Do you have trouble sleeping? If so, you are in good company. According to the National Sleep Foundation, over half of all Americans report experiencing a sleep problem or disturbance every night or almost every night, leaving them feeling tired and unrefreshed the next day.
Here are ten foods that can help you sleep through the night.
According to nutritionist and biochemist Shawn Talbott, bananas are high in potassium, which can help calm restless muscles and prevent cramps.
Bananas are also rich in magnesium, which relaxes both muscles and nerves, letting your body stay calm throughout the night. Magnesium also helps with healthy digestion, so you are less likely to be up in the middle of the night due to indigestion or heartburn.
Eat a plain banana before bed, or make a sweet treat after dinner by blending a banana in with a fruit and vegetable smoothie. This is also a great way to pack in some extra leafy greens because spinach and banana smoothies are very popular and enjoyed frequently by those who have tried them.
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Walnuts are rich in tryptophan, which is a sleep-enhancing amino acid. Trytophan encourages the production of serotonin and melatonin in the brain. While serotonin is the chemical that is responsible for maintaining one’s mood balance, melatonin acts as the body’s clock, setting your sleep-wake cycles.
In this video, the link between sleep and melatonin is explained. You will be able to see how having sufficient melatonin production is key to getting a good night’s sleep.
Also, according to researchers at the University of Texas, walnuts actually contain their own individual source of melatonin, which can work in conjunction with your own melatonin to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep
A lot of fish, especially salmon and halibut, are full of vitamin B6. According to the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, vitamin B6 helps the body produce melatonin, which promotes sleep hygiene.
These fish are also very healthy because they are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. The body is able to use these fats to its benefit to run optimally. Omega 3 fatty acids also have been shown to promote restfulness by reducing surges of stress hormones.
While oatmeal is a popular food for breakfast, it can be a very helpful dinner if you are having trouble falling asleep. The grains in oatmeal trigger the liver to produce insulin because they naturally raise blood sugar. Oats are also naturally rich in melatonin.
5. Tart Cherry Juice
Rather than drinking alcohol, which can disrupt your sleeping patterns, drink a glass of tart cherry juice. A 2010 Journal of Medicinal Food study, that was conducted on the elderly shows that tart cherry juice is another great natural inducer of melatonin. This may significantly help to reduce incidences of insomnia.
Because tart cherry juice may not be palatable to all, try combining it with almond milk and ice and blend it together. This makes a great little sweet treat after dinner and before bedtime. If you are unable to find tart cherry juice, try eating dried or fresh cherries.
Kale is rich in both potassium and calcium, which both have properties that help to induce sleep. Studies have shown that calcium is directly related to sleep cycle. One study that was published in the European Neurology Journal found that levels of calcium in the body rise during periods of deep sleep such as the rapid eye movement phase.
This study also found that disturbances in deep sleep are related to a deficiency in calcium. Once the calcium levels in a body had been normalized in this study, restoration to normal sleep patterns was achieved. Being a potent source of calcium, kale is a great food to eat before bed.
If you don’t like eating kale right before bed, eat it as part of your dinner in your salad. There are other dark, leafy green aside from kale that are also rich sources of calcium, such as Swiss chard and spinach. These also contain significant potassium.
7. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are rich in potassium, which the body is able to use to relax muscles and nerves. Potassium also helps promote proper circulation of the blood.
Sweet potatoes are great when they are baked, but they can also be enjoyed in the form of sweet potato fries or mashed. In addition to the sleep-inducing potassium, sweet potatoes contain a lot of healthy carbohydrates, which will keep you full throughout the night.
Eating half of a sweet potato is enough to provide you with the benefits you need to sleep through the night. It is healthiest to bake it and sprinkle it with some herbs or cinnamon.
Related: Sweet Potato Nachos
Chickpeans, also referred to as garbanzo beans, are a rich source of vitamin B6. Promoting the synthesis of melatonin, B6 is beneficial to a good night’s sleep.
It is best to eat chickpeas during dinner in order to help induce sleep later on in the evening, once they have been processed by the digestive system. Add some garbanzo beans to your dinner salad for some extra help going to sleep.
However, it is important to plan ahead when eating garbanzo beans because they contain a lot of protein, which can cause gas. Intestinal gas may end up disrupting sleep if it is uncomfortable.
Eggs are a tempting breakfast, but they can also be a beneficial late night snack. Eggs are high in protein, which can help stabilize your blood sugar levels throughout the night, letting you rest easy.
Eat an egg or two in the evening with a food rich in carbohydrates, such as whole grain toast. Adding a healthy carbohydrate lets the tryptophan from the protein in the egg to be more bioavailable.
According to Dr. Axe, eating foods rich in tryptophan promotes natural calming effects, fights anxiety, induces sleep, and is potentially able to help burn more body fat.
Eating cereal before bed in beneficial in two ways to inducing sleep. First, the carbohydrates from the cereal will raise the blood sugar, which will naturally make you sleepy.
Also, the calcium from the milk will help to induce sleep. This is an easy snack to eat right before bed and it will hold you through the night. This is a good quick fix if you need a snack at the last minute before going to bed.
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While many of these foods have vitamins and minerals in common that help to induce sleep, everyone prefers different foods, so it is good to have a wide variety of helpful foods to help you fall asleep.
So, you do not need to eat every item on this list to get a good night’s sleep, but pick the foods that are most appealing to you and try them out.
Start with just one and see how it works and if you need to incorporate more, you can do so throughout the day. It is never too early in the day to start promoting proper sleep hygiene.