Oh sleep! So completely essential for our physical and emotional health, yet it seems that a lot of us simply don’t get enough of it.
There are days when I have to be dragged out of bed having pressed the snooze button for the umpteenth time, and only a bucket of caffeine will do! But generally I sleep well and find that 7 and a half hours is the perfect amount of time I need. Oddly enough, I feel groggy if I sleep any longer.
Do you find yourself tossing and turning for a long time before finally nodding off? Or full of energy or anxiety while trying to sleep?
There are certain steps you can take to prevent that, including laying off refined sugar and caffeine (especially after about 3pm) as both are stimulants known to cause anxiety and restlessness. That evening chocolate fix in front of the telly isn’t such a good idea!
Exercising too late in the evening can badly affect sleep too… just in case you’re tempted to go out for a run at 10pm! 😉 However, exercising earlier in the day stimulates melatonin production to help you fall asleep at bedtime, so a brisk walk, jog or visit to the gym definitely aids sleep.
It’s important to eat plenty of magnesium-rich foods, to help your body and mind switch off. Some of the best sources of this mineral include leafy green veggies, nuts, seeds and pulses.
But did you know that there are certain nutrients that are essential to restful sleep? Without them, you may struggle to nod off.
This recipe for Sleepytime Banoffee Split (have you noticed the random banoffee theme on the site recently!?) is super simple but really effective to aid sleep when eaten around an hour and a half to two hours before bed.
The key sleep hormone is melatonin, secreted by the pineal gland in the brain when night falls. As it gets dark outside, melatonin tells your body to prepare for sleep and you begin to feel sleepy. But for your body to synthesise melatonin, it requires an amino acid called tryptophan.
Along with tryptophan, the body needs a variety of co-factors in order to convert our ‘happy hormone’, serotonin, into our sleep hormone, melatonin. This process requires plentiful supplies of vitamin B12, B6 and folic acid.
This sleepytime banoffee split recipe is simply sliced banana spread with almond butter and sprinkled with desiccated coconut and a little cacao powder. The banana is a good source of tryptophan and vitamin B6, while the almond butter provides tryptophan. I take a B12 supplement daily, as I would advise anyone on a plant-based diet to do, and eating lots of greens each day provides your body with plenty of folic acid.
The cacao powder here provides magnesium, but as cacao powder is a stimulant, it’s best to only have a small amount!
As if you need another reason to avoid crash diets or restrictive eating plans, they can also badly affect your sleeping quality and patterns because low-calorie diets can lead to a deficiency in tryptophan. Poor sleep has been shown to trigger carb and sugar cravings. Low-carb and calorie-restrictive diets are well-known to trigger a carb binge as your body struggles in a starvation state.
That’s just another reason to say NO to diets! Feeling sleep-dprived as well and hungry is absolutely no fun for anybody, and as I explain here in my top tips, weight loss is so much more achievable and sustainable when done sensibly.
Let me know if you give this sleepy time banoffee split recipe a go and I love to see all your creations on social media! Simply tag #RosannaDavisonNutrition on Instagram or Twitter or come on over to my Facebook to say hello
- 1 large banana
- 2 tsp smooth almond butter
- 2 tbsp unsweetened desiccated coconut
- A sprinkle of grated vanilla and raw cacao or cocoa powder, to garnish
- Carefully split the banana lengthways with a sharp knife.
- Lay out on a plate and spread evenly with almond butter.
- Sprinkle with coconut and garnish with vanilla and raw cacao powder.
- This is best eaten soon after it's made, but any leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a day.