People who get uninterrupted sleep are likely to be more productive and healthier than those whose sleep is often interrupted throughout the night.
Habitual lack of sleep has been shown to be responsible for depression, high blood sugar levels, weight gain, and an increased risk of diabetes and even brain damage.
Sleep is where we recover, recharge and prepare for tomorrow. It’s also where we process today.
1 day of poor sleep has a domino effect on my entire week if I don’t address it…
Everything from hormones, muscle growth, metabolism, digestion, immune system function and quieting of the mind all perform best in our sleep.
That said, many of us eat before bed…
But did you know certain foods have sleep promoting substances?
Here are the top ten foods to help give you a cozy night’s rest:
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A recent study shows that eating two kiwi fruit every day before bed improves the quality of your sleep by 40% and helps you fall asleep 35% quicker.
Kiwis are high in serotonin, which is a pre-curser to melatonin. Melatonin is an internal sleep “facilitator” for humans.
The hormone is used to regulate our circadian rhythm.
Other foods high in naturally occurring serotonin:
- African Griffonia bean
Eating your favorite oatmeal before bed might help you get to sleep much faster. The snack has two powerful components to help put you to bed: carbohydrates and natural melatonin.
You might have thought oatmeal was just for breakfast, but it’s actually a great snack before bed.
Walnuts are an excellent Tryptophan source, an amino acid that enhances sleep by helping to make melatonin and serotonin, a hormone that helps set your sleep cycles.
Researchers also discovered walnuts are actually a great source of melatonin (the hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycle).
Here’s a natural melatonin that I tried several years ago, when I had trouble sleeping after workouts.
Most nuts, and almonds in particular have a lot of magnesium, a mineral required for really solid sleep.
A medical study published in a prominent medical journal demonstrated that when the levels of magnesium are low in the body, it makes it more difficult to stay asleep.
Magnesium helps us regulate over 325 enzymes in our body and plays an important role in organizing many functions, like muscle control, electrical impulses, energy production and the elimination of harmful toxins.
It’s the second most abundant element in human cells and the fourth most important positively charged ion in the body.
Many Americans have five times as much calcium as magnesium in their bodies… The proper ratio for optimum absorption of both minerals is two to one.
Another way to get a quick boost of magnesium is to soak in an epsom salt bath.
Leafy greens contain high levels of calcium, important for producing sleep hormones. I like to make kale chips for a healthy, sleep-inducing snack.
Lettuce in particular, has a sleep-inducing substance called lactucarium (natural opiate) in it, which has sedative effects on the brain similar to opium.
You can try out this unique idea from the brook Stealth Health.
Simmer at least three big leaves of lettuce in a water cup for 15 minutes. Take the brew off the heat, add two mint sprigs, and sip it prior to going to bed.
Here’s A Great Kale Chip Recipe
- 1 bunch kale
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt, to taste
- White or balsamic vinegar
- Cayenne powder
- Bragg’s liquid aminos
- Sesame seeds.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Wash the kale, and be sure to dry it as thoroughly as possible or it won’t crisp up well.
- Tear the kale into bite-sized pieces and coat them in olive oil (and vinegar, if you’re using it.)
- Lay them out in a single layer on a baking sheet; too much overlapping will lead to limp kale. Sprinkle with salt and seasonings.
- Bake for about six minutes. If they’re still not quite crispy, turn them over and bake another six minutes, but this step may not be necessary. Remove the kale chips from the oven before they starts to brown, or they’ll be bitter.
- Repeat the whole process, if you want to actually save some, because this batch will be gone before you know it.
Note – In order to keep them crispy, put raw rice in the bottom of the container you store them in. This absorbs excess moisture, just like the old “put your phone in rice” trick people use after dropping the phone in water.
Pumpkin seeds are relatively high in tryptophan. Pumpkin seeds also contain high amounts of zinc, which helps the brain convert tryptophan into serotonin.
This is even more awesome because the insulin spike from the blood sugar increase that you’ll get will actually help tryptophan cross the blood-brain barrier…
Bottom line, pumpkin seeds will help you crash out.
Fish like salmon, halibut, and tuna are really high in B6, which can help your body make melatonin and serotonin.
If you’ll recall, you can even spot melatonin in the sleep aid section of your local health food store.
Other foods that are high in B6 include:
- Pistachio nuts
- Raw garlic
White rice is high on the glycemic index, too. Eating it will definitely cut down on the time it takes you to get to sleep, according to a recent medical study.
Jasmine rice in particular can bring about a sleep state even faster.
A study published in a notable medical journal found people who had a meal with jasmine rice fell asleep faster than when other types of rice was consumed.
Sour cherries are high in tryptophan and also make DHEA, which is an important hormone that also increases melatonin and helps the body have deep and restful sleep.
A big, fresh cup of cherry juice could help you fall asleep a lot faster.
Tart cherries, especially, naturally raise melatonin levels.
In this study, volunteers who drank cherry juice had improvements in sleep onset, wake after sleep onset, total sleep time, and sleep efficiency, compared with the placebo group.
This natural sugar found in honey raises your insulin levels slightly, and it lets tryptophan enter the brain more easily. A spoonful before bed, or mixed in with some chamomile tea, can really help put you to sleep.
Consider adding a spoonful of honey to your favorite organic chamomile tea.
Foods To Avoid Before Bed
It is worth noting what foods you should avoid before bed. What you eat can drastically affect how well you sleep.
Ice cream is chock full of fat, so you’re not going to have a chance to burn it off before bed. In the context of sleep, all that sugar pumping your body full of energy right before you hit the bed, can send your body the wrong message.
Even though ice cream might be comforting, it is not the right food to eat before bed. Think about warm milk with a spoonful of honey, instead.
Pizza is a heavy meal, which isn’t ideal before bed. It’s also very acidic and salty, which can lead to heartburn.
While it may be true that a glass of red wine can be beneficial, alcohol in itself disrupts sleep, which means you should not consume wine too late if you need a good night sleep.
While dark chocolate (especially “raw” chocolate) is a healthy super-food, it contains enough natural caffeine to keep some people up at night.
I know many (healthy) people that indulge in a decent amount of dark raw chocolate when their evening sweet tooth kicks in…
And a couple of them noticed significant restlessness after eating dark chocolate in the evening.
What’s YOUR favorite bedtime food? Let me know in the comments section below.
Health by choice, not by chance.
P.S. If you’ve tried all of the foods on this list and increased exercise but still have trouble sleeping, it may be time to try something stronger…
Sleep Tonic is a safe, non-addictive, natural remedy containing 100% homeopathic ingredients especially selected to reduce sleeplessness associated with insomnia. It’s combination of three biochemic cellular-supporting tissue salts to balance the hormones involved in sleep patterns for effective help. This remedy also helped relax tension and increase drowsiness – giving me a great night sleep.