Most of us know that we should avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime because both can interfere with the quality of sleep. But are there foods that help you sleep? According to Dr. Michael J. Breus, Certified Sleep Specialist, the answer to that question is yes! From cherries to oatmeal to warm milk, here are six foods and beverages that can help you get more shut eye tonight.
1) Cherries – According to a study reported in the Journal of Experimental Botany, cherries are a natural source of melatonin, which is often referred to as the “sleep hormone” because it helps control your body’s internal clock needed to regulate sleep. While fresh cherries are only in season (and thus less expensive) for about two months of the year (June and July), tart cherry juice and dried cherries are excellent substitutes when purchasing fresh cherries tends to break the bank. According to Dr. Oz, montmorency tart cherries have six times the melatonin content than a normal cherry, so look for those for the most benefit.
2) Milk – This tried and true beverage has been advised for years as a means to help those who have trouble falling asleep. As a source of calcium, milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that can have a sedative effect, says Donald Hensrud, chair of the division of preventive medicine at the Mayo Clinic. Tryptophan converts to serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter relaxant. For best results, warm the milk before drinking. Another tip, as advised by a study published in the The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, is to combine milk with a low-protein, high-carbohydrate food, such as toast or cereal with milk.
3) Bananas – Not only are bananas chock-full of potassium, but they also contain magnesium. Both of these nutrients contain the added benefit of acting like a muscle relaxant. Bananas also contain tryptophan, making this delicious fruit a great sleep-promoting snack.
4) Greek Yogurt – Another food in the calcium family, the melatonin in greek yogurt helps in sleep regulation. Avoid the overly sugary selections of greek yogurt, however. Pair it with some granola, honey, or almonds for the best sleep-inducing combination.
5) Oatmeal – There’s no doubt about it — oatmeal is a powerhouse food. Just one serving provides a multitude of nutrients, including calcium, potassium, and magnesium — all of which are sleep-friendly ingredients. Oatmeal is also a complex carbohydrate, and is also rich in vitamin B6, a stress-fighting vitamin. Oatmeal (the Scottish variety) is third on Dr. Oz’s list of foods that help promote deep sleep.
6) Chamomile Tea – Drinking chamomile tea is a natural sleep remedy. Chamomile tea is a herbal tea, without the sleep-robbing caffeine contained in many traditional teas. It’s thought to have a calming effect on the body and mind. Like drinking warm milk, drinking a warm liquid before bedtime raises your body’s core internal temperature, which is effective in promoting sleep in some people.
Besides making your bedroom conducive to sleeping (comfortable mattress, restful bedroom colors) and keeping a healthy sleep routine, eating foods that help you sleep can be nature’s very own sleeping pill.
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