Sleep Better By Choosing The Right Foods
The body needs an opportunity to rest and recharge, which is why getting enough sleep is incredibly important for your overall health. Adequate sleep can help to lower your risk of developing chronic illness as well as keep both your brain and immune system healthy and strong. It’s recommended to get between 7 and 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night, yet many people struggle to get even closer to that.
Recent studies have revealed that in regards to diet, what you eat can impact how well you sleep as food choice may affect the hormones that regulate sleep duration and sleep quality. In choosing to indulge in healthier foods, you’ll not only reap the benefits of a healthy diet but you could finally relish a good nights’ rest.
Almonds are rich in various nutrients, particularly phosphorus, magnesium and the sleep hormone melatonin. The presence of both magnesium and melatonin in almonds is why many view these nuts as the perfect snack to relieve insomnia. Magnesium is known as a natural sedative as it helps to relax both body and mind by reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol. According to one animal study published in the Journal of Natural Medicines, rats that consumed 400 mg of almond extract slept longer and more deeply than they did without consuming the extract. More extensive, human-centred research is needed, but it wouldn’t hurt to enjoy a few almonds before bed.
2. Chamomile tea
Chamomile tea is a popular tea and for good reason.
Aside from helping to boost your health through its rich nutrients and antioxidant content, chamomile tea may help to improve sleep quality. Chamomile tea contains antioxidant apigenin which, studies have revealed, may help promote sleepiness and reduce insomnia. Enjoying a cup of chamomile tea before going to bed is certainly the way to go if you’re looking for a restful sleep.
3. Kiwi fruit
Aside from being rich in vitamin C and vitamin K, kiwis are a good source of serotonin, which studies have suggested encourages the secretion of melatonin. One study found that adults with sleep problems who ate two medium-sized kiwi fruits an hour before bedtime fell asleep more quickly and soundly than when they didn’t eat anything before bedtime.
Enjoying fatty fish, like salmon, at least once a week may help to improve sleep quality. The content of omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish is extremely high and one fatty acid in particular called DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), has been shown to help regulate the production of melatonin. Furthermore, said fish also contain vitamin B6, which is a nutrient that helps convert tryptophan to melatonin. Vitamin D can also be found in fatty fish and studies have shown that the combination of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D may help enhance sleep quality, as both have been shown to increase the production of serotonin. More studies are needed to make a final decision about the ability of fatty fish to improve rest but it wouldn’t hurt to enjoy salmon for dinner.
5. Tart cherry juice
Made from sour cherries, tart cherry juice may help bring a good night’s sleep, thanks to it being a natural food source of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin. Melatonin helps to regulate your internal clock and it also signals your body to prepare for sleep.
According to studies, drinking a cup of tart cherry juice twice a day brought some form of relief in the severity of your insomnia. Tart cherry juice is also rich in vitamin A, vitamin C and antioxidants which can all help to protect your cells from free radicals. Although more extensive research is still needed to confirm the role of tart cherry juice in improving sleep quality, drinking some before bed is certainly worth a try.
Yogurts and other dairy products like milk and Parmesan cheese are excellent sources of amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is needed to synthesize the sleep-regulating brain chemical serotonin, which has been linked to an increase in the secretion of melatonin. According to studies, the increased dietary consumption of foods that contain tryptophan can help improve sleep quality.
Pre-bedtime habits for better sleep
Aside from examining your diet, there are other lifestyle changes you can make in order to improve your sleep
- Avoid stimulants
Stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, sugar and refined foods may provide an energy boost, but that does little for you in the long run. Consuming too much added sugar can affect sleep quality by upsetting the body’s’ natural clock.
- Switch off devices
Switching off your devices before bed and avoiding all forms of social media whilst in bed can help you fall asleep faster. The blue light emitted from our digital screens stimulates our brains, keeping us awake when all we need to do is rest. Try turning off your phone one hour before your usual bed-time.
- Follow a sleep schedule
Going to bed at the same time every night will result in your body naturally adjusting. When this happens, you’ll begin to feel tired at just the right time each day which can help you fall asleep much quicker.
With the right diet and a more mindful approach to your sleep patterns, there’s no reason as to why you’d spend your night counting sheep. Click here to find out more about the aforementioned studies.
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