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Foods to help you sleep

Eating late at night, or too close to bedtime will not only give you indigestion and possibly make you put on weight, it’s not going to help you sleep very well either. 

Here’s some great advice from our Sleep Expert, Dave Gibson, on the types of food that will help you sleep better. And we have a hearty dish to share, just perfect for these cold and wintry evenings, thanks to the lovely folk at Planet Organic, the UK’s leading organic supermarket, and their new recipe book… yum! 

Dave says If you want to have a good night then I would always advise eating your last meal around 4 hours before bedtime to allow for proper digestion". 

In terms of getting the perfect night's sleep a varied food diet is best. There are some key nutrients that can help you sleep better.

Tryptophan - Tryptophan is an amino acid that is first converted to Seretonin in the brain and then to melatonin our sleep hormone. Coriander, milk and dairy, chicken and turkey, nuts and seeds (especially sunflower and sesame), cherries, egg white, cod and chickpeas are all good sources of Tryptophan.

Magnesium - Magnesium plays an important role in muscle relaxation, and the deactivation of adrenaline, and is therefore a key component for our diet with regards to stress and sleep. Foods that have a high level of Magnesium include nuts and seeds (especially walnuts), fish, beans, whole grains, dark green leafy vegetables, avocado, yoghurt, dried fruit and bananas.

Fiber - Recent research has shown that a high fibre diet leads to better levels of REM sleep than a high fat / high sugar diet. Roughage and high fibre foods such as broccoli, raspberries, and beans are therefore going to be best here.

This dish from Planet Organic’s new recipe book is not only a hearty and warming meal, it contains all the right ingredients to put you on the right path for a good night’s sleep.

Winter Quinoa Stew

A hearty warming winter stew using seasonal ingredients – perfect for supper and take the leftovers to work the next day, the flavours improve with time.

INGREDIENTS

•2 carrots & 2 parsnips, peeled & cut into 2cm chunks

•1 large onion, peeled and cut into large chunks

•1 large cinnamon stick, broken into 2 pieces

•4 star anise

•3 bay leaves

•5 tbsp olive oil

•1 ½ tsp salt

•½ tsp ground ginger

•½ tsp turmeric

•½ tsp paprika

•½ tsp chilli flakes

•300g sweet potato, peeled and cut into 2 cm chunks

•100g dried apricots, roughly chopped

•200 g chickpeas (cooked)

•350ml water or chickpea liquor

•170g quinoa

•350ml vegetable stock or chickpea liquor

METHOD

1. Preheat the oven to 190C. Put carrots, parsnips & onion into a big oven dish. Add cinnamon, star anise, bay leaves, 4 tbsp oil, half a tsp of salt, all the spices and mix.

2. Roast for 15 mins, then add sweet potato, stir and roast for 35 mins more, by which time the veg should have softened but retained its bite.

3. Add the apricots, chickpeas and stock/ liquor, return to oven for 10 mins.

4. Around 15 mins before the vegetables are ready, prepare the quinoa. Use 1 part quinoa to 2 parts boiling water, simmer in a covered pan on the hob until all the water is absorbed (about 10 mins), rest for 5 mins with the lid on the pan.

5. Adjust seasoning in the stew, spoon on top of the quinoa & serve.

Look out for our step-by-step sleep guide that has some great tips and advice to help you eat and drink right for sleep. You can read Step 4 of the Art of Falling Asleep, for free on Thursday 8th December!

And what’s more, for The Art of Falling Asleep campaign, we have teamed up with Planet Organic to give you the chance to WIN one of three luxury sleepy hampers worth £125 each, here!

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