Ever have those nights where you really can’t settle down and fall asleep at a decent hour? Even worse, if sleep troubles are starting to become your new norm? Well certain foods contain specific substances that help you feel tired, so we’re going to lay out the foods that promote sleep for you below!
What you consume throughout the day has an impact on not only your waistline and health, but also your sleep-wake cycles. Obviously, when you consume caffeine later in the day, it can give you more troubles falling asleep at night. Also many of us have troubles getting to bed if we’ve consumed a large dinner (especially if it’s packed with protein which takes longer for us to digest).
I can’t stress enough how important sleep is for overall health, and anyone who knows me knows that I’m a sleep fuh-reak (I try to get 9 hours a night). Getting enough shut eye helps regulate your mood, supports your immune system, prevents you from having sleep-deprived food cravings (leading to a smaller waistline), keeps your skin looking healthy and your productivity higher..the benefits are endless.
Besides putting your phone away, limiting blue light emissions, and other tricks to wind down at the end of the night, these foods will help you produce melatonin and serotonin which are hormones that help us caaaaaalm down.
Foods That Promote Sleep:
Foods containing tryptophan: Tryptophan is an amino acid that is famously known to promote sleepiness. Our body turns tryptophan into niacin (vitamin b3) which is an important vitamin that helps create serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that assists a hormone that is in charge of our sleeping cycles, melatonin. See the connection? Confusing I know – but all you need to remember is to find foods with tryptophan including:
- beans like chickpeas, lentils, soybeans
- nuts (cashews and walnuts especially)
- whole grains
Foods high in calcium and magnesium: Studies have shown that when we don’t have enough calcium and magnesium in our diet, we could be experiencing disrupted sleep. Calcium is especially important in supporting our use of tryptophan. When it comes to magnesium, one study found in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine discussed how it’s harder to stay asleep when we have low magnesium levels. So stock up on these foods that contain calcium and/or magnesium:
- leafy greens like mustard greens, kale, spinach
- bulger and barley
Foods containing vitamin B6: This vitamin plays an important role in stimulating both melatonin and serotonin. Make sure you’re just getting B6 from food sources and not bombarding your system with supplements as you can overdue it leading to negative side-effects, and we don’t want that! Food sources of vitamin B6 include:
- nuts like pistachios
- seafood like salmon, halibut, and tuna
- veggies like spinach, broccoli, asparagus
- sweet potatoes
Cherry Juice: According to research conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, tart cherries and tart cherry juice helped boost natural levels of melatonin. Prevention.com discusses a few more studies that support drinking cherry juice for more restful sleep and that consuming it twice a day can even help with insomnia. You can read the article here.
Carbs, if you don’t have insulin issues: Having carbs at night naturally spikes your insulin levels, causing you to feel tired. I know some nutritionists say to not eat carbs at night if you want to lose weight, but there are many conflicting reports and studies that support this, so do what works best for you. Oatmeal is the perfect “dessert” after dinner to help you wind down as it also contains natural levels of melatonin. I also opt for popcorn since it’s low cal and also does the trick to make you want to drift away to dream land.
Late night munchy ideas: So, if you need to step up your sleep inducing food game, try some of these snacks to help you get more ZZZZZZ’s.
- Hummus with whole-grain flatbread
- Homemade sweet potato chips or fries
- Cashew butter on an apple
- A handful of pistachios
- Oatmeal with almond milk and sprinkled with flaxseeds and pistachios
- Banana ice cream (my favorite thing to have at night while watching a movie)
- Small bowl of popcorn sprinkled with nutritional yeast and pepper