Foods that help you sleep

Sleep is essential for good health. Sleep problems can affect your daily activities and productivity. Eating the right foods can help improve your quality of sleep.
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A list of foods that may affect your sleep

Before we go into details, let us point out that the first rule is to remember not to eat two hours before bedtime – to give your body enough time to digest. Fat is known to slow down digestion even more, therefore avoiding eating fatty foods in the evening is a good choice.

Foods that will hinder your sleep

As already mentioned, foods that contain lots of fat may hinder your sleep (if consumed prior to going to bed). Instead, eat lean chicken or turkey meat, which is rich in tryptophan. You are also advised not to eat legumes, tomatoes, eggplant and spinach since this food contains tyramine and tyramine stimulates adrenaline.

Foods that will help you sleep better

Below you can find a short list of foods that will positively affect your ability to sleep. Eating such food will not magically make you feel sleepy in a moment, but consuming these foods may help you sleep better over time.

For effective sleep you need the amino acid called tryptophan. Vitamins B1, B3, B6, folic acid (B9), vitamin C and calcium, magnesium, zinc, chromium and selenium are also important components when it comes to sleeping.

Below is a list of foods to point out.

Almonds are recognized as one of the best foods that can combat sleep problems. Almonds contain magnesium that induces muscle relaxation. It also contains protein that stabilizes the blood sugar during sleep. For a bedtime snack, add almonds with almond butter. Read more about blood sugar in this article on blood sugar levels.

Although tea does contain caffeine which can keep you awake, decaffeinated tea can help you sleep. Chamomile tea is a particular variety of tea that promotes sleep. Green tea can also encourage sleep; just be sure to choose the decaffeinated green tea if you are drinking it before sleeping.

Milk contains tryptophan that has sleep-inducing nutrients. Calcium can effectively reduce stress in the body and can stabilize the nerve fibers in the brain. Other dairy products like yogurt and cheese also have the same effect as milk.

Hard-boiled egg
Food high in carbohydrates and sugar can put the body into a ‘sugar roller coaster’. This causes blood sugar spikes which in turn cause sleep problems like waking in the middle of the night. Try to incorporate high protein snacks like hard boiled eggs before bedtime. This does not only help you sleep, it also helps you stay asleep.

A study in the University of Pennsylvania says that a glass of cherry juice can induce sleep. Cherries increase the melatonin production which helps cure insomnia. You can consume the whole fruit or drink cherry purees instead.

Fish that contain vitamin B6 like tuna, salmon and halibut can increase the production of melatonin which is a sleep inducing hormone.

The lack of calcium is associated with sleep problems. Kale contains calcium which can trigger sleep.

While oatmeal is mostly eaten during breakfast, it can also work as a bedtime snack. The complex carbohydrates present in oatmeal triggers the production of serotonin in the body. Serotonin is a relaxing hormone that enables you to sleep faster. Add banana and apple to your oatmeal to add more flavor.

Other foods

Foods that are rich in tryptophan are the following:

  • beans,
  • turkey,
  • chicken,
  • milk and dairy products,
  • seafood,
  • eggs,
  • hazelnuts,
  • almonds,
  • lentils,
  • peanuts,
  • soybeans,
  • millet,
  • oats,
  • rye and rice,
  • sesame,
  • sunflower seeds.
  • Remember, eating foods listed above will not make you feel sleepy in an instant. Other factors such as stress level, exhaustion, some medical conditions and even weather can affect your sleep.

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