Eating and drinking—for better sleep means more than just avoiding caffeine and heavy, heartburn-inducing foods at night. Certain foods and beverages could actually help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. Here are some things to put on your grocery list for more restful nights.
Eating—and drinking—for better sleep means more than just avoiding caffeine and heavy, heartburn-inducing foods at night. Certain foods and beverages could actually help you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly. Here are some things to put on your grocery list for more restful
Skip the white bread, refined pasta, and sugary, baked goods, which may reduce serotonin levels and impair sleep. Instead, choose stick-to-your-ribs whole grains for your bedtime snack: Popcorn, oatmeal, or whole-wheat crackers with nut butter are all good choices.
A Handful of Nuts
Nuts are a good source of heart-healthy fats. And almonds and walnuts, specifically, contain melatonin, a hormone that helps to regulate your sleep/wake cycle. Eating them can increase your blood levels of the hormone, helping you sleep more soundly.
Foods that are high in lean protein, like cottage cheese, also pack the amino acid tryptophan, which may increase serotonin levels. Serotonin is a brain chemical and low levels of it can contribute to insomnia. To sweeten it up, top the cottage cheese with raspberries, which are rich sources of melatonin.
A Cup of Bedtime Tea
A nightly cup of tea (sans caffeine, of course) can be a perfect relaxing ritual. Chamomile, ginger, and peppermint are calming choices for bedtime.
Scientifically, there may be some link between the tryptophan and melatonin content of milk and improved sleep. But perhaps more powerful is the psychological link between warm milk and bedtime as a child. Just like hot tea, a warm drink of milk can provide the perfect soothing backdrop for a relaxing bedtime routine.
Lavender Bedtime Milk: If you’re the evening-workout type, end your night with a warm cup of this. Not only do the vanilla, honey, and lavender make it super soothing, but the serotonin and healthy fats in the walnuts simultaneously replenish tired muscles while encouraging better sleep.
Hemp Peppermint Hot Chocolate: A hot, chocolaty cup of cocoa is comforting enough, but a few extra ingredients make it over-the-top cozy. With soothing peppermint oil, healthy fats from the cashew butter, and zero added sugar, it sets you up for a relaxing treat followed by an uninterrupted night of sweet dreams.
Vegan Pumpkin Spiced Bedtime Drink: Unlike 99.9 percent of pumpkin-spiced beverages in the world, this one actually has pumpkin in it—win! A few tablespoons of the puréed veggie go into the lightly sweetened, cinnamon-dusted steamer, which is also caffeine-free so that you’re not bouncing off the walls at midnight.
Spiced Ayurvedic Sleepytime Milk: If you haven’t yet hopped on board the turmeric train, your sleep-deprived state might give you a good reason to start (with this dairy-free drink). Thanks to a combination of anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties, it’s been shown to help with anxiety and promote better sleep. This is just further proof that the golden root is worth.
Certain fruits that contain melatonin may help you fall asleep faster and wake up less often during the night. For instance, tart cherry juice and whole tart cherries contain a lot of melatonin, and bananas, pineapple, and oranges are also sources. If you have insomnia, eating two kiwis before bed can increase your sleep duration by an hour over the course of a month. Other fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidants (like berries, prunes, raisins, and plums) may have a relaxing effect on your nervous system.
Bananas Bananas are loaded with potassium and magnesium. These compounds don’t just refuel your muscles post-workout—magnesium also serves as a natural sleep aid. A sleep expert told us he regularly makes banana tea, like a specialty sleep cocktail, since the peel has about 3x the magnesium as the fruit. Read all about it—and 14 other things you can do during the day to help you fall asleep faster at night—here.
Oatmeal A warm bowl of oatmeal can soothe you right to sleep: Whole grains, like oats, are naturally rich in the amino acid tryptophan, which your body uses to make serotonin (the feel-good hormone) and melatonin (the sleep hormone), according to the Whole Grains Council. You’ll feel your mood improve, and brain and body relax. This snack can also establish and maintain steady sleep cycles.
Omega-3-rich fish Fish, like cod, tuna, and halibut (even crustaceans like shrimp) are high in tryptophan. (Actually, all of this seafood has higher levels than turkey.) What’s more, salmon, mackerel, and other fatty fish can add sleep-aiding magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. Just be careful about what kind you chow down on—some fish aren’t sustainably raised or fished, and can be bad for your health.
This is a good place to start but by no means is the exhaustive list of foods that will get you a great nights sleep. Do your homework and find out what it takes for you to get a great nights sleep.
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