While most of us are overworked and sleep deprived, it’s not always easy to actually fall asleep once the lights are out. Below are a list of foods that will help you get more (and better quality) shut eye.
1. Almonds: They contain magnesium which promotes both sleep and muscle relaxation. Nuts are a good source of protein, which helps keep blood sugar levels steady and relaxes the body because it has less work to do while you’re sleeping. A piece of cheese or hard-boiled egg is a good option, too. Most of the protein is in the white part of the egg, so if you’re worried about added calories, skip the yolk!
*Tip: Just don’t go for heavy, hard-to-digest protein like red meat. And if you do have a serving of chicken at dinner, eat a complex carb, like a sweet potato or brown rice with it to keep everything balanced.
2. Tea: Not only is it nice and soothing to sip on a hot cup of tea while you’re winding down at night, but some teas like chamomile and green tea contain ingredients that help promote sleep. Just make sure you pick decaffeinated!
3. Miso: The next time you call for Chinese takeout, keep your order healthy and sleep-friendly with miso soup. Miso contains amino acids that help boost the production of melatonin, which is a natural hormone that can aids sleep. Bonus: Research shows that warm liquids like soup and tea may also relieve cold symptoms, helping you sleep better when you’re feeling under the weather.
4. Dairy: Yogurt, milk and cheese contain a sleep-inducing nutrient: Calcium. It’s effective in stress reduction and stabilization of nerve fibers in the brain, which promotes relaxation. Another key player is tryptophan, which is used to make serotonin (the “happy” hormone), and causes you to feel calm and sleepy.
5. Complex carbohydrates also increase sleep-inducing tryptophan in the blood stream, so having a serving of whole grains like brown rice or quinoa (also high in protein) is a good choice for dinner. You could also opt for delicious sweet potatoes. They contain potassium, which is a muscle relaxer and helps the body prepare for a good night’s sleep.
Foods NOT to consume at night? Anything that contains caffeine, like coffee, soda and chocolate. Alcohol is also a big sleep buzz-kill because it goes straight into your bloodstream and metabolizes quickly, which can cause you to wake up multiple times in the night. And sorry, fatty and greasy foods are also a no-go because they stimulate the production of acid in the stomach, which can cause heartburn. Not exactly a recipe for a good night’s sleep, huh?
And remember to allow your body at least two hours to digest your food before you hit the sack. Sweet dreams!
– ELLEN COLLIS
Ellen Collis is a blogger at Wannabe Health Nut and Health Coach in NYC, who graduated from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free health consultation to discuss how she can assist you with your nutrition and lifestyle goals. She would love nothing more than to help you have more energy, feel fabulous in your own skin and live a healthy life that doesn’t require giving up your favorite foods.