We all have our own beliefs about what’s best to eat or drink before bed, if anything at all, but now science has finally provided the answer. We’ve worked with Sophie Medlin, a dietician and lecturer at King’s College London, to identify the best foods and drinks to help you drift off quickly at night.
Incredibly, and to the delight of millions across the country, Sarah encourages people to consume chocolate before bed, as long as it’s in moderation!
She said: “A really important hormone which controls our sleep patterns is melatonin and the biggest influence on our melatonin levels appears to be our intake of a type of protein called tryptophan.
“Chocolate is a particularly good source of tryptophan, so a hot chocolate or a little bit of chocolate before bed is actually really good for sleep, so long as you don’t over-indulge.”
Other nutrients that help aid sleep include B vitamins, calcium and magnesium, also due to their role in the release of melatonin in the brain.
Sarah adds that it’s best to avoid going to bed on an empty stomach: “Being hungry affects sleep as our bodies try and keep us awake to find food. This can make dieting for weight loss doubly hard as poor sleep drives over eating.
“Following overly restricted diets or diets that put us at risk of nutrient deficiencies can really affect our sleep. For that reason, if you find yourself hungry before bed, a glass of semi-skimmed or skimmed milk; a small banana or a few nuts around an hour before sleep can be really helpful to improve your sleep and your will power the next day!”
With all of this in mind, Sarah and her colleague fellow nutritionist Frances Balding have created a perfect evening recipe for us, using some of the ingredients which are known to help induce sleep.
Salmon Poke Bowl recipe
Frances said: “This is the perfect dinner combining some of the yummiest and freshest ingredients, high in sleep-promoting vitamin B6, tryptophan, magnesium, calcium and melatonin.
“The brown rice is a complex carb which will release energy into the system slowly without peaking blood sugar before bed. The salmon is a fantastic source of healthy fats, like the avocado, and protein as well as omega 3s, tryptophan magnesium and vitamin B6. Magnesium is known to be a natural relaxant that deactivates adrenaline and can also be found in the miso dressing and edamame beans.”
Ingredients (serves 2):
- 2/3 cup brown rice
- 2 portions of salmon
- 1 mango
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 handful edamame beans
- 1/4 cucumber
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 slices of lemon
- 1tbs white miso paste
- 2 tbsp tahini
- 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp water
1. Preheat the oven to 200°c
2. Add the brown rice to boiling water and cook to instructions on the stove
3. On a large piece of aluminium foil add the tbsp of oil and lay the salmon pieces on top. This should prevent the skin from stick and ripping the foil. Lay the sliced lemon on top of the fillets
4. Fold the foil to create a parcel for the salmon so these can steam and keep in all the flavour and juice
5. Pop the salmon parcels on a tray and into the oven for 17-20 minutes, or until the salmon is cooked to your preference
6. While the salmon cooks, chop the cucumber into cubes and place in a bowl with the soy sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds. Leave to one side to marinate. If you have time, leave this for an hour or so as the longer it marinades the better it tastes!
7. Chop the avocado and mango into cubes.
8. To make the dressing add all ingredients into into a jar and mix in with the squeezed lemon juice. 2 tbsp water should be enough to thin out the dressing however you can add more or less depending on how thick you would like it
9. Once the rice is cooked, drain and separate into two bowls
10. Take the salmon from the oven and carefully open the parcels. Place the salmon fillets on top of the rice.
11. Then arrange the avocado, mango and cucumber cubes around the salmon and sprinkle over the edamame beans
12. Spoon over the dressing and enjoy!
Why not have a go at creating the recipe yourself and seeing if it helps you sleep? We’d love to see your attempts so share your photos on our social channels: