Here’s a sleep smoothie to try as a sleep aid. My eight year old daughter has always struggled to fall asleep, taking a good couple of hours every night to finally drop off. I’ve done a lot of research into the building blocks needed to control moods and sleep (yes, they are related!). The great news is there are a multitude of nutrients to both make you drowsy and build long term health and stamina, thus supporting healthy sleep patterns. So you can play around to find your best combination, or better yet use several for maximum nutritional benefit.
I’ll be posting more recipes, more extensive research and ideas related to combating sleep problems on this blog, so do check in regularly. As well as nutrition, I also look at different plants and aromas to help relaxation and falling asleep. For example, the effects of having lavender and jasmine plants in her room.
Several hormones play a key role in moods and sleep. As well as relating to sleep, food and the hormones they relate to also impact stress levels and can even manifest in self harm among, particularly, teenage girls. So it’s well worth looking carefully at what your child eats, to set good habits and make adjustments early on (whilst you still have some knowledge of to what they eat!).
Food for Sleep
Four hormones to consider here are serotonin, dopamine, gaba and acetylcholine. This is because they affect stress, positive attitudes and energy, the ability to relax, and cognitive functions such as learning. To allow these hormones to perform at their best, make sure you feed your body the nutrients they need.
Each hormone has individual needs, but vitamin D and Magnesium are particularly important for sleep. Good sources of Vitamin D are sunshine, egg yolks, beef liver and cod liver oil (from supplements and/or oily fish). Eating lots of leafy greens and almonds will give you a great boost of Magnesium. Focus on whole foods, avoiding processed foods as much as possible.
Other important vitamins, minerals and amino acids for moods and sleep are:
- Calcium (dairy)
- B6 (lentils, nuts, fish, liver)
- B12 (mostly animal products and fortified cereals)
- Folic acid (leafy greens)
- Iron (molasses, leafy greens, dried fruit, red meat)
- Zinc (pumpkin & sesame seeds, beef, lentils, garbanzo beans, cashews, quinoa)
- Vitamin C (kiwi, oranges, strawberries, kale, broccoli)
- Omega 3 (flax, hemp, walnuts, oily fish)
- Tryptophan (spirulina, eggs, red meat, bananas, beans/legumes, sesame seeds, walnuts, cashews, potatoes, organic/raw milk)
- Water – Stay hydrated, to keep our cells happy!
Antioxidant and Nourishing Sleep Smoothie
I came across a great sleep smoothie recipe by Ana Stanciu on Helloglow, which includes many of the key nutrients needed for sleep. I’ve made a couple of additions to up the green food factor (and had run out of flax seeds). Kiwis have been found to be a real wonder food, particularly when it comes to vitamin C. So do use this liberally in your recipes!
- 1 cup kale (detoxifies and nourishes the body. It contains all 9 amino acids, including tryptophan)
- 1 small handful lettuce (fibre, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, zinc along with vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, vitamin B-6, C, A, E, and vitamin K)
- 1 banana (magnesium, tryptophan & potassium. These relax muscles and create alkaline environment)
- 2 kiwis (vitamin C, folate, potassium, vitamins K & B, and antioxidants, which aid serotonin)
- 1 tsp flax seeds (omega 3 & tryptophan)
- 1 tbs almond butter (magnesium and protein to switch your muscles from adrenaline to rest mode for sleep)
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 1/2 cup live yoghurt (tryptophan and calcium, which helps body produce melatonin. Live yoghurt is probiotic, and can be easier to digest than the traditional warm milk before bed.)
Blend these beautiful ingredients together and enjoy any time of day, but particularly as you’re winding down for the night. For this smoothie, I used the 8000S juicer by Juicy Retreats. It’s got a really powerful juicing screw that crushes tougher and fibrous fruit and vegetables. It’s also quite hypnotic to watch! There are different attachments for juices, smoothies and nut milks. It has minimal waste and pours really good quantities. I made a double batch of this smoothie as it’s not just for those struggling to sleep!
It’s also important, of course, to create a good sleep environment. Dim lights, soothings smells (such as lavender and jasmine) and calming activities before bed are key (no blue light screens for two hours before bed). Everyday happiness also plays a really important role in firing up the feel good hormones involved in sleep. Think empowering creative projects or random acts of kindness, like giving the person a nice plant or teaching them the joys of making others happy. All this will have great effects on the hormones involved in sleep.
Beyond the Sleep Smoothie
If you have great food and drink recipes for sleep, I’d love to hear from you! You might also want to try my Buddha Bowl with black turtle beans, wild rice, dumplings and steamed vegetables. As well as more sleep smoothie and juice recipes, I’ll be writing further about why each of these vitamins and minerals are so important when it comes to sleep and mood control. So please do stay in touch!