How what you eat affects your sleep

Most people suffer from poor sleep at some point in their lives.  Studies indicate that only around 10 percent of adults sleep well all the time.

A lack of sleep can leave you physically and emotionally exhausted and affect your health and wellbeing.  I've had sleep challenges over the years and it can be so frustrating, staring at the clock and willing yourself to go back to sleep.  I've since got a handle on it but I still have the odd night when I find myself awake in the early hours and it's normally down to a bad lifestyle habit I've let creep back in.  The food you consume can play a major part in your ability to sleep well.  

The connection between food and sleep is complex.. What you eat affects how you sleep but the reverse is also true.  Research shows that people who are sleep deprived tend to eat more fat-rich foods, simple carbohydrates and fewer vegetables, possibly because sleep loss alters chemical signals connected to metabolism and hunger.  I know when I feel tired I tend to reach for carbs like crisps and bread.  There's also been studies showing links to sleep deprivation and weight gain.

When you eat affects your sleep.  Try and eat your main meal earlier in the evening - eating pushes up the body’s core temperature and this can disrupt sleep so have your dinner at least four hours before going to bed. 

The types of food you eat has an impact.  The kind of stuff you should incorporate into your diet is food that’s rich in fibre, magnesium and omega 3.  Try and eat more chickpeas, lentils, salmon, mackerel, almonds, walnuts, cherries and kiwi – a study in Taiwan found adults who ate two kiwi fruit before bed every night for four weeks increased their sleep time by 13%......pass me the kiwi!!!.

You need to avoid the usual culprits, alcohol, caffeine, spicy foods and sugary treats as they can all disrupt your sleep.  If you can’t function without caffeine try reducing your intake gradually, I have swapped my afternoon caffeine fix for a fizz stick to boost my energy, it's full of ginseng, guarana, green tea and B12 so it supports my adrenals and gives me good energy unlike the effects of caffeine.   If you don’t want a disturbed sleep, cut back on alcohol.  Small amounts of booze play havoc with my sleep – wine is definitely the reason I had a lousy sleep this weekend.

Food is only a small factor in supporting a good night’s sleep.  You need to apply some techniques and principles as well as follow a routine for at least four weeks to see any improvement. 

There’s loads of great recipes out there that can aid a good night sleep.  I love this walnut crusted lemon chicken piccata from Wholesomlicious – walnuts are rich in fibre and magnesium which help support sleep.  This dish is gluten free and only takes 20 minutes to make.

The Mind Tribe Sleep Success workshop looks at making some simple changes to your lifestyle and applying a bit of brain training to see significant improvements to your sleep pattern.  For more information please contact

Walnut Crusted Lemon Chicken Piccata


·         4 medium sized chicken breasts

·         1 cup walnuts

·         Salt and Pepper

·         3 tbsp olive oil

·         2 cloves garlic crushed

·         2 lemons

·         1 cup chicken broth

·         2 tbsp drained capers

·         2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley



1.      Begin by heating up a large frying pan to medium high heat.

2.      While pan is heating, pound chicken breasts so they are about 1/2 inch thick. Season with salt and pepper

3.      Pulse walnuts in a food processor until it resembles a crumbly mixture, place inside a shallow bowl.

4.      Place seasoned chicken breasts in the walnut coating, getting both sides.

5.      Add 2 tbsp olive oil to the frying pan, and all the chicken breasts into the pan. Cook for approximately 2-3 minutes per side. Outside should be golden and crispy, and the inside should be cooked through. DO NOT OVERCOOK!! Remove to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

6.      Juice one of the lemons, and slice the other for serving (or juice it for the sauce if you want it EXTRA lemon-y, adjust to your taste).

7.      Now make the lemon sauce: add the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil (may need an extra tbsp), and scrape up any of the brown bits on the pan. Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds. Add lemon juice, chicken broth, and capers while you continue to scrape around the pan. Sauce should bubble and begin to thicken after 2-3 minutes. If you would like the sauce to be thicker, you can always add 2 tsp cornflour with 1tbsp water and mix into the sauce.

8.      Pour sauce over chicken and serve immediately with lemon slices and chopped parsley.