Can’t sleep? Why eating certain foods at bedtime might help you fall asleep

We know sleep is important. It is essential for our health, our well-being to keep our brain and our body in good working order. But falling asleep in the time of Covid-19 has not been so easy. Over the past two years, our daily routines have changed beyond recognition. We had to deal with constant negative news feeds, uncertainty about work, and concern for our health and that of our family and friends. All of this has had an impact on our sleep patterns.

According to the HSE website, adults need seven to nine hours of sleep each night, while children and teenagers need much more. This time is necessary for the body to recharge. Without the right amount of sleep, we may have trouble concentrating or remembering things and have trouble getting through the day. Lack of sleep has been linked to cardiovascular disease, obesity and hormonal regulation.

Deirdre Hynds was diagnosed as a chronic insomniac as a teenager and has struggled with sleep for the past 20 years. She had a personal revelation five years ago, eventually discovering that what worked best for her was deepening her yoga and meditation practice, while adjusting her diet to focus on specific foods.

Inspired by her success, she worked with food scientist Sean Gilbride to create Unwind, a range of evening snack bars launched last year. “I’m a nocturnal person and I tend to snack a little in the evening. But I haven’t found anything that fits my lifestyle,” says Hynds, who has a professional background in public relations and marketing.

Deirdre Hynds, founder of Unwind.

Above all, she didn’t want anything too sweet – sugar is one of those foods, along with caffeine and alcohol, that can negatively affect sleep. Discovering that there was nothing available in this space, Hynds decided to take matters into his own hands. As of 2017, her first stop was her local health food store. “I made a list of what I wanted in the snack – and what I didn’t – and tried many iterations at home on the kitchen table.”

When Hynes had something she was happy with, she enlisted the help of food scientist and new product development consultant Sean Gilbride to turn the idea into a commercial possibility.

Relax health bars
Relax health bars

Gilbride, who noticed a growing interest in the link between sleep and food, worked with Hynds to create a bar that would use natural ingredients, help people sleep, and not fall under claims legislation. health. He points out that with an aging population, sleep becomes more of a concern as melatonin production declines with age, people’s quality of sleep is affected.

With the impact of Covid on sleep patterns, he says this “has come together to generate more interest and research for holistic ways to manage mental health and wellbeing”.

The idea of ​​a holistic approach was a big part of how Gilbride worked with Hynds to create Unwind Snacks. “We wanted to use natural sources, rather than artificial additives, to deliver micronutrients naturally,” says Gilbride. “People want something a little more artisanal.”

The bars are made with ingredients like oats, seeds, nuts, Montmorency cherry and chamomile. “Oats are the most important ingredient,” says Hynes. “They are inherently comforting and great for tryptophan.”

An essential amino acid, tryptophan, is involved in the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep cycles. “Also, pumpkin seed paste and almonds – anything high in magnesium is great. Many of us are deficient in magnesium, which is important for the regulation of neurotransmitters. Montmorency cherry is a more recent discovery , a tart cherry available in concentrated form that has naturally high levels of melatonin.

With three flavors launched so far – orange with dark chocolate, malted milk and roasted nuts – the Irish-made bars are stocked in over 150 stores across Ireland and Hynds has plans to export and develop new ones. products.

She’s also put together a collection of “relaxation hacks” on her website, with free access to relaxing yoga videos, guided meditation and bedtime stories for adults. “You don’t have to buy a bar to access the content,” says Hynds, “I want it to be accessible to everyone.”

Sleep has now become one of the main pillars of health and well-being and, for Hynds, taking a proactive and holistic attitude towards sleep is important: “I wanted to create something that was a strength positive in a very negative space.”

Four Sleep-Friendly Foods

Turkey: Not only the cause of naps after Christmas lunch, turkey contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid involved in the production of melatonin. But you don’t have to opt for the whole roast bird to enjoy it every day: turn turkey into a chili, use it in Italian meatballs instead of beef, shred poached drumsticks into a mole Mexican or cook it in a stir-fry instead of pork. .

Milk: Produced in Kanturk, Co Cork, on the Burns family farm, lullaby milk is naturally rich in melatonin. According to the research of Finnish professor Maija Valtonen, the high levels of melatonin are due to a simple fact: cows are milked before dawn. It is available to order from SuperValu and Centra throughout Ireland. Even if you can’t get your hands on this specific brand, regular milk also contains melatonin and there’s a lot to be said for wrapping your hands around a cup of warm milk before bed. Sprinkle with a pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon for extra comfort.

Oats: Although we are more used to porridge for breakfast, oats can also help you take a nap. Pair the powerful combination of complex carbohydrates, melatonin and B vitamins in oats with milk for a bowl of nighttime comfort and hopefully a better night’s sleep.

Nuts: Rich in vegetable proteins and unsaturated fatty acids, nuts also contain a wide range of vitamins, minerals and bioactive compounds like melatonin. In general, raw nuts contain significantly higher amounts of melatonin than those that have been processed – roasted peanuts being the exception. Walnuts, almonds, cashews, and Brazil nuts are also good sources of magnesium, another mineral that can improve sleep quality.

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