Sleep is extremely important, and there’s no dissent in that. Shut-eye doesn’t come that easy for everyone. Many factors both internal and external can influence your sleep-wake cycles and can offset your quality sleep. If you are deprived of sleep, you would have dire consequences such as your cognitive thinking skills are impaired, motor skills decline, energy drops and you are at a greater risk of getting diseases such as gastrointestinal reflux, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s and even cancer. Taking sleep meds may work for a short-term but in the long run, you are hindering your body’s natural ability and sleep meds are known to have a lot of side effects such as dizziness, stomach pain, constipation and memory related problems. So say a big No for sleep meds.
There are many foods which contain naturally occurring substances (Tryptophan, Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamin-D, and Vitamin B-complex) that bring on sleep. Adding these foods to your diet may help to increase your odds of a successful slumber without any side effects. Here are some of the foods that help you sleep well.
As tart cherry juice is rich in the sleep-wake cycle hormone melatonin and tryptophan, aids to get better sleep. Moreover, tart cherries are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. New research finds when adults suffering from Insomnia drank a glass of tart cherry juice twice a day helped them to sleep 90 more minutes a night and experienced a high relief in the severity of Insomnia.
According to scientific research consuming jasmine rice (carbohydrate) with a high Glycemic-Index (GI) induces better sleep. High GI means the body digests it slowly and releases glucose gradually into the bloodstream. High GI foods trigger the release of insulin, which increases the ratio of tryptophan relative to other amino acids in the blood, and helps tryptophan to enter in to the brain and make people fall asleep.
Bananas are packed with healthy carbohydrates and can help you to slow down a bit. Bananas are a good source of the essential amino acid tryptophan, vitamin B-6 and also contain potassium and magnesium which act as muscle relaxers. This rich nutritional profile of bananas has a soothing effect on your body and promotes a good shut-eye. Try banana cinnamon tea, 1 hour before bedtime to get a good sleep.
Having warm milk at bedtime is a good way to get sleep. Milk contains an amino acid tryptophan, which helps induce sleep. Tryptophan is a precursor to the sleep-inducing compound serotonin which further acts as a precursor of melatonin. Even milk contains calcium which helps the brain to use tryptophan and synthesize melatonin. Not only milk but also other dairy products such as Greek yogurt, low fat-cheese are recommended.
Valerian Root Tea
For many years the herb valerian has been used as a sedative. Throughout the world, it is widely used to treat Insomnia. A number of studies suggest that valeric acid in the valerian root extract can give a sedative effect by increasing the brain’s GABA (inhibitory neurotransmitter) level – GABA in large quantities promote a great night’s sleep. Valerian root even has anti-anxiety effects. So grab a cup of valerian root tea at least 2 hours before bedtime. Also, try other decaf teas such as chamomile tea (contains apigenin) and green tea (contains theanine).
Eating a large meal before bed and going to bed on an empty stomach may lead to discomfort and waking during the night. Wanting a quick snack before bedtime that doesn’t require any prep, grab a handful of almonds. Almond, the ideal nut before sleep and it is a rich source of nutrient magnesium, a natural muscle relaxer and a sleep-supporting amino acid tryptophan.
Many of you think oatmeal as breakfast but it does work well in the evening too as it is rich in complex carbohydrates cause the release of serotonin. Oatmeal is a slower digesting carbohydrate so you don’t have to worry about waking up halfway. Whole grain oats are complex carbohydrates and oatmeal is a natural source of melatonin. Pair oats with a splash of milk and even can add apple, honey, banana and some nuts to increase the probability of restful sleep.
Sweet potatoes are a great source of muscle-relaxant potassium. They are rich in sleep-promoting complex carbohydrates that slowly digest and release body repairing energy during nights. This versatile starch veg also contains Vitamin B-6. They are even rich in Vitamin A, help in ocular health and boost the immune system.
Fishes especially salmon, halibut, and tuna are rich in Vitamin B-6, which is a water-soluble vitamin helps your body to secrete melatonin (regulates the body’s internal clock), serotonin and norepinephrine (influence the mood). Research suggests diet deficient in omega-3-fatty acids weakens the circadian rhythm process, lessens the melatonin synthesis and also has a part in nocturnal sleep disturbances. EPA and DHA have also been to lower the levels of nor-epinephrine.
Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans)
Chickpeas are referred as the miracle legume, they are fiber-rich and also rich in vitamins especially in Vitamin B-6, which plays an important role in the production serotonin and melatonin. Try adding chickpeas to salads, soups, and stews when you need sleep. Or use mashed chickpeas to prepare hummus spread (Main ingredients: Chickpeas, sesame, lemon, and garlic). Moreover, adding chickpeas to your diet helps in reducing the number of chronic illnesses.
Fortified cereals are rich in Vitamin B-6 which helps in producing system-calming serotonin and sleep-inducing melatonin. Fortified cereals are also rich Vitamin B-12; an essential vitamin required for the maintenance nervous system and prevents anaemia. Go for low sugar, whole-grain cereals. Some of the fortified cereals include General mills cheerios and Kellogg’s K.
People with sleep disorders generally tend to have high levels of oxidative stress, so anti-oxidant rich foods help overcome sleeplessness. Kiwi is rich in vitamin C and has potent antioxidant properties, which help in boosting the immune system and enhance cell protection and repair. Researchers found that eating kiwi on daily basis was linked to significant improvements in both sleep quality and quantity.
Other foods which promote sleep include edamame, hard boiled eggs, miso soup, broccoli, lettuce, and honey. Eating these sleep-inducing foods at dinner time can stage for a good night’s sleep.