The cumulative effect of sleep loss has been shown to shorten your life expectancy so it is vital to get the required amount of sleep each night. According to the NHS, most adults need between six and nine hours of sleep every night, although one in three fall short of this amount. If you are struggling to get enough shuteye each night, evidence suggests small dietary tweaks may help.
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The benefits of eating fish are innumerable but what may come as a surprise is that the list extends to improved sleep quality.
Oily fish have been shown to provide the most benefit and one in particular has yielded encouraging results.
In one study, men who ate 300 grams of Atlantic salmon three times a week for six months fell asleep about 10 minutes faster than men who ate chicken, beef or pork.
This effect was thought to be due to the vitamin D content of the salmon.
Those in the fish group had higher levels of vitamin D, which was linked to a significant improvement in sleep quality.
Salmon is a particularly rich source of vitamin D.
Nutritional data shows that a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of salmon contains 525–990 IU of vitamin D, which is more than 50 percent of your daily needs.
The sleep-inducing benefits can also be attributed to omega-3 fatty acids, a healthy fat that has been shown to promote sleep.
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When combined with vitamin D, research shows that oily fish have the potential to enhance sleep quality, as both have been found to increase the production of serotonin, a sleep-promoting brain chemical.
Other foods proven to aid sleep loss
According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), certain fruits that contain melatonin may help you fall asleep faster and wake up less often during the night.
“For instance, tart cherry juice and whole tart cherries contain a lot of melatonin, and bananas, pineapple, and oranges are also sources,” explains the NSF.
What else does the health body advise?
“If you have insomnia, eating two kiwis before bed can increase your sleep duration by an hour over the course of a month,” it says.
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Other ways to reset your body clock
Experts claim there’s a strong association in people’s minds between sleep and the bedroom.
According to the NHS, certain things weaken that association, such as TVs and other electronic gadgets, light, noise, and a bad mattress or bed.
To resolve this this issue, you should keep your bedroom just for sleep and sex (or masturbation), says the health site.
The health body explains: “Unlike most vigorous physical activity, sex makes us sleepy. This has evolved in humans over thousands of years.”
Another useful tip is to keep a sleep diary.
The NHS explains: “It may uncover lifestyle habits or daily activities that contribute to your sleeplessness.”
As the health site points out, if you see your GP or a sleep expert they will probably ask you to keep a sleep diary to help them diagnose your sleep problems.
“A sleep diary can also reveal underlying conditions that explain your insomnia, such as stress or medicine,” it adds.
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