As well as sleeping on a good bed in a well-ventilated, dark and quiet room, achieving a great night’s sleep can be affected by what you eat before bedtime.

According to The Sleep Council, certain foods are known to aid sleep – in exactly the same way that caffeine is known to help you stay awake.

Says Jessica Alexander of The Sleep Council: “The best [meal] is one that contains complex carbohydrates and protein and perhaps some calcium – which is why dairy products are one of the top sleep-inducing foods.

Dairy products
Eating dairy products such as yoghurt and milk can help to reduce stress (because they contain calcium), and stabilise the nerve fibres, including those in the brain.

Green leafy veg
Vegetables like cabbage and spinach are also rich in stress- reducing calcium. They are also a healthy alternative for those who are weight-conscious or dairy food intolerant.

Whole lot of sleep with wholegrain cereals
Wholegrain cereals that are low in sugar can help induce sleep because they contain complex, carbohydrate-rich foods that increase the availability to release tryptophan into the bloodstream. Tryptophan is the amino acid that the body uses to make sleep-inducing serotonin and melatonin, the relaxing neurotransmitters that slow down nerve traffic and stop the brain buzzing…just what the doctor ordered for those of us busy mums who find it hard to switch off from work.

Don’t go bananas
Magnesium and potassium help relax overstressed muscles, which in turn help sleep. Bananas are an excellent source of these nutrients. They also contain all-important tryptophan to stimulate production of those key brain calming hormones.

Almonds are a girl’s best friend
Bananas aren’t everyone’s favourite fruit, so another good alternative, and vegan friendly is the almond. Almonds contain magnesium, which promotes both sleep and muscle relaxation. They have the added benefit of supplying proteins which help the body maintain a stable blood sugar level while sleeping and switch the body from alert adrenaline cycle to rest-and-digest mode.

Something fishy
Fish contain vitamin B6 which encourages the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, usually triggered by darkness.

Chick peas
For vegans, chick peas also contain vitamin B6 and can be great for making you feel sleepy.

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