Michael van Straten
Michael van Straten

The Secret Of Good Sleep Is On Your Plate

27% of morning drivers are sleepy
17% of drivers say they have dozed off at the wheel on the way to work at least once a month and 10% were at the point of stopping.
7% of them have also had a minor accident, without damage or injury.

They fall asleep at the wheel more often in the morning (38%), between 6 am and 12 pm and on major roads like motorways.

No one is immune, not even those who make short trips or those mostly using small, familiar roads.

Studies have shown that sweets promote sleep. Increasing the blood glucose level could be responsible for this beneficial effect. But carbohydrates act primarily by helping the production of serotonin, essential to the secretion of melatonin, a hormone which facilitates sleep. However, sugar has a positive effect on serotonin only if consumed during periods of rest. Consumed during exercise, carbohydrates inhibit the synthesis of serotonin and thus stop you from falling asleep.

Eating sugar is not enough to produce serotonin; we also need to ingest Tryptophan, an amino acid that the body does not manufacture for itself. Tryptophan is found in almost all dietary protein and allows the manufacture of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin helps us regulate mood and prepares us for sleep.

A meal rich in sugars and low in protein indirectly increases the concentration of tryptophan in the body and facilitates its presence in the brain, thus promoting the production of serotonin and melatonin.

Conversely, a high protein meal decreases brain levels of tryptophan and thus the production of serotonin is reduced too.

Foods Rich In Tryptophan:
- eggs
- dairy products
- meat
- fish
- pulses (lentils, chickpeas, beans ...)
- brown rice
- banana
- chocolate (but beware of caffeine it contains, especially dark chocolate)
- cashews and almonds
- pumpkin seeds

Do Herbs Help?
Herbal teas can be a real help for falling asleep in the first place because they help to establish a ritual before bedtime that the brain will interpret as a sleep signal. The type of infusion will also determine the outcome.

Some plants such as valerian, passionflower, lemon verbena or hawthorn are known for their relaxing properties that will help you to fall asleep. Finally, like any hot beverage, the tea will help lower the internal temperature by a heat exchange mechanism. Drinking a hot drink triggers sweating that will refresh the whole body.

NiteHerb is a traditional extract of the Valerian plant and is one of the few herbal sleep remedies that contain Valerian. It has been used as a medicinal herb since at least the time of ancient Greece and Rome, and was used as a perfume in the sixteenth century. Valerian is a hardy perennial flowering plant, with heads of sweetly scented pink or white flowers.
Bonuit is another great herbal remedy to help you sleep. It contains a combination of Valerian and the other trusted plant to aid a good night’s sleep, Passion Flower.

Passion Flower has natural calming properties. It is a climbing shrub native to South America, which can grow as high as 9m and is widely cultivated throughout Europe. It produces wonderful showy flowers with white petals surrounded by a crown of pink or violet filaments and large stamens with orange coloured sacs.

Both products are sold as pharmaceutical grade coated tablets, foiled blister packed to retain freshness and maintain potency.

For more information and to buy on line, go to:

Also available from Holland & Barrett and other leading pharmacy and health food stores.

Sleep And Nutrition
Sleep is a vital function of the body. It plays a role in repairing and control. Sleep is essential to the balance of hormonal and metabolic secretions, the control of blood sugar, appetite and weight. Several epidemiological studies link sleep deprivation and obesity in adults and even in children.

The links between sleep and obesity are well documented: weight gain is not only related to decreased physical activity and snacking. The French National Nutrition Health Plan for Obesity is also planning to incorporate recommendations on sleep improvement for young and old alike.

It is therefore essential to have three meals in a day of varying composition depending on whether it is breakfast, lunch or dinner. Indeed, certain foods induce sleep while others are stimulants. Dinner should not be too early as this can make you wake up due to hunger pangs. But too late won’t help either as digestion leads to an increase in body temperature, especially if the meal has been heavy and high in protein.

Dinner is best around 2-3 hours before bedtime, avoiding overeating, too much booze and lots of coffee!

A recipe for good sleep!
Turkey, Lentils, Almonds, Yogurt And Grilled Courgettes.
This supplies lots of tryptophan, protein and good carbs.

Ingredients for 4 people

4 turkey cutlets
100g of shelled almonds broken into pieces
2 courgettes
150g natural yoghurt
400 g cooked canned lentils
1 clove garlic
4 tbsp. tablespoons olive oil
Black pepper

1 Preheat oven to 200 ° C. Cut courgettes lengthways fairly thin slices. Arrange them on a hot griddle pan and brush with half the olive oil. Salt and pepper, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes.
2 Meanwhile, cut the turkey into cubes. Drain the lentils. Peel and finely chop the garlic.
3 Heat a large frying pan over high heat, with the remaining olive oil. Once hot, add the garlic and turkey cubes. Mix for about 3 minutes, so the meat begins to brown on all sides, then lower the heat and add the lentils. Cover and simmer 10 minutes on low heat.
4 Add the yoghurt mix well
5 Remove the courgettes from the oven and serve with the turkey and lentils
6 Sprinkle with the almonds

Poor sleep is a common problem for serious athletes due to the lower immunity that results from intensive training, fatigue and injury. An important study found that taking a daily dose of the fermented probiotic drink Yakult, boosted their immune functions and protected them from regular infections like colds, coughs and other bugs. The end result – they enjoyed the better quality sleep essential for high performance athletes.

For the rest of us "normal" beings, a real robber of our eight hours is indigestion. Since I was first aware of Yakult in the 90s I have used the powerful effect of this pro biotic to treat digestive problems in my patients. IBS, diverticulitis, constipation, acidity, hiatus hernia or just good old fashioned indigestion and overindulgence; all have responded to the gut healing natural bacteria in Yakult. So, if your sleep is the result of a troubled gut, take a pot of Yakult each day for a month and see what happens. After my years of experience, I am pretty sure that you will be very happy.


Some of my books...

Sign up for my e-mail newsletter:


10 Day Detox With Kim WildeMichael Van Straten's 10 Day Detox With Kim Wilde

"In this video, we will take you through a series of easy to follow and achievable steps. You too can safely and effectively lose weight as well as significantly increase energy levels".

Migraine Misery?


MigraHerb® Feverfew capsules.

MigraHerb® is a traditional herbal medicinal product used for the prevention of migraine headaches exclusively based upon long-standing use as a traditional remedy. Always read the label.

tickLessens frequency and severity of migraine attacks

tickFor people who have a doctor's diagnosis for this condition

MigraHerb® 30 one-a-day capsules.
Normally £8.16
NOW £6.90
Save £1.26.

» For more information visit www.migraherb.co.uk

De-stress and Energise!


Vitano® Rhodiola rosea tablets.

Vitano® is a traditional herbal medicinal product used for the temporary relief of symptoms associated with stress, such as fatigue, exhaustion and mild anxiety, based on traditional use only. Always read the label.

tickHelps revive both mental and physical performance

tickBalances a hectic lifestyle... naturally!

Vitano® 30 tablets normally £13.27
NOW £9.90 - Save £3.37.
Multi-buy deal also available.

» For more information visit www.vitano.co.uk

Not Sleeping?


NiteHerb® Valerian tablets.

NiteHerb® is a traditional herbal medicinal product used for the temporary relief of sleep disturbances due to symptoms of mild anxiety exclusively based on long-standing use as a traditional remedy. Always read the label.

tickA natural solution to a good night's sleep

tickWake up revived - not groggy!

NiteHerb® 30 tablets normally £6.12
NOW £5.20 - Save £0.92.
Multi-buy deal also available.

» For more information visit www.niteherb.co.uk