Why do some foods give you energy and other foods make you feel sleepy? We’re all guilty of reaching for a sugary snack in the late afternoon, or feeling like a nap after having a bit too much to eat. But which foods are important to avoid, or consume, in the afternoon and before bed to ensure we get a good night’s sleep?

Bananas and almonds: A great way to start the day, and a great snack. These nutrient rich fruits and nuts are packed with the minerals potassium and magnesium, which both promote muscle relaxation. Ever woken up to a night time muscle cramp? This could be a simple solution for you. Research has also shown that when magnesium levels are low the body also finds it harder to stay asleep.

Chamomile and lemon balm: These herbs have been used to help treat insomnia for thousands of years. The herbs have been used to reduced anxiety too. No need to count sheep, have a cup of herbal tea.

Walnuts: Tryptophan is a sleep enhancing amino acid that helps make serotonin and melatonin, and walnuts are a great source!

Lettuce: Have a nice leafy salad with your dinner to injest a natural sedative, lactucarium, and speed up your ability to fall asleep.

Sesame seeds, bok choy, tahini, kale, broccoli, spinach: Did somebody say calcium? Yep, eat these and you will help your brain process tryptophan and manufacture sleep-triggering melatonin as well as regulate your muscle movements.

Fish, garlic and pistachios: Especially – tuna, halibut and salmon – are all high in Vitamin B6! Your body needs these to make melatonin and serotonin for sleep.

Cherries: All types of cherries, especially if they are tart, are naturally high in the hormone melatonin. If you don’t feel like juice, eat a handful for dessert.

Here are some simple tips to get you started

  • Swap your afternoon coffee for water and a snack high in protein, like nuts and seeds, to sustain your level of concentration and minimise the effects of caffeine later in the evening
  • Avoid sugary foods (all day)
  • Aim to eat a rainbow! – that way you know you are eating a nutrient varied and dense diet
  • Don’t skip breakfast and eat regularly