Best Foods That Help You Sleep
Changing lifestyle, work profile, eating habits, leisure activities, and different life stresses influence sleep patterns and results in Sleep-Related Disorders. As a result, some may suffer from them temporarily, while others might experience them as a persistent problem.
If you suffer from SRDs, you might have adopted various strategies to help you sleep better. But one strategy you might not have tried yet is eating foods that help you sleep.
Munching the right foods, especially during your dinner and a couple of hours before bed, helps boost your nutrition quotient and also helps enhance your sleep quality. Here, we list some foods that help you sleep through the night. Stay hooked!
A type of tree nut, almonds are a powerhouse of many nutrients. Apart from several health benefits, it helps you sleep better as it counts among the topmost melatonin-rich foods.
Melatonin is our body’s hormone responsible for regulating our internal clock and sending signals to the body that it is time to sleep.
Further, one ounce of whole almonds has about 77 mg of magnesium and 76 mg of calcium. While more research is needed, both these minerals, especially magnesium, are believed to reduce inflammation in the body, relax the muscles and induce sleep.
It is also a good source of good fats and low in sugar. Easily available, it is one of the best healthy late night snacks to eat to satiate your hunger pangs. You can also eat almonds before bed to experience better sleep quality.
Walnut is another popular tree nut that is abundant in nutrients. It has various minerals and vitamins, including magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and copper.
Not only is it a good source of melatonin, but its fatty acid profile of omega-3 fatty acid has alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). The ALA is converted to DHA in our body, which is known to increase the serotonin or the happy hormone in our body.
All these together are known to promote sleep though we lack evidence of walnuts as foods that promote sleep.
Try chamomile tea if you are wondering what to drink to sleep faster. It is a rich source of flavonoids, the antioxidant known to reduce chronic diseases (cancer, heart diseases) causing inflammation.
It boosts your immunity and helps reduce anxiety and depression to calm you down. It also has an abundant antioxidant, apigenin, which binds to specific brain receptors and makes you feel sleepy.
A study conducted in 2011 found that adults drinking chamomile tea slept 15 minutes faster than those who did not drink this herbal tea. People drinking chamomile tea also experienced better sleep quality with few disruptions.
One of the best fruits that help you sleep, kiwi is highly nutritious and low in calories. It has a significant percentage of vitamins and minerals, including trace minerals, folate, potassium, etc., and yields just 42 calories.
A study indicated that adults consuming two kiwis an hour before bed fell asleep 45% faster and slept 13% longer than those who did not.
The anti-inflammatory antioxidants in kiwis and their effect on serotonin are attributed to the sleep-inducing properties of kiwis. So, if you have insomnia, try eating a kiwi before bed.
If you like eating late at night, give yourself a sweet treat of dark chocolates. It counts among excellent snacks that help you sleep.
Dark chocolate’s rich magnesium content helps keep your circadian rhythms in check and induces better sleep. The same was also established by a study in 2016.
There is a science behind your grandmother asking you to drink a glass of warm milk before bed. Milk has plenty of sleep-promoting compounds like melatonin, tryptophan, calcium C and vitamin D.
When paired with light exercise, milk can be one of the best sleep inducing foods to consume before retiring to bed. It is filling and has low calories, provided you are drinking skimmed milk.
Like milk, bananas also have a decent percentage of tryptophan. Tryptophan helps in the production of serotonin and melatonin, which helps regulate sleep patterns. It is also high in potassium and magnesium. All three work as natural sedatives.
Eating a banana before bed can be an excellent sedative you take to fall asleep.
It includes fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, and trout. These are incredibly healthy and unique in having an exceptional amount of vitamin D. They are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, especially docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
DHA, EPA and vitamin D cumulatively enhance sleep quality by increasing the production of serotonin. Eating fatty fish for dinner is one of the best foods for deep sleep.
It is rich in almost all sleep-inducing and regulating compounds like melatonin, tryptophan, serotonin, and potassium. Additionally, it has high anti-inflammatory properties.
