With the Holidays fast approaching, it always comes to mind that most people have an amazing sleep after eating a good old-fashioned turkey dinner. With our busy lifestyles, shift work and activities, combined with using cell phones in bed while watching television, a good night’s sleep can be hard to come by in this day and age. Here are 18 foods that help promote a good night’s sleep using all-natural methods if you plan your dinner and bedtime snacks accordingly. Make sure not to binge before sleeping as over-eating prior to bed time can work against you as well:
Chicken and turkey contain tryptophan, an amino acid you can only get from food and drink. It helps your body create serotonin (a relaxing mood hormone) which helps your body make melatonin (a hormone-controlling sleep cycles).
Walnuts are an excellent source of tryptophan, a sleep-enhancing amino acid that makes serotonin and the “body clock” hormone melatonin which sets your sleep-wake cycles. University of Texas research shows walnuts also contain their own source of melatonin, which helps you fall asleep faster.
Almonds are rich in magnesium, a mineral necessary for bone building and for high quality sleep. A publication from the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine found that when magnesium levels are low in the body, staying asleep becomes quite difficult.
Cheese and Dairy Products
We tend to be told that warm milk helps us sleep, but truthfully any dairy product can help you sleep. Cheese, yogurt, milk, and dairy products contain calcium which helps the brain use the tryptophan (also found in dairy) to manufacture the sleep hormone melatonin.
You can speed up your bedtime by having a salad with dinner as lettuce contains lactucarium, which is known for its sedative properties. You can also make a lettuce drink before bed by simmering four large lettuce leaves in a cup of water for fifteen minutes. Remove this from heat and add a few sprigs of mint, then sip this concoction before bed!
High glycemic index foods like pretzels and corn chips cause a natural spike in your blood sugar and insulin levels, shortening the time it takes to fall asleep. Normally you want to avoid these foods to prevent mood swings and insulin resistance. However, if you are looking to get rest, this increase in blood sugar and insulin levels helps tryptophan enter your brain to induce sleep.
Fish such as salmon, tuna, and halibut are abundant in Vitamin B6, which makes melatonin. Melatonin is usually triggered by being in dark environments. Give melatonin a head start before you turn out the lights by having fish for dinner. Other foods rich in Vitamin B6 include raw garlic and pistachios.
White rice has a high glycemic index, so eating this with dinner will significantly decrease the amount of time it takes to fall asleep, according to an Australian sleep study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that jasmine rice provided the greatest benefit and caused people to fall asleep faster. White rice causes a natural increase in blood sugar and insulin levels, which helps tryptophan work in your brain faster.
According to the Universities of Pennsylvania and Rochester, a glass of cherry juice before bedtime could help you fall asleep faster. Cherries, particularly the tart ones, naturally boost melatonin levels. In these University studies, participants who drank cherry juice experienced some improvement in their insomnia symptoms in comparison to participants who drank a placebo beverage.
Cereal and Whole Grains
According to the National Sleep Foundation, a bowl of your favourite cereal before bed will help you get a better night’s sleep through the combination of carbohydrates from the cereal and calcium from the milk. If the cereal contains whole grains, this encourages insulin production which in turn results in tryptophan activity in the brain. Whole grains also contain magnesium which helps you stay asleep. You are more likely to wake throughout the night when magnesium levels are low.
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Chamomile tea is known not only as a stress-reliever but as a sleep aid as well. Research shows that drinking this tea results in an increase in glycine in your body. Glycine is a chemical known to relax nerves and muscles while acting as a mild sedative.
Findings from an Australian study showed that drinking a cup of passionfruit tea one hour before bed time helped people sleep more soundly. Researchers believe that chemicals found in high levels in the passionfruit flowers, known as Harman alkaloids, act on your nervous system to make you feel sleepy.
Honey contains the sugar glucose which is known to lower levels of orexin (a neurotransmitter in the brain that makes you more alert). Honey effectively puts that alertness in reverse. Honey also raises insulin and allows tryptophan to enter the brain, inducing sleepiness.
Kale and other green leafy vegetables such as spinach and mustard greens are loaded with calcium. Calcium helps use tryptophan to produce melatonin and help you fall sleep.
Shrimp and Lobster
Lobster and crustaceans such as shrimp are great sources of tryptophan and help bring on an easier night’s sleep.
Hummus is made from chickpeas which are a good source of tryptophan. A light lunch containing hummus and whole-grain crackers (which help tryptophan reach the brain) act as great precursor to an afternoon nap.
Elk is a game meat containing nearly twice the amount of tryptophan found in turkey breast. This means you’re much more likely to fall asleep after eating it, especially with a side dish containing carbohydrates which help tryptophan reach the brain.
Bananas are very high in potassium which helps to keep you asleep. They also contain the natural sedatives tryptophan and magnesium which help you fall asleep.
Want our help with other ways to sleep throughout the night? Dream Sleep Respiratory offers sleep studies, CPAP machines and supplies, and are on the provincial BiPAP program! Contact us today to see what we can offer you!