Sleep is an integral part of full-body health and vitality. However, many people struggle to maintain a healthy sleep cycle. A lack of sleep, or even several nights of poor quality sleep, negatively impacts many important physiological, chemical, and neurological functions.
These dysfunctions can lead to both mental and physical health issues that greatly affect your general well-being. But there’s one part of sleep health that many people overlook. And that’s diet.
The food we eat plays a significant role in both sleep quality and duration. Eating certain foods can cause too much stimulation that prevents sleep from occurring. While others slow down the production of melatonin, which is the neurochemical that enables us to sleep.
Some foods, on the other hand, can actually help to support healthy sleeping habits.
By providing our bodies with all the right nutrients and minerals to sleep deeply at night, these foods introduce a healthy and sustainable sleep cycle. Leaving you feeling rested and refreshed every morning.
Read on to find out which foods you should incorporate into your everyday diet for deeper, more restorative sleep.
- Warmed Milk
Warmed, spiced milk has been used for centuries as a method for inducing natural drowsiness at night. It’s an accessible and affordable ingredient that most people have in their fridge, and you can infuse it with cinnamon or turmeric for added flavor.
Milk contains several sleep-enhancing compounds. Some of those include calcium, tryptophan, melatonin and vitamin D. The combination of these compounds relaxes the body and triggers the production of sleep-promoting melatonin, helping you to fall asleep faster.
- Fatty Fish
Fatty fish is an incredibly healthy food product for numerous reasons. The fats found in certain fish often contain omega-3 oils, which are important for brain health. This is why many people refer to fish as “brain food”.
In addition to omega-3 oils, fatty fish contains vitamin B12, phosphorus, and magnesium. These nutrients help with the production of serotonin, a natural hormone that makes us feel happy and relaxed. Some of the fattiest fish include salmon, mackerel, and herring.
- Cherry Juice
Tart cherry juice is useful in supporting your body on its way to a healthier sleeping pattern. Cherries are enriched with potassium, serotonin, tryptophan, and melatonin. All of which are chemicals the body needs in order to regulate sleep.
A study from 2018 found that people who consumed cherry juice between dinner and bedtime experienced deeper, longer-lasting sleep sessions. This is probably also due to the fact that cherries contain anti-inflammatory properties, which help to reduce muscle pain.
- Almonds And Walnuts
Nuts of all kinds are a great source of healthy fats and fiber. But almonds and walnuts in particular are known for their sleep-enhancing properties. They both make a tasty, wholesome snack before bed and contain many vitamins and minerals that naturally boost nighttime sleepiness.
A 100g serving of these nuts before bed delivers a strong dose of magnesium, which helps to relax the muscles in preparation for rest. They also contain melatonin-boosting nutrients that enable the brain to more swiftly transition into the REM cycle, and stay there for the recommended period of time.
- White Rice
White rice may not be the first food that comes to mind when trying to create a better relationship with sleep. But this healthy grain is actually packed full of nutrients that aid overnight rest.
Even though white rice gets stripped of most of its fiber and husk, it still contains a sizable amount of folate, thiamine, and magnesium. Eating a portion of white rice for dinner can help to induce longer sleeping periods.
However, it’s not recommended that you consume more than 80g per serving, as eating too many low-fiber foods can have the opposite effect.
Chamomile tea is a classic and completely natural sleep-enhancing remedy. With its pleasantly floral aroma and mild flavor, drinking chamomile tea before bed can produce powerful sleep-promoting effects.
The chamomile flower contains a flavonoid called apigenin that can influence the production of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). This is a neurochemical responsible for inducing sleep.
- Kiwi Fruit
Kiwi is a delicious green fruit that has a surprising effect on the human sleep cycle. With its high content of nutrients, some studies have found that eating a small serving of kiwi before bed results in longer sleeping hours.
A single kiwi fruit contains significant levels of magnesium, potassium, folate, calcium, carotenoids and melatonin-boosting chemicals. A well-timed fruit salad after dinner could be your new secret weapon for better sleep.
- Barley Grass
Barley grass is the dense, green leafy part of the barley plant. It’s rich with vital nutrients and minerals, and used by millions in the form of a dried powder that’s added to smoothies, soups, or inside a capsule for that daily hit of health.
In addition to providing the body with numerous essential micro and macronutrients, barley green also contains a high level of magnesium, tryptophan, and calcium to help promote sleep. It’s also composed of a chemical that encourages the body to produce more GABA receptors.
This hydrating plant (and its seeds) are natural sleep enhancers that grow in your garden. Several studies have found that lettuce and lettuce seeds have the ability to produce a mild sedative effect, which can regulate the body’s sleep cycle.
The chemical responsible for this effect is lactucin, and researchers are still trying to find out how it has the ability to promote sleep. A 2017 study found that lactucin not only enables us to sleep for longer periods of time but also helps to reduce stress and inflammation.
- Passionflower Tea
This fruity-flavored tea is rich in antioxidants and flavonoids, which are both essential for reducing anxiety, inflammation, and risk of heart disease. Passionfruit flowers contain apigenin, which helps to slow down the nervous system and cause the whole body to relax.
Drinking a cup of this tea after dinner can help your body digest food and start building up a healthy level of physical and mental relaxation.
Sleep health is about so many things. From your circadian rhythm to the type of mattress you sleep on, and your lifestyle choices. Next time a lack of sleep or a poor night’s rest gets the better of you, think about your diet. What you eat could be the secret to helping you sleep!