Best Foods To Sleep Well

close up photography of woman sleeping
Photo by bruce mars on Pexels.com

Eating the right foods can help you fall asleep, stay asleep, and wake feeling refreshed.

Four main vitamins and minerals that can be found in food that aid in promoting sleep:

1. Tryptophan

2. Magnesium

3.  Calcium

4. B6. 

Tryptophan is an amino acid that when ingested gets turned into the neurotransmitter serotonin and then converted into the hormone melatonin.

Foods with tryptophan:

  • Dairy products (cheese, milk, low-fat yogurt)
  • Poultry (chicken, turkey)
  • Seafood (salmon, sardines, shrimp, halibut, cod, tuna)
  • Nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, sunflower, pumpkin, flax, sesame, cashews, peanuts)
  • Legumes (black beans, split peas, chickpeas, lima beans, kidney beans)
  • Fruits (bananas, avocado, apples, peaches)
  • Vegetables (broccoli, seaweed, spinach, turnip greens, asparagus, onions)
  • Grains (oats, corn, barley, rice, wheat)

 

magnesium and sleep

Magnesium

Magnesium is a natural relaxant that helps deactivate adrenaline. This mineral helps you fall and stay asleep.  Sources of magnesium are:

  • Dark leafy greens (collard greens, kale, baby spinach)
  • Nuts and seeds (almonds, cashews, pecans, pine nuts, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, brazil nuts)
  • Wheat germ
  • Fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, halibut)
  • Soybeans
  • Banana
  • Avocados
  • Low-fat yogurt

Calcium

Calcium is another mineral that helps the brain make melatonin. A lack of calcium can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night and have difficulty returning to sleep.

Sources of calcium include:

  • Dark leafy greens
  • Low-fat milk
  • Cheeses
  • Yogurt
  • Sardines
  • Fortified cereals
  • Soybeans
  • Fortified orange juice
  • Enriched breads and grains
  • Green snap peas
  • Okra
  • Broccoli

calcium and sleep

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 also helps convert tryptophan into melatonin. A deficiency in B6 has been linked with lowered serotonin levels, poor sleep, symptoms of depression and mood disorders which can lead to insomnia.

Highest sources of B6 are:

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pistachio nuts
  • Flaxseed
  • Fish (salmon, tuna, halibut)
  • Meat (tuna, lean pork, lean beef, chicken)
  • Dried Prunes
  • Bananas
  • Avocado
  • Spinach

bananas

 

Melatonin

Many of the vitamins and minerals that are on this list are there because they help aid in the production of turning serotonin into melatonin.

Foods which naturally contain melatonin include:

  • Fruits and vegetables (grapes, tomatoes, olives, cucumber, tart cherries, corn, asparagus, pomegranate, broccoli)
  • Grains (barley, rice, rolled oats)
  • Nuts and Seeds (walnuts, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, mustard seeds, peanuts)

 

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Worst Foods and Drinks for Sleep

  • Foods and drinks that contain caffeine

  • Spicy foods
  • Alcohol
  • Foods high in fat 
  • Foods high in protein
  • Foods containing water (you’ll wake to use rest room)
  • Heavy meals before bedtime

 

Great Drinks for Sleep

Many drinks contain essential vitamins and minerals that help aid with sleep, including:

  • tea for sleepWarm milk
  • Almond milk
  • Valerian tea
  • Chamomile tea
  • Tart cherry juice
  • Passion fruit tea
  • Peppermint tea

More Foods To Help You Sleep Well

Figs

“Figs pack potassium, magnesium, calcium, and iron,” says Jaclyn London, MS, RD, CDN, Nutrition Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute.

“These minerals help with blood flow and muscle contraction, which are key for falling asleep.” Besides crushing your dessert craving, each fig also packs some additional fiber that’ll keep you full.

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Watermelon

It’s all in the name. Each 2-cup serving is half (you guessed it) water, which will hydrate you before bed and eliminate post-dinner hunger pains due to the fiber and volume.

Remember, not too much or you’ll wake to use the rest room.

sweet potato

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Sweet Potato Toast

Swap baked sweet potatoes for traditional nighttime toast, advises London.

“Sweet potatoes are great sources of potassium, magnesium, and calciumto help you relax,” she says. Top with a drizzle of honey and pinch of sea salt, or a tablespoon of nut butter for a post-dinner treat.

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Pistachios

Pistachios hit the sleep-inducing jackpot, packing in protein, vitamin B6, and magnesium, all of which contribute to better sleep. Refrain from a shell-cracking frenzy, though.

“Don’t exceed a 1-ounce portion of nuts,” London warns. “Anything too high in calories can have the reverse effect of keeping you awake!”

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Prunes

The nutrients in dried plums — vitamin B6, calcium, and magnesium, to name a few — help make melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep. Use prunes as a whole-grain toast topping, mix them into trail mix, or eat them on their own about 30 minutes before bedtime.

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Canteloupe

Since dehydration can impact your ability to fall and stay asleep (not to mention your energy levels overall!), choosing watery fruits like melon can make up for any deficits.

London also recommends thirst-quenching apples, oranges, and pears.

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String Cheese

Still can’t silence those stomach grumbles? Your kids’ snack stash might come in handy. Part-skim mozzarella cheese (a.k.a. string cheese) provides a satisfying protein, especially if you pair it with whole grain crackers.

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Nut Butter

Almond or peanut butter also pack in filling protein too. Spread it on graham crackers, a banana, or that sweet potato toast. Again, keep your dollop under a tablespoon so you’re not feeling too stuffed before heading to bed.

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Cherries

The best way to get a good night’s sleep is to increase your melatonin intake, recommends Michelle Dudash, a registered dietician.

Cherries, along with nuts and oats, are a natural source of melatonin. When eaten regularly, they can help regulate your sleep cycle.

And don’t forget WEIGHTED BLANKETS! Click below for recommendations.

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home-products/blanket-reviews/a24734005/best-weighted-blankets

 

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Sleep Well & Stay Healthy!  

 

Blog contact: maria.dorfner@yahoo.com

 

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