Eating for Better Sleep
Sleep is so incredibly important to your overall health. It plays a role in keeping your brain and digestive system healthy, boosts your immune system, and may even lower your risk of developing certain chronic illnesses and diseases. Yet, for many of us, getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of good quality sleep each night can be difficult and sometimes feel impossible. There are many strategies and sleep aids out there that may promote better sleep, and one of those is changes to your diet, specifically what you snack on an hour or two before going to bed.
Here are some foods that have been shown to decrease the time it takes to fall asleep and to enhance the overall quality of sleep, thanks to their content of sleep-regulating hormones and brain chemicals.
Almonds are a good source of the sleep-regulating hormone, melatonin, and the sleep-promoting
mineral, magnesium. Magnesium may help reduce levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which
can interrupt sleep. This is one of my favourites - I try to eat a few almonds every night an hour or two before going to bed.
Tart Cherry Juice
Due to its high content of melatonin, tart cherry juice may help promote good quality sleep by helping your body to regulate its internal clock and prepare for sleep.
Kiwis are rich in serotonin, a brain chemical that helps regulate your sleep cycle, and antioxidants including vitamin C and carotenoids, both of which have been shown to improve the quality of sleep when consumed close to bed time.
Bananas contain tryptophan, an amino acid that increases the production of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin, as well as magnesium, both of which may help improve quality of sleep.
That tired feeling you experience after Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner may definitely be due to the turkey you just ate. Turkey contains tryptophan and protein, both of which contribute to better sleep quality.
Chamomile and passionflower teas both contain the antioxidant apigenin, which binds to certain receptors in the brain that may increase sleepiness, reduce insomnia, and improve overall sleep quality.
Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel and trout are rich in both healthy omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, the combination of which may improve sleep quality as both have been shown to increase the production of serotonin.
Cottage cheese is high in lean protein and tryptophan, which may increase serotonin levels leading to improved sleep quality. To add some sweetness, top with raspberries, a good source of melatonin, which will also contribute to better sleep.
If you occasionally have trouble falling or staying asleep, give some of these foods a try an hour or two before bedtime for a couple of weeks to see if your sleep quality improves. However, if you suffer from constant sleep struggles and frequently experience insomnia, consult with your doctor first.