The insomniac’s menu: My easy fish pie & other remedies

When it comes to student stereotypes, there are 2 well-earned ones: the “I sleep whenever and wherevercan” and the “I’m nocturnal and scared of daylight”  students. But what if, like me, you’re in category number 3 – awake all day and all night, with nothing but your laptop getting any kind of ‘sleep mode’.

I remember sleep…but I can’t remember the last time I slept through the night without waking up at least twice thinking it’s the morning, only to be disappointed and blinded by my phone, who tells me it’s 3:17am and I have full lives on candy crush. Lately I’ve been getting so frustrated about being awake at these times that I have even tried getting out of bed and making a start on tomorrow’s to-do list. Surely a better way to spend my time than losing count around sheep no.250. But as productive as having all of your washing done and dried by 7am may be, I’ve been starting to worry about the effects of having such a disrupted sleeping pattern.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends between 7 and 9 hours of sleep for a young adult – I wish. So since this is just not happening for me, i’m going to concentrate the rest of this week on trying to improve my sleeping habits – going back to basics and starting with my bedtime routine. One of my favourite bloggers, and all-round healthy lifestyle guru, is Madeline Shaw, be sure to check out her website as it’s full of amazing lifestyle advice and delicious recipes. Her post ‘My top tricks to beat insomnia’ click here, suggests not eating past 8:30pm and getting into bed by 10pm. Here’s somewhere that I can definitely make a start! This week i’m going to curb the late bedtimes, dinners and midnight revision snacks – because although it may seem like common sense, these habits are easy to make but tough to break! I’ll make sure to post the outcomes of my attempt at this new routine, hopefully my journey to finding a better night’s sleep will help out whoever is reading these posts and also belongs in that exhausted third category.

So what can I do to give myself the best chance at a good night’s sleep? Something that I find really affects my mood before bed is a tidy room, i’m lucky to have made my room into a complete relaxation den, but when there are clothes/books lying around I definitely don’t feel at home! I also appreciate the little additions of fairy lights and other warming, homely comforts such as pictures, candles and comfy bedding. These make the world of difference when it comes to creating a comfortable and chilled out environment, especially when it’s your first time away from home. 

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In general my weekdays are kept pretty busy – it’s how I function best, so the most frustrating part of it all is feeling like I should be more tired than I am by the end of the day! So if you’re anything like me, you’ve tried the early nights, no phone before bed and reading, but despite all of this…no luck. Maybe it’s worth considering what is keeping our brains so active at night and the processes that our bodies are going through whilst we should be sleeping, a particularly important one being our digestion. Could there really be foods that aid sleep? This is another question that I’ve been looking into recently. I found this article quite amusing, obviously coffee and energy drinks aren’t going to be on the ‘best foods for sleep’ list, but it did give some interesting suggestions. From what I have read online so far, foods containing complex carbohydrates, fish, dairy (although no good for me!) magnesium and potassium are your best bet when it comes to your last meal of the day. These foods contribute to easier digestion so that your body can focus on winding down for sleep, rather than digesting stubborn/large quantities of food. Simply including wholegrain rice in your dinner, bananas in your dessert and a warming milky drink to finish the evening could be really beneficial to your sleeping dilemma, and there are plenty of alternatives! Another really popular suggestion is soothing chamomile or peppermint tea before bed, both are delicious and naturally caffeine free so it’s all down to personal preference.

This has inspired me to share my really easy Fish Pie for 2 recipe, using sweet potato as our complex carb topping for a delicious and nutritious comfort meal. The tuna and sweet potato make a great combination, and who knows – it could even make a difference to our sleeping patterns!

A Simple Fish Pie: (Serves 2)

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  • 2 large tins or pouches of tuna, drained
  • 2 medium/large sweet potatoes
  • 1 can of sweetcorn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can/1 cup frozen petit pois
  • 1 tsp dried chili flakes
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp almond milk (I use for DF, you can use your milk of choice)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 tbsp tahini (optional- adds creaminess) 

Preheat oven to 180°C (fan). In a large bowl mix together the tuna, peas, lemon juice, sweetcorn (optional tahini) and season with S&P. Spray/drizzle an oven-proof dish with olive oil and scoop in your filling making an even layer that covers the bottom of the dish. Set aside and peel the sweet potato, chop and add to a pan of boiling water with a pinch of salt, and boil for around 15 mins, until the chunks are lovely and soft.

Whilst your potato is boiling you could prepare your sides! I would suggest serving wish fresh green veggies like long-stem broccoli and asparagus, and some lemon wedges.

Now you can drain the water and add in a splash of almond milk and some paprika, then mash until smooth – a good pre-dinner workout! Be sure to give the mash a taste test and add any seasoning that you fancy! Spread that delicious sweet P mash over the tuna layer of the dish, again evenly covering the area, and sprinkle over a few chili flakes. Let this bake in the oven for 20-30 mins. Feel free to totally make it your own, maybe add some cheese or herby toppings to the pie, or play around with using two small oven dishes rather than 1. And if tuna isn’t your fish, you could definitely use salmon, cod or experiment with your own ideas – fishy delishy! 

Something i’d like to quickly mention is that sleeping troubles can often be the result of anxiety and stress, but these everyday worries that we carry with us aren’t worth the negative effects to our health. Maybe something from your day is playing on your mind before you go to bed, something someone said or how something made you feel, try to remember that worrying about it when it’s late and dark makes everything seem worse. A really effective method for dealing with anxiety is to allow yourself ‘times of worrying’. Literally allocate a specific part of your day, no longer than a few minutes, to simply worry – but then let it go. So that when you next feel that panicky feeling coming on, you can remind yourself that it isn’t worth your time and energy in that moment. More on this type of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) can be read online, here’s an interesting link, and don’t forget that there is always someone that you can talk to. This is a post-in-progress and I will make sure to keep my blog up to date with how i’m getting on and what I find helps. I’d love to know what you come up with, and any thoughts/ideas you have about eating your way to sleeping soundly. So keep me updated too – I’m still loving all of the pictures I’m being sent, this week one in particular looks seriously delicious, check out this recreation of my turkey & pepper skewers with homemade tzatziki!

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Sweet dreams! 

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