More than 50 million Americans don’t get enough sleep. When you find yourself frequently staring at the clock, tossing and turning, or can’t seem to shut your mind down here are a few foods that can make falling asleep easier.
Here are some sleep inducing food choices from Jacob Teiltelbaum, author of From Fatigued to Fabulous and Neurologist Alon Avidan, director of the UCLA Sleep Disorders Center. Eat these snacks about 30 minutes before bed and keep them light – more is definitely not better.
Nuts & Seeds
Almonds contain magnesium, a muscle-relaxing mineral that plays a key role in regulating sleep. A handful of almonds or a tablespoon of almond butter before bed may help you fall asleep — and stay asleep.
Walnuts are a natural source of melatonin, a hormone that produces sleepiness. Walnuts help your body respond better to stress, too. For extra flavor, toast them briefly on top of the stove in a dry skillet until they're golden brown or bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.
Pumpkin seeds are loaded with a variety of essential nutrients, including substantial amounts of tryptophan. Pair a small piece of carb-rich fruit with your pumpkin seed snack to help the sleep-inducing nutrients reach your brain.
Peanut butter is rich in tryptophan, which the body uses to build hormones essential for sleep. spread some peanut butter ona few whole-grain crackers, which provide carbs to help the tryptophan reach the brain more easily.
Bananas contain tryptophan, an amino acid which morphs into serotonin and melatonin in the brain. They also offer abundant amounts of magnesium and potassium, notes UCLA's Avidan. "Both minerals help to relax muscles and may ease a painful charley horse that can wake you during the night," he says. It takes about an hour for tryptophan to reach the brain, so plan your snack accordingly.
Cherries, especially the tart varieties, are one of the few natural sources of melatonin according to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Botany. Recent studies have found that volunteers who drank tart cherry juice daily fell asleep sooner and slept better and longer. Have a handful an hour before bedtime; if fresh ones aren’t in season, go for cherry juice or the dried variety.
Certain fruits can significantly boost natural levels of melatonin, which tend to decline as we age. Researchers found that levels of a melatonin marker were raised by more than 266 percent after eating pineapples, 180 percent after eating bananas and 47 percent after eating oranges.
Cereal and Milk
Milk also contains the sleep-promoting tryptophan. The carbohydrates in cereal make tryptophan more available to the brain, according to the National Sleep Foundation. For the best nutritional bang, choose a small bowl of whole-grain, low-sugar cereal.
Crackers and Cheese
The protein in cheese provides sleep-inducing tryptophan, while the carbs in crackers may help you fall asleep faster. Gram for gram, cheddar cheese contains more tryptophan than turkey.
Chickpeas (garbanzo beans), the main ingredient in hummus, are not only rich in tryptophan, but also in folate and vitamin B-6. Folate helps to regulate sleep patterns, especially in older people, and vitamin B-6 helps to regulate your body clock. So spread some hummus on a small slice of bread for your before-bed snack.
Having a bowl of rice 4 hours before going to bed could help you fall asleep faster, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Researchers theorize that high glycemic-index foods like jasmine rice may boost tryptophan and serotonin, thus encouraging sleep. In the AJCN study, men fell asleep after an average of 9 minutes. Make sure to stick with jasmine rice rather than opting for the lower glycemic-index long-grain rice.
Downing a warm glass will encourage sweet dreams, says Donald Hensrud, a preventive medicine specialist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Milk is full of tryptophan, so it will have a sedative effect. Plus, it’s a good source of calcium, which helps regulate the production of melatonin. “If you can’t sleep or if you’re waking up in the middle of the night, get out of bed and have some milk,” Hensrud says. Make it even sweeter with a teaspoon of honey.
Green tea contains theanine, an amino acid that helps to reduce stress and promote relaxation. Just make sure that the green tea you enjoy at night is decaffeinated, because the caffeine in regular green tea might keep you awake.
We hope that these tips will lead you to a restful night’s sleep. At Dean and Draper we’re always looking for ideas to make your life better and easier.
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