If you've been tossing and turning at night, you might consider making some diet changes to help you sleep better. Perhaps you've cut out caffeine, chocolate, and other natural stimulants, but sleep is still a distant memory. If that's the case, chances are you might need to make a few other diet changes to help you sleep better too. Try some out of these options and hopefully within a week you’ll be sleeping soundly and feeling great!
1. Eat Foods That Produce Melatonin
One of the first diet changes to help you sleep better you can make is to eat foods that naturally promote melatonin production in the body. Melatonin is a hormone your body makes naturally and lets your system know when it’s time to go to sleep and when to wake up. It’s regulated by the sun but can be offset from daylight savings time, jet lag, stress, or even from your diet. Foods such as oatmeal, walnuts, bananas, tuna, and avocadoes all help your body produce melatonin naturally, so eat more of those throughout the day and see if you notice any changes.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that produces a sense of calm and relaxation in the body. It’s found in a variety of foods but some of the best options are: pumpkin, bananas, soy foods, oatmeal, turkey, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, peanuts and peanut butter, milk, yogurt, whey protein, almonds, and cheese. Try having some of these for dinner or a small amount as a late night snack.
3. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 helps reduce stress and enhance relaxation. It’s found in: oatmeal, avocados, peanut butter, spirulina, chickpeas, hummus, almonds, oregano, fish, pumpkin seeds, pumpkin, turkey, chicken, yogurt, and chia seeds.
Calcium helps the body relax almost immediately as you might know, but don’t turn to milk just yet. Better sources include: nondairy fortified almond milk, almonds, spinach, tofu, Swiss chard, sesame seeds, tahini, chia seeds, and for a low-lactose option, yogurt and whey protein are also fantastic.
5. Sleepytime Tea
Sleepytime Tea by Celestial Seasoning is a natural, caffeine-free tea made with herbs like chamomile, valerian, lemongrass, and several others. It not only tastes great, but is also inexpensive and effective. It's found at most supermarkets nationwide.
Magnesium supplements can also help send you to sleep, reduce stress, and inflammation. Magnesium is also found in foods such as spinach, cocoa (which has less caffeine than regular chocolate), almonds, almond butter, peanuts, peanut butter, fish, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and yogurt.
7. Avoid Unsuspected Foods
Some foods you might not expect to keep you awake so be sure you avoid them right before bed. These include: maca, dark chocolate, spicy foods, sugar, and wine. Alcohol may send you off to sleep but can cause you to wake back up in the middle of the night. It also interferes with your natural melatonin cycle as well. Foods high in fat like oils, butter, and too many nuts and seeds can also tax the digestive system and cause you to toss and turn all night.
It's best to keep your meals simple before bed and never go to bed hungry since that can also keep you awake. Try some of these tasty options out and always remember to eat a light dinner but never go to bed hungry. What foods have you found to help you sleep?