There are many tips and tricks that you can try to help you get to sleep every night. One of the most underrated sleep hygiene practices that really go far in improving quality slumber is making the right dietary choices. That’s right. Catching up on your sleep may be as easy as tweaking your diet. According to experts, if you fix your diet, you might improve your sleep too. Fortunately, there are many ways to promote good sleep, including modifying your diet, as some foods and drinks have sleep-promoting properties, and others can keep you awake at night.
If you eat sleep-inducing food items at the right time, there may be a lot less tossing and turning in your future.
The Best Foods for Sleep
Scientists and nutritionists agree that you should eat foods that help you sleep and fight insomnia. There are four essential minerals and vitamins that can be found in food that aid in promoting sleep: B6, tryptophan, calcium, and magnesium. Some of these substances help the body make the hormone responsible for regulating your circadian rhythm (sleep and wake patterns) melatonin.
Your body naturally increases the production of melatonin when you are close to bedtime. The opposite happens in the morning when it’s time to wake up, and melatonin production tapers off. This is part of the natural cycle that allows you to be awake and alert during the day.
Lucky for us, some foods are naturally packed with these essential minerals and vitamins. Eating some of these foods at certain times can help you tip the scales toward a good night of quality sleep. Most of these foods are widely available as over-the-counter supplements. As with most supplements, it’s best to get them from the foods you eat.
What can you eat before bed to help you sleep?
Increasing dietary consumption of melatonin-rich foods can be an excellent option to help you sleep. Studies have shown that eating melatonin-containing food may have positive health benefits by increasing melatonin levels.
Eat melatonin rich foods for better sleep.
Your body needs melatonin for sleep. Melatonin is the hormone that works together with your body’s circadian rhythm, your internal clock that tells your brain when it’s time to wake and sleep. As it gets dark, melatonin levels begin to rise in your body. Eating melatonin-rich foods or taking a melatonin supplement can help you fall asleep.
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Here are some excellent sources of naturally occurring melatonin-rich foods:
- Nuts and Seeds (mustard seeds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, walnuts, flaxseed)
- Grains (rice, rolled oats, barley)
- Fruits and vegetables (corn, cucumber, tart cherries, tomatoes, pomegranate, olives, asparagus, grapes, broccoli)
How tryptophan-rich foods help you sleep?
Drinking warm milk before bed to help you sleep is no myth. Milk has the power to send us off to dreamland. Dairy contains a sleep-promoting substance called tryptophan. A few examples of foods that are rich in tryptophan are eggs, nuts, honey, and seeds.
Tryptophan is a critical amino acid for sleep. When you ingest this amino acid, it is converted into the neurotransmitter serotonin and then turned into the hormone melatonin.
Here is a list of healthy tryptophan-rich foods:
- Vegetables (turnip greens, seaweed, broccoli, asparagus, onions, spinach)
- Legumes (chickpeas, lima beans, split peas, kidney beans)
- Fruits (peaches, bananas, apples, avocado)
- Grains (oats, rice, barley, wheat, corn)
- Seafood (salmon, halibut, shrimp, cod, sardines)
- Poultry (chicken, turkey, duck)
- Dairy products (cheese, yogurt, milk)
- Nuts (cashews, almonds, walnuts)
- Seeds (sesame, sunflower, flax, pumpkin)
Calcium-Rich Foods for Improved Sleep
Calcium is a mineral that helps your brain produce melatonin. The lack of calcium or low levels of calcium can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night. Insufficient calcium levels can make it difficult for you to fall asleep too. Studies have shown that calcium-rich diets can help people with insomnia. Dairy products offer a double whammy for sleep because they contain calcium and tryptophan.
Sleep inducing, calcium-rich foods include:
- Green snap peas
- Fortified cereals
- Enriched grains
- Fortified orange juice
- Enriched bread products
- Dark leafy greens
Magnesium-rich foods help you sleep.
Some of the best foods for sleep are rich in magnesium. It is frequently referred to as the sleep mineral. Magnesium is an instrumental mineral for sleep, and it is also a natural relaxant that helps deactivate adrenaline in your body. Low levels of magnesium can be directly linked to difficulty going to sleep and staying asleep.
The following are some of the best magnesium-rich foods to eat before bed:
- Fish (mackerel, halibut, tuna, salmon)
- Nuts (brazil nuts, walnuts, almonds)
- Dark leafy greens (collard greens, baby spinach, kale)
- Seeds (sunflower seeds)
- Wheat germ
- Low-fat yogurt
Foods with B6 help you sleep through the night.
The B6 vitamin helps to turn tryptophan into melatonin. A deficiency in this critical vitamin has been linked with decreased serotonin levels and sleep problems. The lack of B6 vitamin is also linked to symptoms of mood disorders and depression, both of which can cause insomnia.
