Trouble sleeping? The answer may be found in your diet! Our food choices, especially those closest to bedtime, directly impact our sleeping patterns--positively or negatively.
Here are some suggestions on the food and drink you can incorporate into your diet to help you catch some more ZZZs.
Snoozeenie's "Eat Well, Sleep Well" Diet
1. SLEEPY SUPPER
Fish (especially Tuna) - Many types of fish--tuna, salmon, swordfish--are high in the vitamin B6, which plays an important role in creating sleep-powerhouse melatonin and serotonin. These hormones are vital in regulating the body's circadian rhythms and ensuring healthy, restorative sleeping habits. Eating foods high in this vitamin can help sleep come easier.
Crab/Shrimp/Lobster - These crustaceans are jam-packed with tryptophan: an amino acid that is a precursor to melatonin and serotonin. Since tryptophan is an amino acid, the body can't produce it by itself; therefore, it is important to incorporate foods high in tryptophan into our diets. (Here is a list of other foods high in tryptophan.)
Jasmine Rice - In this study by the AJCN, researchers found that jasmine rice helped participants fall asleep faster. They suspect this is due to the food's high glycemic index which helped boost tryptophan levels.
Salad with Kale, Spinach & Lettuce - Both kale and spinach have high amounts of calcium, which helps in both relaxing the body and producing melatonin. Meanwhile, lettuce has lactucarium aka "lettuce opium." This curious fluid has sedative properties that can relax the mind and help you get to sleep faster.
2. LATE NIGHT SNACKS
Nuts (especially Walnuts & Almonds) - Walnuts and almonds are two other great sources of tryptophan. Additionally, almonds are full of magnesium, which is connected to improved sleep quality and the settling of the mind before bed. According to this study, magnesium helped combat insomnia in the elderly.
Whole-Grain Crackers with Hummus - Chickpeas, the primary ingredient in hummus, are a fantastic source of both tryptophan and vitamin b6. Pair hummus with some magnesium rich whole-grain crackers and you have one snooze-worthy snack!
Fruit Salad with Papaya, Pineapple, and Bananas - If you are craving something sweet before bed, a little fruit salad could do the trick. Papaya is high in lycopene (a heart-healthy antioxidant believed to aid in sleep) and vitamin C (low levels of this vitamin has been linked to poor sleep quality). Adding some pineapple, according to this publication, can raise your melatonin markers substantially. Finally, throw in some bananas for a huge boost in vitamin B6, magnesium and (!) potassium--talk about a superfruit!
3. DROWSY DRINKS
Tea with Honey - Sipping on some chamomile or lemon balm tea can ease you into a good night's rest. These teas help relax your nerves and muscles. For a bonus, add a smidge of honey: honey increases your insulin levels, which aids the use of tryptophan and lowers the alertness neurotransmitter orexin. (Note: make sure whatever tea you are drinking doesn't have any caffeine!)
Cherry Juice - Cherries are a fantastic natural source of good ole melatonin. A study at Louisiana State University revealed that drinking tart cherry juice twice a day can lead to an average of 90 more minutes of sleep a night!
Warm Glass of Milk - Yep, it's true: a warm glass of milk before bed can help you sleep. This is mainly due to the high amounts of calcium and superstar tryptophan.
4. NIGHTTIME NO-NOs
Caffeine - We know what most of you are thinking... Duh. But caffeine can sneak up on you in places you don't expect (Check out this list of surprising caffeine sources). Additionally, caffeine has a half life of 5-6 hours; this means that a late afternoon cup of joe can easily impact your bedtime. Be aware of your caffeine consumption to prevent restless nights.
Alcohol - We know what you're thinking... What about a nightcap?! Well, that bedtime beverage might be doing more harm than good. Check out our other blog post--Boozing and Snoozing--for more information on the impact of alcohol on your sleeping habits.
Eating Too Large a Meal (Especially Close to Bed) - Your metabolism goes into overdrive to digest a particularly large meal, making it difficult to fall asleep. In addition, if you are prone to heartburn or acid reflux, eating a large meal before bed can exacerbate these conditions and make it even harder to get to sleep. It's a good idea to stop eating around 3 hours before bed to give your body plenty of time to digest.
Eating Poorly All Day Long - When your body misses out on important vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants, it craves them and lets you know right before bedtime. Eating a well-rounded, healthy diet will have a positive impact on, not only your sleeping habits, but your overall wellness. Eat well, sleep well, live well!
What are some of your go-to nighttime snacks? Have you found that any of these work for you?