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"Your body needs to be nourished and rested in order to get good sleep," explains Dr Nerina Ramlakhan, a sleep and energy expert from Capio Nightingale Hospital. "This includes taking regular rests throughout the day to ensure you don't go to bed wired - the body needs to be prepared for sleep both mentally and physically."
Changes to your daily routine, busy lifestyle, stress and psychological barriers can stand in the way of a good night's sleep, but by overcoming these you should see a difference in your ability to drop off.
There have been several studies into the relationship between how much you sleep and how much you weigh. One study followed the diet and sleep habits of more than 68,000 women over 16 years.1 Results showed those who slept five hours or less per night had a 15% higher risk of becoming obese compared to those who slept seven hours a night.
For the body to get a good night's sleep, it needs a balance of the naturally produced, sleep-inducing hormones, serotonin and melatonin.
"Adequate amounts of vitamin B6 and tryptophan are needed to boost these serotonin and melatonin levels," says Dr Ramlakhan. "These are found in chicken, cheese, tofu, tuna, eggs, nuts, seeds and milk."
Drinking a glass of milk before going to bed can help to promote sleep. Other sleep-inducing foods include oats and lettuce. There are also supplements available, such as valerian, which could improve your quality of sleep.
What to avoid to ensure a good night sleep
"Avoid skipping breakfast as this is vital to stabilising your blood sugar levels and helping you to produce the melatonin that will enable you to sleep later on," advises Dr Ramlakhan. "Make sure your breakfast includes a source of protein such as nut butter on your toast or ground almonds on your porridge. "Caffeine has a direct impact on reducing sleep quality because of its stimulant qualities. It can take up to ten hours to completely remove all of the caffeine from your body if you drink a cup of tea or coffee, so if you are having problems sleeping or are waking up feeling tired, minimise caffeine and increase your fluid intake by drinking more water, herbal teas and diluted fruit juices."
If you have been searching for the perfect recipe for a good night's sleep, try these five simple tips to help send you off to the land of nod.
Nothing beats a healthy, balanced diet to provide all the nutrients we need. But when this isn’t possible, supplements can help. This article isn’t intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying supplements or herbal medicines.