Some people have trouble falling asleep. Others can’t stay asleep. And then there are the people who have trouble turning life “off” and tucking into bed at a reasonable hour. Whatever the reason, there’s a solution. Adding these foods to your diet may help to increase your odds of a good night’s slumber.
The Relationship of Food and Sleep
Food is a science of chemistry in the human body. In additional to giving us nourishment, the things we eat and drink can pick us up or slow us down. Knowing how food and beverages affect the body can help keep you alert during the day and avoid the troubles of sleeplessness at night.
- Tryptophan is an amino acid that causes sleepiness. Carbohydrates make tryptophan more available to the brain. Proteins from the food we eat are the building blocks of tryptophan, which is why the best bedtime snack is one that contains both carbohydrate and protein.
- Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that regulates sleepiness. It is produced by converting tryptophan to serotonin, then melatonin. Foods high in melatonin or melatonin supplements are widely used as sleep aids.
Eat Well, Sleep Better
Sleep is essential for key functions; it keeps you happy, your brain sharp, your immune system strong, and it lowers your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. These 10 foods have fundamental nutrients to promote sleep.
Lettuce. Green leafy vegetables, such as kale, lettuce and collards, boast healthy doses of calcium. A calcium deficiency may make it difficult to fall asleep. A salad with dinner could help you sleep more soundly because lettuce contains lactucarium, which has sedative properties and affects the brain similarly to opium. You can also try brewing three to four large lettuce leaves in a cup of water for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, add two sprigs of mint, and sip just before you go to bed.
Cherries. Cherries, especially the tart varieties, are one of the few food sources of melatonin, the sleep hormone that regulates your circadian rhythm. Drinking tart cherry juice before bed may help troubled sleepers through the night.
Milk. Dairy products like yogurt and milk are high in calcium — and calcium deficiency may make it difficult to fall asleep.
Almonds. These crunchy nuts do more than add flavor to your salads or trail mix. Almonds contain magnesium, a muscle-relaxing mineral that plays a key role in regulating sleep. A handful of almonds or tablespoon of almond butter before bed may help you fall asleep.
Other nut varieties known to aid in sleep include peanut butter and pumpkin seeds. Peanut butter is rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that causes sleep. Spread some peanut butter on whole-grain bread as a bedtime snack. Pumpkin seeds are also packed with a variety of essential nutrients, including substantial amounts of tryptophan. Add a small piece of carb-rich fruit with your pumpkin seed snack to help the sleep-inducing nutrients reach your brain.
Walnuts. When the body’s magnesium levels are too low, it makes it harder to stay asleep. Along with increasing magnesium levels, walnuts are also a natural source of tryptophan, which helps make serotonin and melatonin.
Jasmine Rice. Carbohydrate-rich suppers of veggies and tomato sauce over rice may help with sleep, especially if the meal included high-glycemic-index (GI) jasmine rice. Greater amounts of insulin triggered by high-GI meals increase the ratio of sleep-inducing tryptophan to other amino acids in the blood, allowing proportionately more to get into the brain.
Hummus. Chickpeas boat vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin. Chickpeas are the main ingredient in hummus, which are rich in tryptophan but also in folate and vitamin B6. Folate helps to regulate sleep patterns and vitamin B6 helps to regulate your circadian rhythm.
Bananas. Well-known for being rich in potassium, bananas are also a good source of vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin. These nutritional powerhouses contain tryptophan. Bananas also offer abundant amounts of magnesium and potassium, which help to relax muscles and ease painful muscle contractions that can wake you during the night.
Cheese. Cottage cheese, specifically, is a perfect source of protein before bed since it contains slow-digesting casein proteins that will evenly distribute the amino acids to the muscle tissues. It is also high in tryptophan. Pair your cottage cheese with a tablespoon of natural almond butter to keep the body satisfied.
Honey. We all know that honey has healing properties for coughs and colds, but it also helps with sleep quality. Eating honey helps restock the liver with glycogen, releases melatonin in the brain, and stimulates the release of tryptophan in the brain, as well. Taking one or two teaspoons of raw honey before bedtime can help you sleep better.
Schedule a Consultation
The importance of quality sleep cannot be overstated — from keeping your appetite in check to regulating your blood pressure and cholesterol, the proper amount of sleep ensures your body is functioning at its best.
To get you started, discuss and review your treatment options in order find the perfect option for you and your loved ones. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Shukla today for treatment options.