Could eating certain foods be the answer to fixing a bad night's sleep? We find out.

Sleeping well can be particularly tough over the summer months, thanks to hot, sticky nights and pesky mosquitoes. Not to mention that cheeky Spritz (or three) you downed at the end of a long day. But science has proven making some simple changes to your diet can help you achieve a good night's sleep.

Here are five of the best bites for a better night's sleep:

Complex Carbs

According to America's National Sleep Foundation, your body needs certain wholegrains to help boost serotonin levels, which is your "sleepy" brain chemical. Low levels of this chemical can contribute to insomnia.

Certain wholegrains help boost serotonin levels. Try pairing crackers with peanut butter for a better night's sleep. Photo / Getty
Certain wholegrains help boost serotonin levels. Try pairing crackers with peanut butter for a better night's sleep. Photo / Getty

Complex carbohydrates are rich in vitamin B6, which aids melatonin production, so try swapping white bread and pasta for wholewheat crackers, popcorn or porridge.

Nuts

Almonds and walnuts are both particularly high in melatonin, which naturally regulates our sleep cycles.

Not only are almonds good for your heart, they also contain tryptophan and magnesium, which can make you sleepy. The amino acid tryptophan is found in walnuts too, curbing nights spent tossing and turning.

Grab a small bowlful to munch on an hour before bedtime and wait for the relaxation to kick in.

Kiwifruit and tart cherries

We're lucky to have plentiful produce available in New Zealand and there's one particularly iconic fruit that can help us sleep. Kiwifruit is known for its high folate and potassium levels and is believed to be one of the best foods to eat before bedtime.

Tart cherry juice is well known for aiding sleep. Photo / Getty
Tart cherry juice is well known for aiding sleep. Photo / Getty

In 2013, researchers at Taiwan's Taipei Medical University ran a four-week study, examining the effects of kiwifruit on sleep. Twenty-four adults ate two kiwifruit one hour before going to bed each night and the results were conclusive. After eating kiwifruit, participants fell asleep more quickly, slept more soundly and increased the amount of time they slept for, according to Psychology Today.

Another sleepy-fruit option is tart cherries - which are different to the sweet cherries typically available in New Zealand supermarkets. Tart cherry juice and supplements are available in most pharmacies and health food stores.

Tart cherries contain high levels of melatonin and also are rich in antioxidants, anthocyanins and flavonols.

Cottage cheese and turkey

These are foods high in lean protein, which also contain tryptophan, making them helpful for increasing serotonin levels. Cottage cheese and turkey meat also contain significant amounts of casein, a protein known to sustain muscle growth and repair overnight.

Cottage cheese and turkey meat contain significant amounts of casein. Photo / Getty
Cottage cheese and turkey meat contain significant amounts of casein. Photo / Getty

Warm milk or chamomile tea

Chamomile tea is a popular drink recognised for its relaxing qualities. It boosts your immune system, reduces anxiety and contains apigenin, which is an antioxidant that helps link receptors in your brain to promote sleepiness.

A University of Michigan study found that 34 adults who consumed 270mg of chamomile extract twice daily for 28 days, fell asleep 15 minutes faster and experienced less night-time wakening, compared to those who took a placebo.

Drinking warm milk has a powerful psychological link with childhood bedtimes. Photo / Getty
Drinking warm milk has a powerful psychological link with childhood bedtimes. Photo / Getty

Meanwhile, drinking warm milk has a powerful psychological link with childhood bedtimes.

Just like hot tea, a warm cup of milk can give you a soothing sensation and work as part of a relaxing bedtime routine.

The best way to follow your "sleep diet" is by feasting on these foods and drinks at least two to three hours before bedtime.

As helpful as these additions will be, it's also important to consider what not to eat before bed. According to sleep researcher and neurology instructor Kelly Glazer Baron, from Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, the worst foods to eat before bedtime include alcohol, coffee, chocolate, fatty or spicy foods, steak and grapefruit.

source: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=12187193