10 Foods That Can Help You Sleep
The Dalai Lama says "sleep is the best meditation." And he should know. Leonardo Da Vinci, a genius in many ways, said, "a well-spent day brings happy sleep." But what if it's not that easy? (See also: 5 Effective Sleep Tips)
Often, what we eat and drink during the day can have an adverse affect. Instead of filling your days with coffee and other stimulants, maybe you should look to food and drink as a way to help you sleep better, and thus, not need that caffeine jolt every morning.
Here are 10 options to consider.
1. Tart Cherry Juice
The juice of tart cherries is rich in melatonin, which aids sleep. A study at Britain's Northumbria University saw that adults with chronic insomnia experienced some relief by drinking a cup of tart cherry juice twice a day. One serving of cherry juice contains the juice from 90-100 cherries, a powerful sleep-inducing cocktail.
The curvy yellow wonder tops many lists when it comes to food sleep-aids. Magnesium and potassium in bananas serve as muscle and nerve relaxants. The B6 found in fruit also converts tryptophan into serotonin and melatonin, increasing relaxation even more. Try this easy bedtime smoothie — one banana and one cup of milk or almond milk (a really great choice, see number 3). Ice if desired. Blend.
These nuts are winners when it comes to foods to aid sleep. Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, author of The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution says, "Almonds contain magnesium, which promote sleep and muscle relaxation. They have the added benefit of supplying proteins to help maintain stable blood sugar level while sleeping, and promote sleep by switching from your alert adrenaline cycle to your rest-and-digest cycle." One tablespoon of almond butter or marzipan, or a one ounce portion of almonds (20-24 almonds) taken before bed, is a great way to get your body to relax. (See also: The Best and Worst Nuts)
4. Yogurt, Cheese, and Dairy
Calcium is directly related to our sleep cycles and is plentiful in dairy products. In one study, calcium levels in the body were shown to be higher in the deepest levels of sleep, such as REM (Rapid Eye Movement). The study concluded that disturbances in sleep are often related to a calcium deficiency. (See also: 8 Great Ways to Get Calcium)
Chronic insomnia is also one of the main central symptoms of magnesium deficiency; sleep can be agitated with frequent awakenings. A balance of magnesium and calcium is crucial to sleep function, and yogurt and other dairy foods contain these, along with tryptophan. That glass of warm milk given to you before bed as a kid…that's proven to give you that sleepy feeling.
5. Parmesan Cheese Popcorn
Two magic sleep ingredients come from this delicious snack — carbs and dairy. As mentioned before, dairy products aid sleep due to the tryptophan, a precursor to a sleep inducing hormone, along with the magnesium and calcium. This sprinkled over the carbohydrates in popcorn help your brain absorb the tryptophan better. Using the parmesan to flavor it, so you can avoid excess fat and butter, make it a wonderful late-night snack. Just brush your teeth after.
It may seem like a strange addition to this list, but it's perfectly suited. Dried seaweed is bursting with melatonin and at just 10 calories per sheet, it's a worry-free choice if you're watching late night eating. Happy dreams.
7. Miso Soup
Who doesn't love a simple, tasty soup? Miso soup, however, has some secret ingredients to aid sleep. Namely, those wonderful amino acids, like tryptophan, which naturally increase the production of melatonin.
It's not just for breakfast. Along with that warm, soothing feeling it gives you, oatmeal is a serious sleep aid. It's rich in calcium, magnesium, and potassium, ideal for relaxing the body and the nerves. Go easy on the sweeteners to avoid an adverse reaction, and top with fruit, such as banana slices, and a splash of milk. "Grains in oatmeal trigger insulin production, raising your blood sugar naturally and make you feel sleepy. Oats are also rich in melatonin, which relax the body," according to Cynthia Pasquella – CCN, CHLC, CWC.
9. Sweet Potatoes
Now popular as an alternative to traditional potato fries, they are high in potassium, which is great for relaxing muscles. As a sweet potato is also a complex carbohydrate, the body digests it slowly, releasing body-repairing energy. It doesn't cause a significant rise in blood sugar and it's easy on your digestive system. Roasted sweet potatoes can also help clear acid from your body, those that stop tryptophan from being as effective as it could be. (See also: Sensational Sweet Potato Recipes)
10. Kale Chips
If you are one to want a snack at night, like popcorn or chips, then kale chips could be just what you're looking for. Green leafy vegetables, like kale, contain a hefty dose of calcium. Baked kale chips make a crunchy, salty snack. The addition of apple cider vinegar, that some swear a tablespoon of alone helps promote sleep, adds more flavor. Season with a little coarse ground salt.
So there we have it. Ten foods you should consider adding to your diet to help you get a good night's sleep. Of course, avoiding a lot of caffeine and sugar during the day also lets these natural sleep-aids do their job better.
Do you have a surefire food or drink to help you get to sleep more easily? Let us know.