MANY people have been struggling to sleep during the coronavirus pandemic due to increased levels of stress.
Around six in 10 Brits struggle to hit the hay successfully, according to a recent study from King’s College London.
It also found that 63 per cent of people say their sleep has gotten worse since March.
As well as this a recent report also suggested that a third of Brits have put weight on during lockdown, as gyms closed their doors due to the virus.
But could your diet be the key to a good night’s sleep, and are there foods that can help you nod off and lose weight?
Speaking to The Sun experts have revealed the seven foods that can help you drift off without piling on the pounds.
Foods that help calm and relax the body and don’t disturb the gut are great for people who are struggling to sleep, Karl Kristian founder and health and wellbeing expert at New Nordic told The Sun.
He said: “Nuts such as walnuts and almonds that are also a source of melatonin that is a hormone that helps regulate your sleep.”
Despite the fact that nuts are high in fat and in calories, various studies have shown that they are not linked to weight gain.
One study found that people who ate two or more portions of nuts a week were 31 per cent more likely to keep the weight off than those who consumed no nuts at all.
Most of us are used to tucking into a hot chocolate before bed or even a chilled glass of wine in the evening, but Karl says that the best way to get a good night’s sleep is to drink a herbal tea before bed.
He said: “Chamomile tea contains antioxidants that help relieve stress and anxiety by reducing inflammation and soothing your muscles which is why it is often recommended for those that struggle with insomnia.”
Karl added that green tea, ginger, coffee and yerba mate are all great beverages that can help with your metabolism and therefore can help you maintain a healthy weight.
“As well as this, apple cider vinegar has been used for centuries becoming popular as a supplement to help weight management and digestion.
“Science is now reinforcing these concepts with studies showing that it may play a role in helping to maintain a healthy blood sugar balance, as well as helping you feel full more quickly”, he added.
Nutritionist Susan Alexander, who works alongside Unbeelievable Health said a diet in magnesium rich foods can help if you’re struggling to sleep.
She said: “Magnesium has been shown to help you relax, so try eating rich sources of magnesium such as greens, dry beans, whole grains and low-fat dairy products.
“Tryptophan is an amino acid that’s believed to induce sleep, as it is a precursor to the sleep-inducing chemicals serotonin and melatonin.
“Tryptophan can be found in yoghurt, milk, oats, bananas, dates, poultry, eggs and peanuts.”
Foods such as greens help you stay fuller for longer and also contribute to your five-a-day.
Low fat dairy products can also help if you’re trying to lose weight as their calorie and fat count are lower than the “full fat” versions.
Nutritionist Donia Hilal added: “Foods rich in magnesium are another way to relax your muscles and mind before bed.
“You can find magnesium in leafy green vegetables such as spinach, nuts and avocado.”
We have heard many times that the Mediterranean diet is good for your health – but it could also help you sleep, according to Dr Michael Mosely, who devised the Fast800 diet plan.
He said: “A traditional Mediterranean diet is rich in oily fish, veg, legumes and olive oil and little in the way of sugary snacks.
“Eating this way will help improve both your mood and your weight, something we will all need to consider as we become increasing sedentary during self-isolation.”
He said that focusing on a diet included legumes will help you stop craving sugary snacks which is turn leads to poor sleep and high levels of sleep deprivation.
Dr Mosely added: “You should stop eating altogether at least three hours before bed.
“Experts think this helps us keep our body temperatures down. As we get to our bedtimes, our body temperature starts to drop which helps trigger sleep.
“When a late-night snack hits your stomach, your body starts breaking it down and absorbing it.
“This increases gut activity and your core temperature will stay high, so don’t bother with the pre-bed hot chocolate or glass of milk. These are common myths.”
Oily fish is a great source of vitamin D, protein, some B vitamins and selenium.
It’s also rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which come with a whole host of health benefits.
The main benefit of oily fish is that it’s been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and other cardiovascular diseases.
Speaking to The Sun Lisa Borg, nutritionist at PulseLight Clinic said you should aim to consume around three pieces of oily fish a day to help your weight loss efforts and said that keeping a balanced diet will also help you drift off easier each night.
“If one wakes up feeling really tired after a good night’s sleep it suggests hormonal imbalances may be present.
“Follow a diet to balance blood glucose levels and make sure you exercise for at least 30 minutes everyday.”
By opting for oily fishes you can reduce the sugar levels in meals as oily fish already has a lot of flavour so doesn’t usually require further seasonings which some times contain added sugars.
She added: “Sleep is essential in controlling appetite and food choices. The tired individual will crave sugary foods for a quick energy fix.
“Insufficient sleep results in a higher production of the hunger hormone Ghrelin and subsequently an excess intake of calories.
“Balance meals and snacks ensuring they provide a carbohydrate, a protein and a healthy fat. This helps to slow down the release of glucose and therefore reduces insulin release and keeps one satisfied for longer.”
If you have become dependent on a sweet treat in the evening opting for products with no added sugars are a good alternative.
Yogurts won’t upset the stomach and products such as Perfect World Ice Cream and Halo which are under 400 calories a tub are great if you want to have a treat without piling on the pounds.
Supermarkets such as Asda, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose also do their own low calorie ice creams.
Some of these products – many of which contain nuts, are also high in fibre which Lisa recommends.
Donia Hilal, nutritionist at personalised.co said while Turkey may not be at the top of everyone’s shopping list – it’s a great food for sleep and weight loss.
Speaking to The Sun she said: “It is rich in an amino acid called tryptophan which is used by the body to increase melatonin levels – our sleep hormone.
“You can incorporate turkey breast into your dinner to help naturally boost melatonin levels in the body.”
Turkey is also high in protein and is great to add to salads and pastas.
Emily Rollason, nutritionist for Holland & Barrett added: “Protein is what’s known as a macronutrient, meaning the body requires a lot of it to stay healthy. Protein is a not-so-secret weapon when it comes to weight loss.
“The main reason for this is protein is satiating – which means it makes you fuller for longer.
“For adults, the general daily requirement is 0.6g of protein per kilogram bodyweight.”
For people who aren’t big fans of turkey and for those who are vegetarian or vegan she suggested a protein shake with almond or other nut milk.
While Donia said there are no specific foods that will help with weight loss – the most important thing is to make sure that you are consuming less calories than you are burning throughout the day.
She did however say that cherries could be a great addition to your diet.
“Cherries are naturally rich in melatonin, the hormone which helps regulate your sleep.
“Try opting for overnight oats with cherries before bed to help you doze of naturally”, she added.
Emily added: “Cherry-tart cherries such as Montmorency Cherries have naturally high levels of a hormone that regulate the body’s circadian rhythm (the sleep/ wake cycle) and induces sleep – melatonin.
“Some studies have shown that those taking cherry juice had improved sleep and slept for longer that those not taking this.”