Trouble sleeping? Yeah, I thought so. Chances are that you’re not getting enough sleep, having trouble nodding off, struggling with nighttime wakings or some combination.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) calls insufficient sleep a public health epidemic. Lack of sleep, it says, is linked to motor vehicle accidents, industrial disasters and medical and other occupational errors. Sleep deprivation causes the brain to slow down, leading to confusion, and can even increase chances of engaging in risky behaviors.
Those facts spurred the Better Sleep Council to survey a sample of U.S. adults. Its findings? Although Americans know that they’re sleep deprived, they’re not doing much to change it.
And in another survey, it found that six in 10 Americans crave sleep more than sex with some even admitting to falling asleep during sex! Other places and situations where people find themselves in the embarrassing situation of nodding off: work, schools, cars (as a passenger and a driver), movie theaters, bars and parties.
While there are many things you can do keeping your bedroom cool or getting plenty of exercise (but not too close to bedtime), for instance there are also many foods you can eat that can help your slumber.
Adding these foods to your diet may help to increase your odds of a successful slumber.
Some people have trouble falling asleep. Others can’t stay asleep. And then there are the people who have trouble turning life “off” and tucking into bed at a reasonable hour.
Whatever the reason, we’re not alone more than 50 million Americans don’t get enough shut-eye. Yet the health benefits of a good night’s rest are countless: sleep helps keep you happy, your brain sharp, your immune system strong, your waistline trim, your skin looking youthful and lowers your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
Here’s the good news: Adding these foods to your diet may help to increase your odds of a successful slumber.
More delicious foods that will help you sleep better
Most fish—and especially salmon, halibut and tuna boast vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness), according to an article published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.
Walnuts are a good source of tryptophan, a sleep-enhancing amino acid that helps make serotonin and melatonin, the “body clock” hormone that sets your sleep-wake cycles. Additionally, University of Texas researchers found that walnuts contain their own source of melatonin, which may help you fall asleep faster.
Almonds are rich in magnesium, a mineral needed for quality sleep (and also a known headache remedy). A study published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine found that when the body’s magnesium levels are too low, it makes it harder to stay asleep.
When healthy sleepers ate carbohydrate-rich suppers of veggies and tomato sauce over rice, they fell asleep significantly faster at bedtime if the meal included high glycemic index (GI) jasmine rice rather than lower-GI long-grain rice, in a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
While the authors aren’t sure how it happened, they speculated that the greater amounts of insulin triggered by the high-GI meals increased the ratio of sleep-inducing tryptophan relative to other amino acids in the blood, allowing proportionately more to get into the brain.
Cheese and crackers
Old wives’ tales suggest that warm milk can make you sleepy, but the truth is any dairy product can help. Calcium (found in cheese, yogurt, milk, and these surprising sources) helps the brain use the tryptophan found in dairy to manufacture sleep-triggering melatonin. Additionally, calcium helps regulate muscle movements.
A salad with dinner could speed up your bedtime since lettuce contains lactucarium, which has sedative properties and affects the brain similarly to opium. You can also try this brew from the book Stealth Health: Simmer three to four large lettuce leaves in a cup of water for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, add two sprigs of mint, and sip just before you go to bed.
Tart Cherry Juice
In a small study, melatonin-rich tart cherry juice was shown to aid sleep. When adults with chronic insomnia drank a cup of tart cherry juice twice a day they experienced some relief in the severity of their insomnia.
Foods like pretzels and corn chips have a high glycemic index. After eating them you’ll have a natural spike in your blood sugar and insulin levels, shortening the time it takes you to fall asleep. Normally, you want steady levels to avoid mood swings and insulin resistance. But if you are looking to get rest, the blood sugar and insulin increase helps tryptophan enter your brain to bring on sleep.
Fish such as tuna, halibut, and salmon are high in vitamin B6, which your body needs to make melatonin and serotonin. Other foods high in B6 include raw garlic and pistachio nuts.
Dairy products like yogurt and milk boast healthy doses of calcium and there’s research that suggests being calcium-deficient may make it difficult to fall asleep.
A glass of cherry juice could make you fall asleep faster, according to researchers from the Universities of Pennsylvania and Rochester. Cherries, particularly tart cherries, naturally boost levels of melatonin. In the study, subjects who drank cherry juice experienced some improvement in their insomnia symptoms compared to those who drank a placebo beverage.
A bowl of your favorite flakes before bed could help you get better sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. The snack combines two components for getting some carbohydrates (from the cereal) and calcium (from the milk).
Bulgur, barley and other whole grains are rick in magnesium and consuming too little magnesium may make it harder to stay asleep, reported the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine.
Steeping a cup of stress-busting chamomile tea will help you sleep. According to researchers, drinking the tea is associated with an increase of glycine, a chemical that relaxes nerves and muscles and acts like a mild sedative.
An Australian study found that drinking a cup of passionfruit tea one hour before bed helped people sleep more soundly. Researchers believe that Harman alkaloids chemicals found in high levels in the flower—act on your nervous system to make you tired.
Dairy products are well-known calcium-rich foods. But green leafy vegetables, such as kale and collards, also boast healthy doses of calcium. And research suggests that being calcium deficient may make it difficult to fall asleep.
Bananas, well-known for being rich in potassium, are also a good source of Vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness), according to an article published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.
The natural sugar found in honey slightly raises insulin and allows tryptophan to enter the brain more easily, according to nutritionist Lindsey. A spoonful before bed or mixed with chamomile tea could give you a more restful sleep.
Green leafy vegetables like kale are loaded with calcium, which helps the brain use tryptophan to manufacture melatonin. Spinach and mustard greens are other good options.
Chickpeas boast vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness), according to an article published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.
Chickpeas are also a good source of tryptophan, so a light lunch of hummus and whole-grain crackers (to help the tryptophan reach the brain), could be a good way to head into an afternoon nap.
Fortified cereals also boast vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness), according to an article published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.
Shrimp and Lobster
Another good source of tryptophan, crustaceans like shrimp or lobster may bring on an easier sleep.
This game meat has nearly twice more tryptophan than turkey breast, meaning you’re much more likely to nod off after eating it, especially with a side of carbohydrates to help the tryptophan reach the brain.
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