Sleep is critical to health for a number of reasons. It gives a lot of the body’s hardest working organs (heart, lungs, kidneys etc.) a much-needed rest, and more effectively allows for the repair of damaged tissue.
While you won’t find much argument against the necessity of sleep, that fact still doesn’t ensure that most people are getting the sleep that they need.
Commitments such as work, workouts, and other factors can really make it difficult to find time for rest, or to get a good night’s sleep at the end of the day. Fortunately, food can help.
By now, you certainly know that some foods are bad for your sleep. High sugar foods can keep you up all night. The same is true for caffeinated beverages.
Really heavy or spicy meals can sit in your stomach and leave you feeling bloated, nauseous, or lead to heartburn. As such, it is better to avoid these foods near bedtime if you’re interested in getting some shut-eye.
However, there are other foods that can actually contribute to a good night’s rest. Consider eating some of these foods at bedtime instead, and see how well you sleep as a result:
All in all, nuts are a pretty great food option. When it comes to bedtime efficacy, walnuts can help you get to sleep easier due to their melatonin content.
Melatonin is an important hormone that is produced in the body, critically linked to the sleep-wake cycle, which in turn is associated with darkness and light.
You can make walnuts part of your winding down routine as a cue to let your body know that it is time for bed.
Additionally, walnuts offer good levels of protein, as well as healthy fats, which will help you feel sated and sleepy.
Salmon is another food that contains significant levels of healthy fats. In fact, omega-3 fatty acids are critical for brain health and development.
However, studies have also linked omega-3 to a higher quality of sleep. This seems to be because of an interaction between the omega-3 and melatonin, which causes the former to make the latter more effective.
When you factor in the protein content, as well as other vitamins and minerals in the salmon, you’ve got yourself one overall healthy food.
Ultimately, you’ll want at least three ounces of salmon three times weekly, but there’s room for more.
You might think of eggs primarily as a breakfast food. However, they are a convenient anytime snack, especially with a bit of foresight and some hard boiling.
What makes eggs so magical? The answer seems to be related to the Vitamin D content, which is actually hard to come by.
It is unknown exactly what Vitamin D has to do with getting high-quality sleep, but the link is there; a study has identified those who suffered from Vitamin D deficiencies ended up getting less sleep than those who were not deficient, due to a higher prevalence of sleep disruption.
You’ve probably heard of using a warm glass of milk to put a child to bed. There’s a reason for that—it works. Milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that can induce feelings of sleepiness.
In fact, this amino acid is responsible for the drowsiness that comes on after you’ve eaten some turkey. In milk it serves the same function; as for the ‘warm’ part, a warm drink may soothe the body into sleepiness due to the regulation of body temperature.
There’s also the fat(satiety) and the Vitamin D content, all of which help you get a better night’s sleep.
Because of the melatonin and tryptophan content of rice, it is a food that can affect the quality of sleep if consumed a few hours before bed.
A number of studies have examined the role that rice plays in sleep, most upon Japanese populations as a result of the high levels of rice in their diets.
It has been found that white rice can affect sleep, however, jasmine rice is the most effective if you’re looking to get better sleep. That said, don’t overdo it on white rice. Eating too much too often can lead to obesity or other problems.
Cashews are another great nut for health nuts, largely in part to their magnesium content. Magnesium is used in a number of important bodily processes, and a cup of cashews can give you almost your entire RDA of magnesium.
What does this have to do with sleep? Well, magnesium, deficiency has been linked to sleep disorders, along with restless leg syndrome, which can prove quite disruptive to sleep.
In the latter case, cashews regulate muscle contraction, which prevents the muscles from going haywire, giving you all sorts of pain and cramps in your legs when trying to get to sleep.
2. Sweet Potatoes
You might know these for their deliciousness in pie form. They’re actually a vegetable, and a healthy one at that, providing loads of potassium. Potassium, like magnesium, is very important for a number of processes in the body.
Generally, potassium is lauded for its help with heart health; it can lower blood pressure by providing flexibility to the blood vessels.
However, potassium also facilitates muscle contraction, much like magnesium, limiting the occurrence of muscle spasms that may affect sleep.
Furthermore, they can contribute to the production of serotonin, which can help you get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer.
1. Chamomile Tea
You might see ‘tea’ and think ‘what about caffeine?’ Chamomile tea is fine to drink around bedtime because it does not contain caffeine. It does, however, have certain compounds that can play a part in easing stress.
In this case, it’s less about making you sleepy and more about removing the things that interfere with falling asleep. That being said, a nice warm drink can get you cozy and ready for bed, too.
Consider adding milk for that vitamin D and tryptophan boost. Just be sure to stay away from added sugar, as this can spike your energy levels instead.
If you are having trouble getting to bed at night, consuming some of these snacks or drinks can certainly help your body get ready. However, you may also consider creating a bedtime routine designed to wind you down and prepare for sleep.
In general, bright lights, specifically the blue light of electronics, stimulates the brain, so when it’s getting close to bedtime, turn off the electronic entertainment and dim the lights.
You might even forego a TV in the bedroom. Also, make sure you try to go to bed at the same reasonable hour every night to build a routine.