain lots of potent, biologically active molecules that we can use to help aid a restful night sleep. So, if you would rather look to natural ways to improve sleep as opposed to downloading another app or shelling out to visit a clinic then read on for my 5 top plant based tips to promote better sleep:
Oats are super rich in magnesium, which is nature’s relaxant. We burn through it at a rate of notes when stressed and low levels are linked to sleep problems, as well as mood related issues such as anxiety, which may also affect sleep. It’s therefore really important to ensure you are consuming high levels on a daily basis (see below for another magnesium tip)
Buckwheat is one of my favourite sources of vegetarian protein. Despite the misleading name, it is totally gluten free, and like quinoa it’s a seed not a grain. It’s also packed with magnesium as well as disease-fighting flavonoids, a group of plant chemicals thought to have powerful antioxidant effects.
Beans, such as chickpeas, contain high levels of tryptophan, the building blocks of melatonin – a key hormone involved in the sleep process. As such, low levels are associated with sleep disturbances. Therefore, a bit of hummus and crudité is a great evening snack before bed.
Flaxseed oil contains both tryptophan and omega 3 fatty acids, key for hormonal health. As such, a tablespoon of this oil prior to bed can help to aid sleep, as well as improve mood. May sure you buy a good quality organic brand, in a dark bottle, and keep it stored in the fridge to prevent the oil going rancid.
Tofu is rich in isoflavones, a type of phytoestrogen which recent research suggests is positively associated with optimal sleep duration and quality of sleep. Therefore, combine with a miso broth filled with edamame (both are also soy based) for a dreamy night’s sleep. Alternatively, you can try making a tofu dessert, which is a delicious and healthy alternative to many sugar laden & processed options.
One final (non-food) related tip is to get involved in good old-fashioned Epsom salt baths 2 – 3 times a week. These salts are super rich in magnesium and there is evidence to suggest that transdermal absorption (via the skin) is more effective than taking an oral supplement. Plus, it’s also a great way to relax the mind as well and switch off after a busy day. Make sure you soak for a good 20mins to get maximum effect!