SLEEP is vital for all of us and if you're struggling to get the snooze you need then it can be difficult.

While keeping regular sleeping hours and have a good sleep environment is key, eating right can also help.

Physician in psychiatry and sleep medicine, Alex Dimitru said seven to eight hours of sleep per night is ideal for most people.

He explained: "We should aim to be realistic, and ideally create a "window" of time for sleep of eight or nine hours – with the realisation that despite our efforts, we all end up sleeping a little less than we planned.”

Alex, who is working with mattress brand OTTY said in order to try and restore your sleep deficit, simple tweaks in your diet can help.

"Adding minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium, and iron onto your plate can help promote the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleep regulation.

"Research shows that some specific foods contain sleep-promoting properties that will encourage you to drift off more easily and quickly."

Here are the 10 foods that could help you drift off into a peaceful slumber.

1. Cherries

Melatonin is key to sleep and cherries contain plenty of this.

Alex said that these are great to snack on in front of the TV and that you could also mix them with other sources of melatonin such as nuts and oats.

He added: "When eaten regularly for breakfast or as a post-workout snack, they can help in regulating your sleep cycle."

2. Dark chocolate

If you're a chocoholic then it's best to stick to the dark variety to help you drift off to sleep.

"Dark chocolate contains serotonin, which relaxes your body and mind, and promotes a general feeling of happiness", Alex said.

3. Almonds

Almonds contain tryptophan and magnesium, which both help to naturally reduce muscle and nerve function while also steadying your heart rhythm, Alex said.

If you don't fancy chomping down on nuts, then he said that almond butter will also have the same effect.

"Spread it on crackers, a banana, or a piece of toast when your late night cravings hit. Be careful not to go overboard though, and keep your dollop to under a tablespoon so you're not feeling too full before attempting to rest", he added.

4. Walnuts

Alex said that if almonds aren't for you then you could try walnuts, as they contain a few compounds that help promote better sleep at night, such as melatonin, serotonin and magnesium.

"Walnuts are fantastic when chopped up and added to a fresh salad, as a topping on cereal or yogurt, or by themselves as a crunchy alternative to crisps or more unhealthy nuts", he said.

5. Homous

Alex said that if you're waking up in the middle of the night then it might be because you're still hungry.

He suggested adding homous to your meal as it is a great source of tryptophan, which the body uses to help make melatonin and serotonin.

"Melatonin helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle, and serotonin is thought to help regulate appetite, sleep, mood, and pain", he added.

6. Watermelon

Throughout the day we consume lots of drinks from tea to booze and many people don't drink enough water throughout the day.

Alex said: "As well as compromising your overall energy levels, dehydration could also be impacting your ability to not only fall asleep, but remain asleep. 

"Choosing watery fruits like watermelon can make up for any deficits.  A simple 2-cup serving is half water, which will hydrate you before bed and eliminate post-dinner hunger pains due to its fibre and volume.

"Other fruits with high water content include pears, oranges and apples."

7. Chamomile tea

Chamomile tea has been proven to help ease the symptoms of insomnia as the herb contains a flavonoid compound that is known to harbour sleep inducing properties, so once your taste buds become accustomed to the unique taste, a cup a night before bed could do wonders for your rest, Alex said.

8. Pistachios

Pistachios contain protein, magnesium, and vitamin B6, all of which contribute to better sleep. 

Alex said: "Hold back on them though, and don't exceed a 1-ounce portion.

"If you eat too much it can reverse the effect and keep you awake due to a high calorie intake!"

9. Oats

Porridge is a breakfast staple for many, but Alex said making a small bowl in the evening could help promote a better night's sleep.

"A bowl for breakfast may be your usual go to, but making yourself a small bowl oatmeal in the evening could help promote a better night's sleep.

"The grains in oatmeal trigger insulin production, which raises your blood sugar naturally and makes you feel sleepy.#

"Oats are also rich in melatonin, which relaxes the body and helps you fall asleep", he explained.

10. Bananas

Bananas are packed with potassium and magnesium that are known to relax the muscles, Alex said.

"They also contain the amino acid L-tryptophan, which gets converted to 5-HTP in the brain. The 5-HTP is converted to serotonin, a relaxing neurotransmitter.

"As you’re probably already aware, when it's getting close to bedtime, it’s important you're steering clear of heavy fried foods, alcohol, caffeine (like coffee, tea, and energy drinks), and any heartburn-inducing foods, such as tomato sauce or orange juice.

"These can have the exact opposite effect and keep you tossing and turning for longer."

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