Food items with the highest source of B6 vitamin are:
- Fish (salmon, halibut, tuna)
- Pistachio nuts
- Meat (pork, beef, chicken)
Which foods can help you sleep?
If you have insomnia, a small snack may aid in falling asleep. You can eat foods to help you sleep, but keep the snack small. Eating a large meal shortly before bedtime will load your digestive system, making it difficult for you to fall asleep.
Some of the best foods to enhance slumber are tryptophan-rich foods such as dairy, seeds, eggs, honey, and bananas. For certain people, having some food in their stomach may help them sleep. Foods rich in carbohydrates may also help you sleep. Milk, a bowl of cereal, cheese with bread, and crackers make an excellent late-night snack.
What should I eat for dinner to sleep better?
Even though a big meal will make you feel temporarily drowsy, it doesn’t mean that eating a big dinner will help you sleep. Too much food before bedtime will interfere with a good night’s sleep. A small meal or a snack in the evening should help you get instant sleep. Try to consume no more than 500 calories as the last meal of the day.
Do bananas help you sleep?
Bananas contain potassium and magnesium, which help relax your over-stressed muscles. They are also loaded with tryptophan to stimulate the production of critical brain calming hormones. Bananas are the perfect snack before bedtime. You can eat bananas whole or whizz into a sleep-inducing milkshake.
Do cherries make you sleepy?
Cherries have naturally sleep-inducing characteristics. The fruit is high in melatonin, which controls sleep and wake rhythms. When you eat cherries, you send an extra dose of melatonin to your body, signaling bedtime. If they are in season, eating fresh cherries, or drinking cherry juice other times of the year, might help you sleep easier.
Which drinks help you sleep?
Some drinks, such as cherry juice or herbal teas, may help you fall asleep faster.
Here are some of the best, sleep-inducing drinks:
- Passionflower tea
- Decaffeinated green tea
- Valerian tea
- Lavender tea
- Chamomile tea
- Almond milk
- Lemon balm tea
- Cherry juice
- Magnolia bark tea
Can what you drink influence your level of calm?
Many factors cause anxiety, and unfortunately, there is no silver bullet cure. But, according to research, certain medicinal flowers and foods can help promote feelings of calm and relaxation. Here are various foods and beverages that may help you relax and calm down:
- If you want to calm your mind and ease your body, drink peppermint tea. The menthol in peppermint tea is known as a natural muscle relaxant. A bonus of peppermint tea is that it is naturally caffeine-free.
- Dark chocolate and other palatable foods can boost the stimulation of the reward center of your brain by increasing the release of dopamine. Look for low sugar dark chocolates.
- Foods high in alpha-linolenic acid such as walnuts can serve as mood boosters and may mitigate symptoms of depression.
- Raw foods and vegetables can lead to positive moods and reduce depression. The top raw foods to help you minimize stress are apples, bananas, dark leafy greens such as spinach, carrots, grapefruit, citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, fresh berries, and lettuce.
- Eat foods high in vitamin C to reduce symptoms of anxiety.
- Yogurt and other fermented foods may help decrease the effects of anxiety. Remember that cooking fermented foods kills the probiotics and microbes that are so good for you.
- Tart cherries are high in melatonin. According to a study by the Center for Functional Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, cherry juice increases sleep time for people 50 and older, suffering from insomnia.
- Oatmeal and other whole grains may promote feelings of calm. It is believed that whole grains boost the amount of serotonin in your brain, increasing feelings of serenity. Whole grains are also an excellent source of dietary fiber.
- Fish and seafood rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as black cod, salmon, mackerel, oysters, rainbow trout, and anchovies.
- Squash and pumpkin seeds are excellent sources of magnesium. Eating these kinds of seeds can decrease excitability in the brain because they can boost magnesium levels of the body.
- Dairy products can boost vitamin D in your body. Research suggests that there is a link between depression and vitamin D deficiency. Consequently, consuming vitamin D fortified milk products may boost your mood.
What foods keep you awake at night?
For a good night’s sleep, there are various foods to avoid before bed.
Limit high-fat foods to avoid activating your digestion. According to research, high-fat foods not only cause weight gain, but they can also disrupt your sleep cycle. It’s no secret that too much coffee or consuming coffee at night can disrupt your sleep. Avoid caffeine 4-6 hours before your regular bedtime. Keep in mind that even decaf coffee has traces of caffeine. Coffee is not the only source of caffeine in our diet. Avoid less prominent sources of caffeine such as tea, chocolate, cola.
What drinks to avoid for a good night’s sleep?
Some drinks can seriously hurt your sleep, such as coffee, sugary drinks, and all caffeinated beverages.
If you want a good night’s sleep, avoid foods that prevent sleep.