In a world of technology where cell phones, iPads, social media outlets and devices have become a vital part of our life, sleep problems abound and falling asleep at night can be difficult. From catching up on the news feed on Facebook and Instagram to status updates and uploading photos, nights are usually the time we choose while ignoring our body’s cry for sleep. You might not realize that you have now trained your mind to stay awake at that time.
Sleeping at night is crucial to good health. It rests your body and mind to prepare you for the next day. Sleep problems lead to a lack of sleep and insomnia which, in turn, can lead to a myriad of diseases including stress, weight gain and depression and it is also very important for normal functioning of your brain and heart.
Sleep is a complex physiological process that is made up of many stages. Sleep is also affected by many biological compounds and if you have tried every other thing to go to sleep, then it’s probably your diet that needs to change.
If you drink several cups of coffee throughout the day, then there’s a good chance you need to curb off caffeine intake, as effects of caffeine are known to last for about five to six hours before starting to wear off. Make sure you don’t drink coffee after noon.
Tryptophan is a sleeping aid as it is a compound that is known to be associated with feelings of sleepiness and shorter latency to fall asleep. Many vitamins and minerals also possess the ability to improve your sleep such as, calcium and magnesium. Calcium helps your body use tryptophan whereas, magnesium boosts sleepiness and also increases the duration of your sleep. By emphasizing consuming these minerals through your diet, you can get better sleep.
Here are 8 foods that can help you overcome sleep problems and help you sleep better:
Melatonin is naturally produced by your body when it starts to get dark but the good news is that you can eat foods that contain melatonin to help you feel sleepier. Walnuts are a healthy food that can make you fall asleep as they contain melatonin, which is known as the “body clock” hormone, regulating your sleep-wake cycles. Add walnuts to your list of sleeping aids.
Walnuts also contain the sleep promoting amino acid tryptophan, that in turn helps make serotonin and melatonin in your body. Research shows that walnuts contain their own source of melatonin, and help you fall asleep faster and sleep better and avoid insomnia. Walnuts also contain healthy fats and proteins that fill you up without eating a lot.
Make walnut consumption a part of your daily routine before going to bed. Snacking on walnuts an hour or two before bed will help you drift off to sleep in no time reducing sleep problems.
Another healthy food is almonds and they help you to relax your muscles and improve sleep. They are a rich source of magnesium, that helps in enhancing the quality of your sleep. Research shows that if you have low magnesium levels, you are more prone to sleep problems. Another research published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine also showed that if the body’s magnesium levels are too low, it makes it harder for you to stay asleep.
As almonds are rich in magnesium, they can not only bring your magnesium levels to normal but also make you sleep well. Just one ounce of almonds provides you with 75 mg of magnesium, which is almost 19% of your recommended daily intake. In addition to that, proteins in almonds can maintain your blood sugar while you’re asleep, enabling you to sleep more soundly and reduce sleep problems.
3. Green Leafy Veggies
Leafy green vegetables are famous as a healthy food and some of these, such as kale, spinach, turnip greens, and mustard greens are rich in sleep improving minerals, calcium and magnesium. These are a great addition to your sleeping aids. Having adequate levels of calcium helps your brain use tryptophan and produce melatonin.
High in magnesium, potassium and calcium, spinach can have a significant impact on your sleep patterns. Kale is also rich in magnesium and another good option when you get bored of eating spinach every day. Eat a different variety of salad everyday including dark leafy green vegetables for dinner and feel the difference.
Lettuce is another healthy food leafy green that works in a different way to help you sleep better. It contains lactucarium, that is known to have sedative properties and affects your brain in a very similar way as opium. Gently boil three to four large lettuce leaves in one cup of water for 10 to 15 minutes. Pour in a cup and then add two sprigs of mint. Drink this just before you go to bed.
4. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea has been prescribed for sleeping problems since ancient times. This herbal tea can promote sleepiness naturally and help you relax and avoid insomnia. According to research, chamomile tea can increase glycine, that can relax your nerves and muscles as well as act as a mild sedative. Chamomile can also help you relieve anxiety and stress, thereby contributing in improving sleep rather than tossing and turning the whole night.
A mug of warm, cozy chamomile tea after dinner, can raise and then drop the temperature of your body to promote feelings of sleepiness. You can also add milk for a tryptophan boost, but make sure you stay away from sugar.
Related: Harmful Effects of Staying Up Late
Most fish can help you sleep at night. Tuna, halibut, cod and salmon are high in vitamin B6 which stimulates your body to produce melatonin.
Salmon is also a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which according to a study published in the Journal of Sleep Research is linked to sounder sleep. Omega-3 fatty acids hold immense importance in brain health and development. Try to consume 3 to 6 ounces of salmon at least three times a week.
Cherries can extend the duration of sleep as well as improve the quality of sleep by allowing the body to release melatonin. It can also help you when you’re dealing with a bout of jet lag. Tart cherries specifically, are a natural source of melatonin and so they can directly regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Experts believe that melatonin and the anthocyanins in tart cherries are responsible for helping you sleep better at night.
A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food showed that subjects who drank cherry juice underwent significant improvement in their insomnia symptoms compared to those who consumed a placebo beverage.
Although drinking cherry juice is preferable, having a cup of cherries at night can also put you to sleep.
While oatmeal is a preferred as a healthy food for breakfast, surprisingly it can also help you snooze. Oatmeal can regulate your body clock as it is a source of melatonin, according to a study. In fact, some experts call this grain a natural Ambien. Not only is it the perfect before-bedtime snack but it also fills you up to put you to sleep easily.
Oatmeal is also a good source of magnesium and prolamines (plant proteins) such as, avenine and trigonelline. These proteins can reduce anxiety, nervousness and release stress that might have build up over the day preventing you from a deep, healthy sleep.
8. Warm Milk
It’s pretty common to give a child some warm milk to put them to bed, and there’s a good reason for that. Milk is rich in tryptophan that can induce sleepiness, combat insomnia and help you sleep better.
As far as warming it is concerned, any warm drink calms the body into sleepiness as it raises your body temperature and makes your body work to cool back down. This cooling down is what triggers sleepiness.
Milk also has a significant calcium, fat and Vitamin D content, all of which contributes in producing melatonin and giving you a better night’s sleep. Try sipping a cup before bed and relive those childhood memories!