Top 10 Foods and Drinks to Help You Sleep
Sleep plays an incredibly important role in our overall wellness. Sleep quality and duration can have major effects on both our physical and mental health, which makes a consistent sleep schedule that much more important. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one third of adults in the U.S. are not getting a healthy amount of sleep. Fortunately, there are steps people can take to improve their sleep. Some of these steps are as simple as consuming certain foods and drinks before going to bed, because they contain compounds that induce sleep. Many nutrients, amino acids, enzymes, and hormones work together to promote good sleep and regulate the sleep cycle. These include:
- Gamma-aminobutyric acid
- Vitamin D
- B vitamins
These are just some of the sleep-promoting compounds that can be found in various foods and drinks. While these compounds are typically found in only low concentrations, there are some foods and drinks that contain higher concentrations which can potentially help induce sleep. So, what are these foods can positively impact our sleep? This guide will explore, in detail, the best sustenance for sleep.
Almonds have many health benefits. Not only are they an excellent source of nutrients, but they have also been associated with lower risks of several chronic diseases. When it comes to sleep, almonds can boost one’s overall quality of rest because of the melatonin and magnesium in each nut. Melatonin is a hormonal component of our internal sleep clock that induces sleep. Magnesium has been proven to curb insomnia since it can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is known to interrupt sleep.
Walnuts are another great tree nut option. Like almonds, they are abundant in many nutrients such as magnesium. Additionally, they boost cardiovascular health by reducing high cholesterol levels. Walnuts are also one of the best natural sources of melatonin. Their fatty acids may also contribute to better sleep. While their effect on sleep hasn’t been studied as much, walnuts still contain elements known to promote sleep.
Many people can tell you about their experience with the infamous “food coma” after consuming a Thanksgiving turkey. That’s because turkey is more than just a delicious, holiday staple. In addition to being rich in protein, turkey contains the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is known to increase the production of melatonin. Also, studies have suggested that even the protein found in turkey promotes tiredness and can lead to less sleep interruptions.
4. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, and mackerel are incredibly healthy. What makes them stand out is their amount of vitamin D. Additionally, these fatty fish are high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. This combination of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids can enhance sleep quality. They have both shown the ability to increase the production of serotonin. Serotonin is actually converted to melatonin, the primary sleep hormone.
5. White Rice
White rice is a widely consumed grain that has a high glycemic index (GI). It has been suggested that consuming foods with a high GI one hour before bed may improve your overall sleep quality. In one study, the sleep habits of 1,848 people were compared based on their intake of rice, bread, or noodles. Higher rice consumption was associated with better quality sleep and longer sleep duration than the intake of bread or noodles.
Kiwi is one of the best fruits to consume for better sleep quality. In a 4-week study, 24 adults were given two kiwis to eat one hour before bed time. At the end of the study, participants fell asleep 42% more quickly after eating kiwis compared to when they did not eat anything. The participants’ ability to sleep throughout the night without interruptions also increased by 5%, and their total sleep time increased by 13%. The sleep-promoting effects of kiwis are attributed to serotonin. Even the antioxidants found in kiwis have been shown to enhance sleep.
7. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea is known for its calming and soothing nature and health benefits. There is evidence to suggest that drinking chamomile tea boosts your immune system, reduces anxiety and depression, and improves your skin. This is all in addition to its effect on sleep quality. Chamomile tea contains apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to the receptors in your brain to promote sleep and reduce insomnia. In a nutshell, drinking chamomile tea can relax common sleep inhibitors (i.e., anxiety, depression, insomnia).
8. Passionflower Tea
Passionflower tea is another herbal tea associated with improving your health. Like chamomile tea, passionflower tea reduces anxiety and contains apigenin. What is especially notable about this tea is its calming effects. Passionflower increases the production of the brain chemical gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA can inhibit other brain chemicals that induce stress. Since stress is often a sleep inhibitor, passionflower tea can combat this, thereby helping you fall asleep.
9. Tart Cherry Juice
Tart cherry juice is great for our health, containing nutrients such as magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. It is also a rich source of antioxidants. Not only does tart cherry juice improve sleep quality, but it can also help relieve insomnia thanks to its higher concentration of melatonin. Studies have shown that tart cherry juice can increase your total sleep time.
10. Malted Milk
Milk is already a common drink consumed before bed time because milk itself contains high levels of melatonin. Studies have shown that malted milk, in particular, reduces sleep interruptions due to the level of B and D vitamins it contains. The combination of these vitamins, along with the melatonin, is the perfect recipe for a good night’s sleep.
Clearly, your diet has an impact on how you sleep. By consuming certain foods and drinks, you can even improve your overall sleep quality. However, consuming sleep inducing foods alone is not enough to improve an overall poor sleep quality. Your diet is just one factor among many that affects how well or poorly you sleep. Improving your diet is simply a great step towards enhancing your sleep routine.
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