Getting quality sleep is essential to your overall health. It can help to keep your digestion and brain healthy, decreases your risk of developing certain chronic conditions, and boosts your immune system. Sleep experts recommend you get around seven to nine hours of quality sleep every night, but many individuals struggle to get the sleep their bodies need.
You can utilize various tricks of the trade to promote quality sleep ― and changing your diet is one of them, since some types of food have sleep-promoting properties. Most people have bedtime cravings. If you're one of these people, and are going to eat in the evening anyway, why not eat foods suited for healthy, restful sleep?
While many foods contain low concentrations of sleep-promoting compounds, some have high levels that could potentially affect your sleep cycle positively. This is because certain chemicals, hormones, nutrients, enzymes and amino acids work in combination to regulate the sleep cycle and promote good sleep.
Here are 10 of the best sleep-promoting foods you can eat before going to bed.
Kiwi’s have been shown by studies to improve sleep quality, and are a great food to eat before going to bed.
In one study, 24 individuals ate two kiwifruits an hour before they went to bed each night. Upon completion of the four-week study, the participants fell asleep 42 percent faster than when they didn't consume anything before they went to bed.
Their quality of sleep improved by 5 percent, allowing them to sleep through the night, and their total sleep showed a 13 percent increase.
Kiwis's sleep-promoting effects are believed to be due to their serotonin content — a chemical in the brain that helps with regulating your sleep cycle.
Also suggested is kiwis contain antioxidants like carotenoids and vitamin C, which could be partly responsible for the sleep-promoting effects of this fruit, possibly due to their role in inflammation reduction.
Eat a relaxing bowl of oatmeal before bed. Oats contribute to the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. They're also loaded with magnesium and B vitamins.
For an extra relaxing treat, add in some warm milk, which contains tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that is converted into the 5-HTP molecule, which then forms serotonin. After tryptophan produces serotonin in your body, it can then convert into melatonin (a body internal clock-controlling chemical).
Whether you eat almonds as they are, or in the form of almond butter, they're a great late night snack. Almonds contain magnesium and tryptophan — both help your muscles relax as you wind down for the evening.
Cherries are a natural food that contains melatonin. A study found consuming tart cherry juice induced small improvements in sleep quality and duration in older adults suffering from chronic bouts of insomnia.
5. Cottage Cheese
Cottage cheese is high in lean protein, and loaded with tryptophan, so it can help to raise your serotonin levels. Low levels of serotonin can lead to insomnia. You can also top your cottage cheese with delicious raspberries, which also provide you with a rich source of melatonin.
6. Warm Milk
There could be an association between the melatonin and tryptophan content in milk and sleep improvement. However, it's likely there's a psychological tie associated between bedtime as a child and warm milk. Like with hot tea, a glass of warm milk can offer the perfect soothing setting for a relaxing bedtime routine.
You can speed up your bedtime by eating a salad with your dinner. This is because lettuce contains lactucarium. Lactucarium has sedative properties, which affect your brain similarly to opium.
Figs are loaded with magnesium, potassium, iron, and calcium. These minerals help with muscle contraction and blood flow — essential for falling asleep.
9. Herbal Teas
This may come as no surprise, but herbal teas have a lot of sleep-promoting properties. One popular herbal tea, Chamomile tea, is great for calming your nerves before its time for bed. It's also stomach-soothing and hydrating, much like ginger tea.
Hummus comes from chickpeas, which are packed with tryptophan and vitamin B6. While you shouldn't indulge in the spicy kind before bedtime, plain hummus with some whole wheat crackers would make the perfect bedtime snack.
The above are ten healthy foods that can promote better sleep. Want more ideas? Try turkey, walnuts, and fatty fish, too. In addition, your doctor, nutritionist, or dietician might have specific recommendations for you. The key is to find the foods that you enjoy and work for you.
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