Its polyphenols antioxidants have a positive impact on sleep regulation. A 2018 review found a positive correlation between cherry consumption and improved sleep quality.
Cherries are also rich in fibre and vitamins C and E. Hence, you need not wonder what to eat before bed. If tart cherries are unavailable, you can also drink tart cherry juice for equal benefits.
Barley Grass Powder
Barley grass powder contains several sleep-inducing compounds like tryptophan, GABA, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and zinc. Its leading chemical GABA or Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid is the same chemical present in the brain to induce sleep.
The powder is usually mixed in smoothies, soups, salad dressings or even in plain water for consumption.
You are mistaken if you thought the foods to help you sleep are limited. The list is quite exhaustive. A few other noteworthy food items and drinks that you can try to sleep better are:
- Passionflower tea
- Whole grains
- Seeds like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, etc.
- White rice
- Sweet potato
- Nut butter and toast/crackers
- Goji berry juice
Foods And Drinks to Avoid Before Bed
Now that we know about some of the best foods and drinks for sleep, let’s check out some foods that can potentially disturb your sleep and keep you awake. These should never be eaten late or as bedtime snacks.
Foods like chicken fingers, French fries, fritters, etc., are lip-smacking and easy choices to binge on and enjoy after a hard day. But these are hard to digest and often cause heartburn, bloating, acidity, etc.
If you have a habit of eating before bed, which are your favourites, be prepared for a restless night.
Spicy and Rich Food
They might be delicious but are not the best foods for sleep. They are hard to digest and cause digestive problems like bloating, heartburn, acidity, etc. Its natural consequence would be insomnia.
High Sodium Food
Food items like sushi, soy sauce, smoked meats, etc., are high in sodium and will increase your thirst, leading to frequently interrupted and disturbed sleep.
Fatty food like burgers and pizzas are especially appealing for dinner, but they are harder to digest and take a longer time for it. They can also cause digestive issues and leave you too uncomfortable to sleep properly.
Recipes with tomato-based sauces will have high tomato content that can easily cause heartburn and acid reflux. Hence, it induces sleep disturbance and should be avoided at best.
Like food, you should also avoid drinks like black tea, coffee, alcohol, energy drinks, etc., as they all tend to energise you and leave you sleepless.
Is Eating Before Bed Bad?
Generally, you should not eat before bed as it leads to the intake of unnecessary calories and adds weight. But that depends on person to person.
People with acid reflux and other health problems are recommended not to eat before bed. But satiating your bedtime craving is perfectly okay if you have a craving for it or are habituated to it.
The only precaution you need to exercise is to consume foods that make you sleepy and render several benefits to your body. They should pack plenty of serotonin, melatonin, vitamins, and minerals. You should not binge on fast food and other high-calorie foods.
Getting adequate and restful sleep is all-important for you to lead a healthy life. Thankfully, plenty of sleep-inducing foods have a hearty mix of melatonin, tryptophan, magnesium, calcium and potassium.
Eating them a couple of hours before bed or as a bedtime snack can go a long way in helping you fall asleep fast and deep.
What is the best time to have dinner?
The best time to eat dinner is after five to six hours after lunch and around 6 pm. After this time, your body’s metabolic rate starts falling. So the thumb rule is to have the maximum gap between your last meal and sleep time.
You should go for small, healthy bedtime snacks for unexpected or small cravings to help you sleep.
How long before bed should you stop eating?
There should be a minimum gap of three hours between your last meal and the time you retire to bed. It gives enough time for your body to digest the food and eliminate sleep disturbance causes.
Is it bad to eat a banana at night?
Ayurveda states that eating bananas at night can cause mucus production and can choke your throat. Moreover, it is a heavy fruit that takes time to digest.
However, there is no scientific proof of it. Moreover, bananas are rich in sleep-inducing nutrients like tryptophan, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, and carbs. Given that, you can eat bananas a couple of hours before going to sleep.
Which fruit is best for sleeping?
Tart cherries are especially good for sleeping. Apart from it, you can consume bananas, kiwis, berries, figs, and pineapple to aid in sleeping.
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