In this day and age with to-do lists as long as our arms, switching off and getting some shut eye isn’t always that easy. If you’re one of those people who spends the lonely hours of the night wide awake with thoughts crashing through your mind then you’re not alone; so many of us now are afflicted with poor sleep, making us feel less than human the following day.
We need a good night’s sleep in order to mend and repair our bodies and enhance our cognitive function; without it we feel tired, lethargic, hungry and in some cases anxious or depressed. Stimulants such as caffeine, cigarettes, sugar and alcohol give the body a boost but they can also be incredibly addictive, upsetting the body’s natural rhythms, which makes us crave them more; a vicious cycle.
Here are five simple dietary tips to help you get that much important shut eye, teamed with suggestions from our Squirrel menu to help you feel bright eyed and bushy tailed when you wake up in the morning!
1. Ditch the stimulants – ALL of them!
What we’re talking here is caffeine, alcohol, sugar and refined foods. That sounds like a lot but remember that all these ingredients are playing havoc with your hormones and sleep cycle. If you suffer from any kind of sleep issues you really should stay off the coffee or alternatively swap it out for a matcha latte that can lift your mood whilst giving you a gentle, less stimulating caffeine boost. However, if you’re really sensitive to coffee then camomile or valerian tea is your best bet. We serve Pukka’s Love tea at Squirrel as it contains a delicious blend of calming herbs including lavender, camomile and rose.
2. Eat foods rich in tryptophan.
Tryptophan is an amino acid and building block to produce the hormones serotonin and melatonin, important for regulating sleep. Making sure you‘re getting enough tryptophan in your diet will support production of these hormones so make sure you top up on foods such as: sesame seeds, fish, oats, poultry, lentils, eggs, bananas, cottage cheese and beans. Our Oh My Cobb and Prawn Star salads contain tryptophan packed foods so why not incorporate these into your order? Remember we also welcome substitutions at Squirrel so you can always add a spoonful of lentils to top up on your tryptophan levels a little more!
3. B Vitamins
All hormones require certain vitamins found in various food sources to ensure their smooth production. In the case of serotonin and melatonin, B vitamins are key (mainly vitamins B3 and B6), which can be found in foods such as poultry, salmon, mackerel, bananas, mushrooms, asparagus, dark green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables. These foods will supply both vitamins B3 and B6. All our Squirrel salads are a great source of dark green leafy veg as we feel they’re the best base for good health – now, isn’t that the nuts?!
4. Don’t go to bed hungry.
Not eating, eating too little or even a high refined carbohydrate meal can cause blood sugar levels to drop during the night triggering release of hormones that can stimulate the brain and wake us up. All our Treehouse Favourites are wholesome, balanced meals so you really can’t go wrong with anything on our menu!
5. Calcium and Magnesium
Eat more calcium and magnesium rich foods. These minerals are known as nature’s sedatives, helping to relax our bodies and mind. Sesame seeds, almonds and dark green leafy vegetables are great sources of both calcium and magnesium.
Try Ginger Spice, Kale Yeah or Broc Chick from our Treehouse Favourites – they’re a safe bet to up your levels of both these important minerals.