Can’t sleep? How about a bedtime snack? Waking up hungry can disrupt your sleep cycle. What then are the best things to eat before bed to get a good night sleep? Everybody is aware of the value that eating certain foods has on our daily lives. Eating the right foods gives us the energy we need to complete tasks, strengthen our immune system against diseases, improve cognitive functions, heal wounds and repair bones and tissues. Too often, healthy eating is rarely thought about when it comes to sleep. Here, we hope to shed light on the fantastic benefits that food can provide in helping you sleep and stay asleep- so that you wake feeling refreshed the next day.
Main Vitamins and Minerals
There are four main vitamins and minerals can be found in food that aid in promoting a good night’s sleep:
Some of these substances help the body produce melatonin, the hormone that is responsible for regulating your sleep/wake patterns. When you’re close to bedtime, melatonin production naturally increases to assist you sleep. In the morning when you’re ready to wake up, melatonin production tapers off to allow you to be awake.
Some foods are naturally packed with these essential vitamins and minerals, and eating certain foods at certain times can tip the scales towards a successful night of quality sleep. Most of these are available as over-the-counter supplements, but like with most supplements, it’s better to get them from the foods you eat.
Here are some things to eat to fall asleep faster and prevent sleep deprivation.
Although bananas are generally considered an energy-boosting food, they are also a great source of magnesium which relaxes muscles. They also contain serotonin and melatonin, which aid sleep. Bananas also include tryptophan, an amino acid that stimulates your body to produce serotonin that supports your body to regulate sleep.
Almonds are an excellent source of melatonin and the sleep-inducing mineral magnesium, two qualities that make them the best food to eat before bed. If you want a snack before bed that doesn’t require any preparation, grab a handful of almonds. Almond is a rich source of the sleep-supporting amino acid tryptophan, and also nutrient magnesium, a natural muscle relaxer. Plus, the protein in almonds will keep you full all night.
3. Dairy Products
Dairy products such as milk, low-fat yogurt and cottage cheese are an excellent source of tryptophan, an amino acid that’s needed to form the sleep-regulating brain chemical serotonin. Serotonin is also said to increase the secretion of the sleep hormone melatonin. Having warm milk at bedtime is also an excellent way to work to reach the required servings of milk and alternatives each day, and can be a refreshing way to unwind.
Whole-grain cereal is a good source of fiber, with some types containing 4-7 grams per serving. Fiber helps to fill you up, so you’re less likely to reach for more sugary snacks in the evenings. This is a significant benefit for weight management. Whole-grain cereals are usually an excellent source of many primary nutrients including B vitamins. If your diet is lacking in vitamins and minerals, a bowl of whole-grain cereal in the evening can help.
5. Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is packed with tryptophan, but also has been known to increase your metabolism so you can burn extra calories while you sleep and through the next morning. For an added benefit, put the peanut butter on half of the whole-wheat bread to get those sleep-inducing carbs.
Eating Salmon or any other fish at least once a week has been proved to enhance sleep in children and adults. It has an omega-3 fatty acid in oily fish, one in particular called DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) has been proven to enhance the production of sleep-inducing prostaglandins and melatonin. Vitamin D in fatty fish is also thought to promote sleep.
7. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile is a very light flavored tea. This herbal tea, along with similar variations, such as lavender and lemon balm can be used to aid insomnia and help to develop a healthy sleep cycle and overall wellbeing. One of the active compounds in the chamomile plant is apigenin; studies have determined that this compound reduced locomotor activity. Flavonoids, mucilages, and coumarins are also present in chamomile and may have a calming effect on the body, that provides comfortable sleep.
Cherries act as a natural sleep aid with its melatonin ingredients, a naturally composed hormone that waves to our bodies that it’s time for bed. Cherries are rich in melatonin, an antioxidant also found in the human body that helps improve sleeping. Eating cherries as part of a late afternoon or early evening snack may help you to sleep properly.
Spinach has a source of tryptophan. This is an excellent source of folate, magnesium, and vitamins B6 and C, which are all critical co-factors in synthesizing serotonin, and subsequently, melatonin. Spinach also contains glutamine an amino acid which stimulates the body to get rid of the cellular toxins that lead to sleeplessness.
Honey contains a sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan that is beneficial for defeating insomnia. Thus, to improve sleep, some people have taught the practice of mixing a teaspoon of honey into one glass of warm milk or herbal tea before rest. The natural sugar found in honey raises our insulin slightly and releases tryptophan, the compound famous for making us sleepy.
Poor sleeping habits can mean many things, from full-blown insomnia to frequently waking through the night to difficulty falling asleep. If you’ve ever had trouble sleeping, consider the foods in your daily diet to see how they might be impacting your sleep cycle. Finding the best things to eat before bed that won’t keep you up all night is essential for both your physical and mental health.