We live in a non-stop society, and in our rush, we often put sleep on the back burner. Yet, that’s the wrong approach. Sleep has a huge impact on how you feel during the day, and nutrition plays a role in how well you sleep. Food relates directly to serotonin, a key hormone that helps promote healthy sleep. More than 50 million Americans are deprived of enough shut-eye.
- Keep you happy
- Keeps the brain sharp
- Strengthens the immune system
- Helps trim the waistline
- Keeps skin looking youthful
- Lowers risk of high blood pressure and heart disease
If you’re having a problem sleeping, or would like to get better sleep, try consuming more foods that calm the body, increase serotonin levels and prepare the body for restful sleep. Here are the foods to get you started.
Embrace whole-grain breads, cereals, pasta, crackers and brown rice. Avoid simple refined carbs like,breads, pasta and sweets such as cookies, cakes, pastries and other sugary junk foods. These tend to reduce serotonin levels and do not promote sleep. Bulgur, barley and other whole grains are rich in magnesium , and consuming too little magnesium can make it harder to stay asleep, reported the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine.
Add some Jasmine or brown rice to your dinner. When you eat complex carb-rich suppers of veggies and tomato sauce over rice, they fell asleep significantly faster if the meal included high-glycemic-index (GI) jasmine rice rather than lower-GI long-grain rice.
Lean Proteins & Foods Rich in Calcium
Lean proteins include low-fat cheese, chicken, turkey and fish. These foods are high in the amino acid tryptophan, which tends to increase serotonin levels. Most fish—and especially salmon, halibut and tuna—boast vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness), according to an article published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Research shows that being calcium deficient can make it difficult to fall asleep. Greek yogurt boasts healthy doses of calcium, and although dairy products are well-known calcium-rich foods, but green leafy vegetables, such as kale and collards, boast healthy doses of calcium as well.
There’s some debate as to how well your body handles tryptophan, and a study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that getting it from high-protein foods can work against you, because protein can prevent tryptophan from entering your brain. But when you combine high-protein with carbs, it becomes easier for tryptophan to break through the brain’s barriers. Eat oatmeal with bananas and almonds, for a real sleepy snack, or whole-grain cereal with organic milk.
Unsaturated fats boost heart health and improve serotonin levels. Eat organic peanut butter and nuts such as walnuts, almonds, cashews and pistachios. Avoid foods with saturated and trans fats like, french fries, potato chips or other high-fat junk foods, because they bring your serotonin levels down.
Walnuts are also a good source of tryptophan, a sleep-enhancing amino acid that helps make serotonin and melatonin. The University of Texas researchers also found that walnuts contain their own source of melatonin, which may help you fall asleep faster.
Almonds are rich in magnesium, a mineral needed for quality sleep. A study published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine found that when the body’s magnesium levels are too low, it makes it harder to stay asleep.
Foods Rich in Lycopene
Lycopene improves sleep, and has also been said to prevent heart disease and cancer, it has anti-aging benefits. Lycopene is also great for weight loss… and being your proper weight will aid sleep too. You can find lycopene in is grapefruit, tomatoes, papaya and watermelon. Eating Grapefruit before going to bed can help you sleep. Cooked tomatoes are best because cooking unlocks more of the lycopene and Watermelon is a superfood as it contains many great nutrients and is fab for weightloss and inflammation. It also a fantastic source of lycopene and will help you relax and sleep.
Other Beneficial Vitamins & Minerals
Bananas & Chickpeas are a good source of Vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin. Bananas actually offer two minerals (potassium and magnesium) that promote muscle relaxation. In fact, magnesium deficiencies are related to restless leg syndrome and nighttime muscle cramps, two conditions that can certainly interfere with your sleep.
Fresh herbs can have a calming effect on the body. Sage and basil contain chemicals that reduce tension and promote sleep. Making your own homemade pasta sauce with sage and basil is easy to do, and homemade sauces tend to be lower in sugar than store-bought versions. Try to avoid herbs like red pepper or black pepper at night, as they have a stimulatory effect.
Watch Your Beverages
Certain drinks can promote or prevent sleep. A good, soothing beverage to drink before bedtime would be a glass of cherry juice could make you fall asleep faster, according to researchers from the Universities of Pennsylvania and Rochester. Cherry juice, particularly tart cherry juice, naturally boost levels of melatonin. In the study, subjects who drank cherry juice experienced some improvement in their insomnia symptoms compared to those who drank a placebo beverage.
Other good choices are herbal tea such as chamomile or peppermint. As for caffeinated drinks, if you are having difficulty sleeping consume that last cup by 2 p.m., as Caffeine can affect people differently, and even the smallest amount of stimulant can keep you awake.