For many people, it’s common that a busy work, family and social life takes precedence over a consistent sleep schedule. Data shows that 1 in 3 Americans don’t get enough sleep, measured as seven hours a night or more. The side effects of insufficient sleep are more than just low energy, 3pm desk naps or dark eye circles. Sleeping less than seven hours a day increases your risk of developing chronic conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and depression.
Tried-and-true better sleep methods include going to bed at the same time each night, avoiding caffeine later in the day, and turning off any screens (looking at you iphone) at least 30 minutes before bedtime. But did you know that certain foods can help you sleep?
How Foods Help You Sleep
Turns out the old advice of “go to bed a little bit hungry” could be impacting your sleep. If you don’t eat enough during the day, your appetite hormones can kick up in the middle of the night, causing you to wake up. Eating before bed can help to suppress these hormones and allow you to sleep through the night.
There are also several foods that contain melatonin, a hormone that helps control your sleep-wake cycle. Typically, levels of melatonin in our body rise in the evening and stay high throughout the night, helping us to stay asleep. Our bodies naturally produce melatonin however if you have trouble sleeping, eating foods that contain melatonin can help naturally increase the level in your body. When your body absorbs the melatonin from foods, you start to feel more calm and sleepy.
More recent research has found that eating a carbohydrate-rich snack at night may help to reset your circadian clock and benefit your melatonin levels. Carbs trigger insulin release, which can help tryptophan (an amino acid that helps make melatonin) enter your brain and bring on sleep.
7 Foods To Eat Before Bed
If you’re having trouble sleeping, try eating one of these foods before bed.
Walnuts are a good source of tryptophan, a sleep-enhancing amino acid that helps make serotonin and melatonin.
Almonds are rich in magnesium, a mineral required for quality sleep. Research shows that if your magnesium levels are too low, it is harder to stay asleep
Tart Cherry Juice
Tart cherries are one of the best food sources of melatonin, a hormone that helps control your sleep cycle. Try drinking 4 to 6 ounces of tart cherry juice before bed.
Yogurt or Milk
Calcium found in dairy products like yogurt and milk helps the brain use tryptophan to make sleep-triggering melatonin.
Carbohydrate-rich rice can increase tryptophan and melatonin production. Warm up a little leftover rice and top with a dash of milk for a simple bedtime snack.
Chickpeas, a key ingredient in hummus, are a source of tryptophan. In order to get the best sleep-enhancing effects, eat hummus along with some carbohydrates like crackers or pita bread.
Whole grains are a good source of magnesium and carbohydrates, a sleep double-whammy. Try a small bowl of cereal with milk, a slice of toast with nut butter, or leftover grains like barley, farro or brown rice.
Do you have any tried and true sleep tips? Share in the comments below.
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