Are you one of 70 million Americans who experience restless nights where you’re tossing, turning, and constantly waking up? Maybe you’ve already tried a slew of things in hopes of getting a good night’s sleep - from turning off electronics to blackout curtains, to spraying your pillows with lavender, but it’s still a struggle. We feel your pain and we just might have a solution you haven’t tried.
What if we told you there are certain foods that can improve the quality of your sleep and help you get those well deserved zzz’s? Science has shown that one key to better sleep starts at the dinner table. Tryptophan, for example, is an amino acid that encourages the release of sleep hormones and is found in some of the foods you love. It’s not only what you eat that matters though, but also how you eat. Digestion slows when you’re laying down which can cause discomfort as you’re drifting off to sleep. So eating a large meal late in the evening isn’t ideal.
To help you rest easy, we’re sharing eight of the top foods to add to your dinner menu and a few bonus tips on what you’ll want to avoid. Bon appetit and sweet dreams!
Foods That Improve Sleep Quality
Almonds + Cashews: These go-to nuts contain magnesium, a mineral which acts like a natural sedative. Even a small deficiency in magnesium can lead to trouble in the sleep department.
Apricots: Not only pretty and deliciously tangy-tart, they’re chock full of vitamin C which can help relieve stress. Vitamin C-rich foods have been shown to help your body recover faster from stress, and fewer rattled nerves may mean better sleep.
Asparagus: These green stalks are famous for helping us cleanse but they’re also high in folate, which is essential for cardiovascular health and has been linked to anxiety and mood regulation, both which can affect your slumber.
Bananas: Sweet and creamy, this fruit is a rich source of melatonin, a sleep hormone - as well as potassium, which helps normalize your heartbeat.
Cheese: Swiss or cheddar, more specifically, are a great source of tryptophan which encourages the release of melatonin. The hormone that helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
Nutmeg: Researchers have shown that nutmeg improves blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and it’s also earned a reputation as a home remedy for menstrual cramps and anxiety.
Tart cherries: This fruit is loaded with anthocyanins, an important type of antioxidant that lowers inflammation, as well as cholesterol and triglyceride levels. But they’re sleeping beauties, too, since cherries are also a natural source of melatonin.
Oatmeal: Oats contain more tryptophan per serving than turkey, the food famous for making you sleepy. This amino acid is converted to the feel-good and sleep-controlling hormone, serotonin. Not only that, but just one cup provides you with 60 mg of magnesium. If you have trouble quieting down your brain at night, a lack of magnesium might be to blame. Optimal magnesium levels are needed for getting better sleep.
Foods To Avoid
High fat meals: Heavy meals loaded with unhealthy fats and refined carbs have been shown to cause disturbances in your sleep/wake cycle and disrupt your body’s natural circadian rhythms which makes it more difficult to fall asleep.
Added sugars: The sweet stuff will affect blood sugar levels, giving you a short burst of energy, before a large drop. As your blood sugar levels fall, your sleep can be disrupted in the middle of the night.
Caffeine: That cup of coffee at night may cause insomnia and restlessness. Try your best to avoid soda, coffee, tea and chocolate after 12:00 p.m.
Alcohol: Alcohol may help you fall asleep faster, but your quality of sleep throughout the night will be negatively impacted and likely leave you feeling groggy when you wake up.
A lack of quality sleep can have many negative side effects, including irritability, difficulty focusing and an overall lack of ability to function properly. That’s why it’s important for you to try different things, like avoiding certain foods and adding others to your diet. It just might be your key to less tossing and turning at night and more jumping for joy during the day.
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