10 Foods That Can Help You Sleep Better
Common advice has always been to avoid eating at least two hours before going to sleep out of fear that a full belly can inhibit sleep. Research has also shown the connection between late night eating and weight gain in addition to our tendency to “stress eat” when tired, which often means overeating high-fat comfort food.
While eating a heavy meal before bed does interfere with sleep and digestion, new studies have shown that many foods can actually promote quality sleep. Most of these foods are rich in two important minerals; potassium and magnesium. Both of these elements promote the production of melatonin, which is a hormone that tells our body that it is time to sleep. Melatonin levels rise in the evening and peak in the early hours of the morning, around 2:00 or 3:00 a.m, and then tapers off.
We decided to do some research and came up with this comprehensive list of foods that might help those suffering from poor sleep.
Most fish such as salmon and tuna are rich in vitamin B6, the vitamin necessary for the production of melatonin.
Additionally, a study conducted by the University of Oxford found that supplementing children with sleep disturbances with omega-3 helped them get nearly an extra hour of sleep. Other research has suggested that omega-3s can help reduce inflammation and may assist with sleep apnea.
Eat cherries or drink cherry juice. Cherries are naturally high in melatonin, especially tart cherries.
One of many studies that has proven the efficacy of eating cherries as a sleep aid found that people who drank cherry juice fell asleep faster and stayed asleep longer.
Bananas contain tryptophan, an amino acid that turns into serotonin and melatonin in the brain. The neurotransmitter serotonin helps regulate the body’s sleep cycle. Bananas also have a lot of magnesium and potassium, which help the muscles relax. Supplementation of magnesium improves subjective measures of insomnia according to several studies.
- Dairy foods
Did your parents ever make you drink milk before bed? Surprise… they were right! Dairy products are high in calcium, which helps regulate melatonin. Some studies have indicated that people who lack calcium have problems falling and staying asleep. Milk also contains tryptophan, which produces the sedative effect we get after drinking a cup.
The inability to achieve deep sleep is often related to low calcium levels, so eating dairy products like yogurt is an effective way to get better sleep.
This delicious “brain food” contains high amounts of vitamin B6 and tryptophan. It is also high in calcium and helps the body relax, thus, preparing the body for a deep sleep.
Nuts, like walnuts and almonds, are good sources of tryptophan, which as mentioned earlier, is converted to serotonin. Some studies have even found that walnuts can directly increase melatonin levels. Almonds in particular are rich in magnesium, a deficiency that has been linked to insomnia.
Other nuts, especially pecans and brazil nuts, are rich in Zinc, another mineral necessary for serotonin and melatonin production.
This amazing fruit can raise melatonin levels over 200 percent.
Food with high Glycemic Index (GI) can significantly slash the time required to fall asleep. A 2007 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming jasmine rice four hours before bedtime cut the amount of time it took to fall asleep in half when compared with eating a high-glycemic-index meal at the same time interval.
Brown rice also contains gamma-amino-butyric-acid (GABA), a natural calming agent that calms the nervous system like a natural tranquilizer.
- Chamomile tea
This popular, sedating tea helps with sleep and upset stomach. Try it and enjoy as you ease into sleep. Just be careful not to fall asleep with a hot tea in hand!
- Ginger tea
Ginger tea is a natural pain reliever and reduces inflammation in the body, which is why it can be incredibly helpful to drink before bedtime. You can purchase ginger tea bags in the store or cut up whole ginger root and boil it for 10 minutes. Some like to add turmeric or honey for added benefit.
If you are anything like me, you can definitely appreciate being able to late-night snack knowing that you are actually doing something good for yourself. Each of the above foods can help anyone get a good night’s rest and are worth a try before reaching for potentially-addictive prescription sleep-aid pills.