12 Foods to Eat for Better Sleep
By Sarah Baker, CHN
Daily stressors and responsibilities can lead to making your mind go into overdrive when it’s time to sleep, causing insomnia or regular disturbances in your sleep pattern. Even though it might seem like an impossible task to drift off into a deep slumber, it doesn’t have to be.
What you eat (and what you don’t eat) can have a direct impact on your quality of sleep--either by helping you to doze off, or keeping you wired until the early morning hours. By focusing on specific vitamins and nutrients found in these foods, you can level up your evening routine to get a peaceful night’s sleep.
Try baking sweet potato chips for an evening snack. Sweet potatoes contain calcium, magnesium and potassium which are all great to promote relaxation and better sleep. Simply slice up a sweet potato, sprinkle it with Himalayan pink salt and pepper and bake until crispy.
Another great source of tryptophan, hummus can be eaten as a midday snack to help improve your chances of dozing off at the end of the day. Tryptophan helps produce sleep-inducing amino acids that assist with lessening sleep disturbances, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be consumed right before bedtime.
Just like almonds, walnuts also contain tryptophan and in addition to that, they are a natural source of melatonin. Eating a handful of walnuts can help regulate your internal body clock which dictates your sleep-wake cycles.
Bananas contain vitamin B6, potassium and magnesium which are a powerhouse combination when it comes to getting a better night’s sleep. Vitamin B6 is a super vitamin for dozing off as it helps convert tryptophan into serotonin, and is needed to create melatonin, which helps increase feelings of relaxation.
Cheese and Dairy
The calcium content in cheese, milk and yogurt helps our body better use and regulate tryptophan (which is also found in dairy). Calcium also helps relax muscles and ease stress.
Enjoying a salad for dinner can help bring upon tiredness as it contains a sedative property called lactucarium. You can make a sleep-inducing salad by combining walnuts, goat cheese, red leaf lettuce and balsamic vinaigrette.
When you consume brown rice, your blood sugar and insulin levels will naturally rise which could help you fall asleep faster. This is ideal when you eat rice in the evening as the rise and fall of your blood sugar and insulin levels will make you feel sleepy. But keep in mind that you want to maintain even levels of your blood sugar throughout the day so that you don’t have drastic swings in your energy levels.
Miso soup contains amino acids that help promote the production of the natural sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin. Since it’s a hearty and warm broth, its flavor is also comforting and ideal to eat in the evening when you want to wind down.
Fish like salmon, halibut and tuna are not only great sources of healthy fatty acids, they also contain vitamin B6 which helps you create serotonin and melatonin. So not only are you helping prevent inflammation by consuming fatty fish, you’re also helping yourself get a better night’s sleep.
Oatmeal, just like brown rice, creates a spike in insulin levels when consumed which in turn makes you feel tired once that spike drops. Melatonin is also naturally found in oatmeal, so when combined, melatonin and that spike in insulin can help you fall asleep quicker.
When consumed regularly, cherries help to regulate your melatonin intake as they are a rich source of this sleep-inducing hormone. Even drinking cherry juice can do the trick--just be sure to source fresh-farmed cherries, and not canned cocktail cherries.
By incorporating these foods into your diet, you can naturally help yourself regulate your sleep-wake cycles and improve your general quality of sleep. Just as there are foods that can help promote sleep, foods that can disrupt your slumber should also be avoided like caffeine, refined sugar and alcohol.