High-quality sleep is linked to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke and depression. Better sleep is linked to improved concentration and productivity, better social interactions, and overall boosts immune function.
Insomnia is a common sleep disorder in which the person finds it hard to fall asleep and hard to stay asleep. One in three adults suffers from insomnia, with most people only dealing with it as a short-term affliction, known as acute insomnia which lasts for a few days or weeks. However, for some, it lasts for a month or more and is referred to as chronic insomnia.
The food you eat is one of the things that affect your quality of sleep. Here are foods to eat and foods to avoid for better sleep.
Foods to eat for better sleep
Kiwi or kiwifruit
Kiwifruit has numerous vitamins and minerals, most notably Vitamins C and E as well as potassium and folate. One study found that eating kiwi before bedtime led to participants falling asleep faster, sleeping more with overall better sleep quality.
Chicken and turkey are high in the amino acid tryptophan which boosts the body’s production of sleep-regulating neurotransmitter melatonin, which helps induce drowsiness.
One study found that people who ate salmon three times per week had better sleep overall as well as improved daytime functioning. These benefits are also to be found in fatty fish that are rich in Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.
The difference between white rice and brown rice is that white rice has its bran and germ removed which makes it lower in fibre, nutrients, and antioxidants. One study found that participants who consumed white rice had better sleep overall, including sleep duration.
White rice has a high glycemic index. This means that it gives you a natural increase in blood sugar and insulin levels which in turn help tryptophan work faster in the brain.
Tart cherries and tart cherry juice
Tart cherry juice is highly nutritious and is also known to promote sleepiness. It has even been studied for its role in relieving insomnia. These benefits are because of its high melatonin. Melatonin helps regulate the circadian rhythm and promotes healthy sleep. Tart cherries may also have an antioxidant effect that is conducive to sleep leading to better sleep.
Honey is quite the wonder food. It promotes sleep in two main ways. First, its natural sugars restock the glycogen levels in your liver preventing any hunger triggers and turning off orexin which is the hormone that keeps you awake. Second, honey helps slightly elevate the blood’s insulin levels which leads to the release of melatonin. Melatonin is a sleep regulatory hormone that enhances the flow of tryptophan into the brain.
Dark leafy greens
Magnesium found in dark leafy greens is necessary for proper nerve function and controlling blood sugar, both of which are important roles for sleep. Magnesium is an antidote to stress and one of the most powerful relaxation minerals available. One study found that sleep quality improved when people added magnesium to their diet because it helps decrease sympathetic nervous system activity. Participants who ate it had better sleep overall.
Kale in particular is rich in calcium which processes the hormones that make sleep hormones go to work leading to better sleep.
Banana peels contain tryptophan and the fruit itself has magnesium both of which help with better sleep. Bananas Are Good For Your Health – Here Is Why You Need To Eat More Of This Delicious Fruit
Whole grains encourage insulin production which results in tryptophan activity in the brain. They also have magnesium which is said to help you stay asleep.
Almonds are highly nutritious nuts with a wide range of benefits from lowering the risk of diabetes, heart disease to preventing inflammation and lowering the risk of chronic diseases. One study in which rats were the test subjects found that rats slept longer and more deeply after consuming almonds.
Other nuts that are considered helpful in the pursuit of better sleep are walnuts, pistachios, and cashew nuts.
Mushrooms are an amazing superfood. Shitake mushrooms in particular help regulate the use of tryptophan and support the adrenal glands.
Eggs are rich in inositol which is a member of the B vitamins family. Brain cells are lined with inositol so when we eat foods with it, the cells become more resistant to cortisol thereby improving sleep.
Herbal teas including passionflower tea, valerian tea, and chamomile tea offer sedative effects leading to better sleep. Lemon tea also serves as a natural sedative with research observing reduced levels of sleep disorders among subjects who used lemon balm compared to those who were given a placebo.
Foods to avoid for better sleep
Processed juice usually contains very little fruit and a lot of added sugars. The resultant sugar crush post-consumption can lead to increased anxiety and increased inability to sleep.
Alcohol will prevent you from reaching restorative deep sleep. It can also worsen conditions like sleep apnea.
Caffeine is a stimulant and can result in anxiety and insomnia. In the short term, it may give you an energy boost but later on, that translates to irritability and sleep problems.
Chocolate is packed with sugar which negatively impacts sleep. One study found that people who ate more sugar and saturated fats experienced less deep sleep and woke up more throughout the night.
Spicy foods rev up your metabolism which ruins your chances of falling asleep. They also raise your core body temperature which is counter to what your body needs in order to sleep. The body temperature naturally decreases to get you ready to fall asleep and raising it makes you feel more awake and struggle with staying asleep.
Fatty foods and fast food including fries, pizza, burgers, and the rest of the fun stuff that is bad for you are fatty, and high-fat foods are harder to digest. This takes an extra toll on your body and can lead to sleep disruptions keeping you up at night.
Better sleep is possible. Change your diet to include sleep-positive foods in the evenings and if you must eat anything from the avoid list, do it way way way before bedtime.