Sleep deprivation is a problem the world over. In the U.S., for instance, it is estimated that one in three adults don’t get their recommended seven to nine hours and statistics are similar in the UK. There an inexorable link between food and sleep. Sleep deprivation is linked to greater craving and indulgence in sugary foods, while consumption of the latter can, in turn, affect the quality of your sleep. If you love to travel and would like to sleep well while you are trotting across the globe, make sure to adopt some of the healthiest habits found in the countries you are visiting. Check out these top foods for a great night’s sleep:
Spain and the Mediterranean Diet
Spain has been deemed the healthiest nation in the world, according to Bloomberg’s annual report, and this is largely owing to its penchant for the Mediterranean diet. The latter is easy to follow since it comprises lean protein sources, plenty of fruit and vegetables, healthy nuts, and life-giving Omega-3 essential fatty acids, found in foods like salmon, tuna, and walnuts. A 2016 study stressed the importance of selecting the right fats if you want to sleep well. The researchers noted that diets that are high in sugar and saturated fats hamper sleep quality. On the contrary, diets similar to the Mediterranean one – with a high protein quotient and low levels of saturated fats – helped participants fall asleep in just 17 minutes!
Belgium, a Haven of Chocolate
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Brands like Godiva have made patent the extent to which Belgium is dominating the world of top-level chocolate. The good news is that two new studies have found that dark chocolate actually reduces stress. Because stress can keep you tossing and turning at night, and therefore stop you from reaching the restorative ‘deep’ stage of sleep, snacking on foods that calm the stress response can boost the sensation of sleepiness. Of course, food isn’t everything. You should also ensure that your bedroom is dark and quiet and that your mattress is the right firmness for your sleeping position. As noted by BedTester.com, back or stomach sleepers require a firm bed to support the back, while side sleepers need a memory foam that will support all parts of their body equally.
Hungary the Home of Cottage Cheese
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If you have tried Hungarian körözött or Túró Rudi sweets, then you know that cottage cheese is a staple of savoury and sweet foods alike. If you are visiting a busy city like Budapest or heading for the peaceful climes of Lake Balaton, make sure to purchase locally made cottage cheese for bedtime snacking. New research undertaken at Florida State University showed that consuming 30 grams of protein half an hour before bed has a positive effect on muscle quality and metabolism, and best of all, it won’t interfere with your sleep. Rather, while you rest, your body will use the protein to build up muscle.
Going Bananas on the Canary Islands
If you visit the beautiful islands of Lanzarote, Tenerife, or La Palma in Spain, take note!
TAKEAWAY: The Canary Islands are world renowned exporters of bananas, known for their sweetness and nice, firm texture. Especially if you are an athlete, bananas are an ideal sleep-inducing food, since they contain tryptophan (a known sleep booster) and magnesium (which helps relax muscles). Bananas also contain a good quotient of Vitamin B6. Did you know that a lack of this vitamin is linked to insomnia and depression?
We have mentioned just a few foods that can help you enjoy a few hours with the Sandman. Although specific foods can help, approaching sleep from a multifaceted perspective is key. Adopting a healthy diet, exercising, and investing in a quiet, comfortable bedroom are key, as is fighting stress actively on a daily basis through practices such as yoga and meditation.