We’ve all heard that a glass of warm milk will put you to bed faster. Although some of that is true and some of that is old wives tale, there’s definitely some science behind what foods will help you fall asleep (and which ones won’t). Because the average adult needs a minimum of 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night to be healthy, according to the Sleep Advisor, here are 12 proven foods (and food groups) that will help you sleep better:
1. Walnuts & Almonds – Walnuts are a source of tryptophan, and also a source of melatonin. Tryptophan is an amino acid found in foods, and it turns into a B Vitamin called Niacin within your body, according to sleep.org. Niacin creates serotonin, a neurotransmitter that aids with sleep and that also produces melatonin in many cases. Melatonin controls our sleep and wake patterns and regulates what puts us to sleep and what wakes us up.
Almonds contain a significant amount of magnesium which is widely known to be a headache remedy and a powerful sleep aid. Also, people with low magnesium generally wake up throughout the night, so it’s good for sustaining sleep. The best part about eating nuts before bed is that they’re light and not overly filling, so while they will satisfy your hunger, you won’t get any heartburn or indigestion because of them.
2. Dairy Products – Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt also contain tryptophan. The bonus here is that tryptophan usually needs something else to make it work faster and better, and that can be a carbohydrate, or it can be calcium. Carbohydrates, like rice, can be effective in putting you to sleep as well, but then your body is trying to work off all that sugar. Dairy products can be an ultra effective way to get to sleep without adding too many calories.
3. Lettuce, Kale, and Spinach – Leafy greens are also loaded with calcium and excellent for making that tryptophan work. A friend of mine eats salad before bed every single night. It’s easy to digest and makes her sleepy.
4. Wild Lettuce — Wild lettuce contains lactucarium which is widely thought to have healing properties. It also acts as a sedative, similar to opioids. There are differences of opinions on whether this is found in all lettuce or just certain types of wild lettuce, but there are people who boil lettuce in water and then drink the water before bed as a type of natural sedative.
5. Tuna, Halibut, & Salmon – As mentioned before, certain types of Vitamin Bs lead to melatonin and then to serotonin. Any type of fish will be very high in vitamin B6, so they make more melatonin than other food groups.
6. Cherries – Cherries also naturally boost levels of melatonin as well. Drinking cherry juice is more effective than just eating cherries because of the amount of volume you’re able to ingest, but regular cherries on the stem work too if that’s all you have on hand. The tarter the cherry, the more melatonin, according to a study published by ChooseCherries.com.
7. Cereal – Cereal is the perfect example of carbs and calcium combining to naturally help you sleep. As a bonus, if you add milk to your cereal, or eat almonds or bananas in your cereal, you get two, three, and even four sleep inducing foods to really pack a bedtime punch.
8. Herbal Tea – There are many different types of herbal teas out there that use different organic ingredients to get you to bed quicker. In addition, especially when served warm or hot, they can also be very soothing and relaxing, which also helps.
9. Honey – Honey raises your insulin, which helps tryptophan get into your brain faster. It works the same as if you were to eat carbohydrates, but the benefit of honey is that it’s less sugar, so it’s just the right amount to slightly raise your insulin level and not enough to make you crash. Try adding your honey into your herbal tea as a sweetener for even more effect.
10. Shrimp & Lobster – Shrimp and lobster are both sources of tryptophan as well, so the good news is that if you’re traveling or it’s a special occasion you can still have that fancy seafood dinner, the turkey is not always the only main dish required to put you to sleep.
11. Whole Grains – Whole grains like bulgur, barley, and other grains are all rich in magnesium which can keep you asleep for a longer period of time.
12. Bananas – Finally, bananas are a wonderful source of potassium, as well as vitamin B6, according to health.com — which is needed to make melatonin. Melatonin is normally triggered by darkness so if you’re needing to take a nap during the day, you may want to try bananas or another melatonin creating food.
Of course, if you’re traveling, you should always try to sample the local cuisines and what they would recommend to help you sleep better! Check out Food Fun Travel for the best cuisines all over the globe!
A Guest Post On Food Fun Travel by – Sarah Cummings
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