There are many elements to your life that contribute to better health. Along with stress relief, lifestyle habits, and exercise, you can count sleep and nutrition among them.
Sleep and nutrition actually work in conjunction to help your body’s natural repair process at a cellular level. And together, they provide the energy you need to enjoy a better quality of life during your waking hours.
Sometimes, the foods you eat can help or hurt the amount of sleep that you get. You have to make the right choices so that you’re fully rested when you wake in the morning.
First Things First
If you’re not getting enough sleep, the first thing you want to do is ensure you have proper sleep hygiene. Is your bed comfortable in terms of the mattress, pillows, sheets and blankets?
Is your room cool enough and have you turned off any and all electronic gadgets that might interrupt your slumber? If your routine is intact, then you might want to analyze nutrition as something causing the problem.
Start with portions. Some people eat so much at dinnertime that it makes it hard for them to get (or stay) asleep. A stuffed stomach makes you feel miserable, so learn to listen to your hunger cues and stop eating when you’re no longer hungry – not when you’re full.
Eating too much (or the wrong thing) can also result in acid reflux, which occurs in the night when you lie down and the food rises into your throat. This can be an irritating and painful experience.
So which foods will help you sleep a little better at night? Sometimes, we just cannot resist a snack at bedtime. Choosing the right foods that will enable you to relax and not keep you up at night is not rocket science. Knowing which foods or beverages stimulate the mind vs. calming the mind is straight-forward. So, get your grocery app ready and prepare to stock the pantry.
A Nice Warm Glass of Milk
Have you ever heard of drinking warm milk before bed? To many, this sounds unappetizing, because we’re used to ice cold milk. But it does have its sleep-inducing benefits – similar to how the tryptophan in turkey has that effect on you. According to WebMD, dairy products help the brain to produce sleep-triggering melatonin thanks in part to the levels of tryptophan that is available in this food group. L-tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is available through diet. The body uses tryptophan to create niacin which is responsible for the production of serotonin in our body. Serotonin is the chemical that gives us a sense of relaxation. Also, serotonin assists in the creation of melatonin which regulates our sleep and wake cycles. But it might not be just because of the tryptophan. It could be a warm, comfortable habit that does the trick.
Bananas are a great addition to any breakfast meal, but you might consider adding this fruit to your diet just for its effects on your sleep experience. Bananas contain magnesium and potassium which are great minerals for muscle relaxation.
Why is this quality important? For those who experience restless leg syndrome or muscle cramps, these two minerals can be your best friend in battling these two conditions that might keep you awake at night.
Don’t ditch your carbs just yet. Studies show that eating jasmine rice four hours before bedtime is an excellent way to induce sleep faster than other rice products according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (University of Sydney).
Cherries and Cherry Juice
Want to boost melatonin levels in your body naturally? A fresh bowl of cherries can help you drift off to sleep faster. Add cherries to your grocery basket next time you visit your supermarket. According to the Journal of Medicinal Food, Louisiana State University researchers found Montmorency tart cherry juice, when drank twice a day for two weeks, improved the overall sleep time in older adults suffering from insomnia by 90 minutes.
Aside from the natural boost in melatonin, you may be wondering what else is the driver of this phenomenon? Thanks to the ruby red pigments in Montmorency tart cherry juice (proanthocyanidins), the availability of tryptophan increases which serves also to improve serotonin levels which contribute to sleep. This process makes for the perfect formula in getting a good night’s rest.
Salad For Dinner as a Sedative?
Keeping it healthy during dinner could have positive effects on your sleep experience. Salad dinners rich in the ingredient lettuce could be your saving grace for a good night’s rest. Lettuce is abundant in the chemical lactucarium which contains analgesic and sedative properties.
Walnuts are the perfect snack before bed because they carry natural levels of melatonin.
Another nut that works in your favor is the almond. It helps your body get more sleep because it’s rich in magnesium, and they also contain calcium. Add a handful of almonds to your snacks during the day. Not a fan of almonds? Swap them out for almond-butter. You can spread it over a slice of toast. In addition to magnesium and calcium, almonds contain the necessary sleep-inducing amino acids and vitamins which help to trigger the release of melatonin.
Want to go herbal? Chamomile is an herbal cure that has been around for centuries as a treatment for insomnia. Studies show that chamomile acts a tranquilizer in mice. It has the power to reduce anxiety in some individuals thanks to its calming effects.
Foods rich in vitamin B6 like tuna, salmon, or even halibut can assist your body in increasing its production of melatonin and serotonin. These two chemicals together enable your body to achieve a resting state of high-quality sleep.
Tuna Salad Anyone?
These foods can help you improve your sleep experience. If you are in the midst of switching your diet to enhance your sleep experience, take slow steps. Take the time to understand what works well for your palate and what produces the chemical and hormonal changes necessary for quality sleep. Your experience may differ from that of another person.