1) Dark chocolate: eat really dark chocolate after your supper because cocoa is very in high in the mineral magnesium, which is a very calming nutrient for the body and helps the ‘active’ side of your nervous system switch in to sleep mode. A couple of squares of 70% cocoa solids or higher is a healthy way to end your final meal of the day.
2) Herbal tea and honey: most people are aware that caffeine gives you an energy boost. If you are sensitive to caffeine, it is essential you stay off coffee and tea, even green tea after around 4pm to prevent it keeping you over-charged and awake in to the early hours. Instead, try health-inducing herbal teas containing fennel, nettle and mint or have some soothing chamomile tea with a little honey. This is a great way to calm the body as the carbohydrate in the honey helps to get tryptophan (a super-calming amino acid) from your blood supply in to your brain, which will help you switch off and nod off.
3) Timing: don’t eat late at night. You need at least three hours after eating before your body is going to be ready to switch in to sleep mode, longer if you’ve had a big, rich meal. Eating revs up the body so if you’re eating your main meal late in to the evening, you are charging up your nervous system at a time when it should be calming down and getting ready to switch in to sleep mode.
4) Vitamin C: it’s a really important vitamin for a healthy immune system and for cellular protection. Found in fruit and veg, especially citrus fruits and brightly coloured veggies, it is important to eat vitamin C rich foods every day. However, if you are a light sleeper, or if you find it hard to get off to sleep, stay off the vitamin C rich foods and certainly don’t take supplements containing vitamin C in the evening as this particular vitamin is very stimulating and could keep you from dropping off.
5) Pyridoxine or B6: this is a B vitamin that’s essential for making the feel-good, sleep-inducing brain chemical serotonin. Chickpeas are high in B6, so try adding them to soups or salads and, of course, hummus is packed full of chickpeas.
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