It’s not called beauty sleep for nothing, so getting 7-8 hours nightly is a must for everyone. You need sleep for your body to rejuvenate, repair and relax. There are plenty of reasons why you might not be getting a good night’s sleep. There are various ways to address the problem and one of them is by choosing foods that will naturally help generate the need for sleep.
Walnuts are a great example of foods that help you sleep. They are a food source that are particularly rich in tryptophan, which is an amino acid that encourages sleep by producing melatonin and serotonin, hormones that help to regulate your natural body clock. The University of Texas conducted a full research project on walnuts and found that they did indeed help their subject to fall asleep faster.
2. Cheese & Crackers
Though warm milk has always been the traditional suggestion for bedtime, it is actually cheese (or any other dairy product, in fact) that does the trick. The calcium that is found in all dairy products like cheese, milk and yoghurt helps the brain to utilise the tryptophan that is contained within, and it also helps to regulate muscle movement so you won’t feel twitchy in bed.
Almonds are a great snack for helping to get to sleep because they are really rich in magnesium. Magnesium is one of the key elements within the body that encourages natural sleeping rhythms and tiredness, and recent studies have found that people whose magnesium levels are too low have a much harder time trying to stay asleep.
Most people would not think of preparing a salad just before bedtime, but lettuce contains high levels of something called lactucarium, which boasts effective sedative properties that have been described as working on the brain in a similar way to opium! A good bedtime suggestion is to simmer two or three large lettuce leaves in a cup of water for 10 minutes, add some mint and sip just before you go to bed.
Tuna is a great source of vitamin B6, which your body really needs to be able to effectively make serotonin and melatonin. If you really wanted to boost your B6 levels as much as possible, try combining your tuna in a dish that has some raw garlic in it. You may not have the nicest smelling breath but you will certainly be sleeping like a baby before you have even started to count sheep!
6. Cherry Juice
If you don’t fancy having to actually eat a snack or meal right before bedtime, then maybe cherry juice is the option for you. Drinking a glass of the fruity drink before you retire to the bedroom will help to boost your levels of melatonin. The Universities of Rochester and Pennsylvania conducted experiments that proved that even sufferers of serious insomnia began to see a benefit in their nighttime habits from drinking cherry juice.
Rice, specifically white rice, has a particularly high glycemic index, which means that eating a bowl in the evening will significantly decrease the amount of time that will be needed for you to fall asleep. According to a study undertaken in Australia, jasmine rice is especially effective when it comes to encouraging sleep, as it was found that when pitted against other varieties of rice, subjects who ate the jasmine kind fell asleep at a much quicker rate than any other.
Did you know a bowl of your favourite flakes just before you crash at night would make it easier to fall asleep? That is mainly due to the presence of calcium and carbohydrates in cereal (and milk).
9. Herbal Teas
Drinking a cup of passion fruit tea, or chamomile tea for that matter, will help you sleep better. Chamomile is great because it increases the amount of chemical called glycine that relaxes your muscles and improves your sleep quality. Similarly, a cup of passion fruit tea will be loaded with harman alkaloids that relax your nervous system and act as a mild sedative.
10. Lobster and Shrimp
Tryptophan encourages the production of melatonin and serotonin and is responsible for making it easier for you to fall asleep, and crustaceans like lobster or shrimp are a great source of this amino acid. So, eat shrimp or lobster to improve your sleep quality.
Chickpeas are a rich source of tryptophan, which makes a light lunch of whole grain crackers and hummus a great choice to head into an afternoon nap. If you are going to snack before bed, hummus and some veggies is a good idea.
Enjoying a spoonful of honey just before you go to bed will work by raising your insulin level a bit, which in turn will make it easier for tryptophan to enter your brain and create a sedative effect. If you don’t like to eat honey neat, stir it into a cup of herbal tea, or make your own bedtime soother from hot water, honey and lemon juice.
Green leafy veggies are a great source of calcium and kale is no different. If you're calcium deficient, you will have a hard time falling asleep. Your brain needs calcium to use tryptophan and make melatonin. Simply add kale and other leafy vegetables to your diet to meet your recommended calcium requirements – and enjoy all the other great benefits of eating kale too.
You may have already gathered how important tryptophan is to falling asleep quickly. You don't find it only in green veggies, walnuts and crustaceans, but game meat like elk is just another perfect source of this sleep-inducing amino acid. Add it to your diet with something that provides you with carbohydrates to ensure the tryptophan reaches your brain with ease. Although I must be honest, I can’t see me chowing down on a hunk of meat before bedtime, ha ha.
Not getting enough sleep or having quality sleep is simply not good for you. If eating some of the right things can help you nod off into dreamland more easily, I’m all for it. What do you try when you can’t get to sleep?