Are you having trouble nodding off, Mama? We spoke to Sammy Margo about how food can impact your sleep during pregnancy and the Top 5 foods to help you catch those precious Zzz's.
A careful selection of foods that help you sleep during pregnancy just before bed can really help you drift off easier. You’ll be surprised at some of the foods that offer unique properties to act as natural sleep remedies! See our top five below.
Top 5 sleep inducing foods
- Banana. Did you know a banana is essentially a sleeping pill in a peel? They’re rich in magnesium and potassium that help muscles to relax, as well as tryptophan, an amino acid which the body uses to make serotonin levels (see below for more info on tryptophan!). These all help to release melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep-wake cycles, making a banana the perfect pre-bedtime snack!
- Walnuts. These tasty nuts are another excellent natural source of tryptophan and they also offer their own unique source of melatonin. Rich in Omega-3 essential fatty acids too, a handful of walnuts are another go-to snack to have whenever you’re in need of a little help falling asleep.
- Kale. Dark, leafy greens are a surprisingly good source of Calcium. Which means it’s great for helping your baby’s growth and development, while studies suggest that being calcium-deficient may make it difficult to fall asleep. Kale also contains plenty of antioxidants, iron and folates to keep your immune system and digestion on track.
- Rice. According to certain studies, white rice has a high glycemic index to really help reduce the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep. Jasmine rice in particular has been shown to bring on shut-eye even faster!
- Chamomile Tea. Okay – not a food, but it’s the perfect substitute for a warming, pre-bedtime drink to promote a sense of calm. Research has shown that a cup of Chamomile Tea is linked to an increase in Glycine, which acts as a mild sedative and relaxes nerves.
What is tryptophan and how does it help me sleep?
Tryptophan is an amino acid present in a range of foods. Your body transforms tryptophan into niacin – a B-vitamin that works to create serotonin (a neurotransmitter that regulates sleep and melatonin levels).
However, food contains loads of different amino acids that compete to reach the brain, with tryptophan struggling the most as it’s usually in such small traces. The solution? Carbs! Carbohydrates make your body release insulin, which in turn removes all amino acids from your blood – with the exception of tryptophan.
Carb-based snacks will react with tryptophan and give you a much bigger release of serotonin – making a banana the best option for when you’re really struggling!