Sleep… we all need more of it; we all WANT more of it, but how many of you toss and turn at night because your brain keeps running? It’s not an uncommon phenomenon, and it can be draining. Especially when you only have so many hours to allow for sleep at night; you want to use ALL of them, so we’ve put together a list of 6 foods to help you sleep better at night.
First, lets go over some nutrients that promote sleep. Because once you understand what your body needs in order to relax and make you tired, it’s easy to find snacks and other foods that can help you sleep better at night…
6 Nutrients to Promote Better Sleep
- Magnesium: promotes sleep and stress-relief. A vital component in OVER 300 physiological process, including hydration, muscle relaxation, adrenaline deactivation, and sleep. If you experience cramps, twitching or tight muscles, an increase in magnesium in your diet will give you a higher quality of sleep.
- Calcium: allows the brain to use tryptophan more efficiently, which in turn increases melatonin and serotonin production. Low calcium levels are linked to disturbed sleep patterns (particularly during your REM phase).
- Carbohydrates: eating carbs 4 hours before bed can help hasten sleep because they boost serotonin and tryptophan. Whole grains can even affect your circadian rhythm and induce sleep (hence why so many people take naps after Thanksgiving dinner!)
- Vitamin D: assists the body in absorbing calcium and phosphorus. Low vitamin D levels often lead to disrupted sleep and excessive sleepiness during the day.
- Potassium: increases sleep efficiency and reduces episodes of waking once asleep. Also reduces muscle spasms and contractions that can often wake you.
- Tryptophan: precursor to serotonin production. A sleep-enhancing amino acid that helps produce not only serotonin, but melatonin as well.
Now that we’ve gone over some nutrients that will help you sleep better, you should be better able to choose foods in the evening that will help you sleep… but just in case you’re like us and don’t want to go looking things up, here’s 6 to get you started!
Walnuts are a great source of tryptophan and they also have their OWN source of melatonin! You can also choose almonds or pistachios as well. Just be careful! Any more than a 1oz. portion of any type of nut can have the OPPOSITE effect and make you more awake.
Chamomile tea, and other herbal teas, increase glycine levels in the body. Glycine is a chemical that relaxes nerves and muscles, and it considered a mild sedative, so drinking this before bed is a great way to tire your body out. PRO TIP: add some honey to your tea too! Honey will increase your insulin levels and allow tryptophan to enter your brain more easily.
Sweet potatoes are a great source of magnesium, potassium, AND calcium. WOW! You’ve got three big ones all in one with this potato. I personally like to make sweet mashed potatoes and add them to my dinner meal prep, but that’s just me.
Oatmeal is another great whole grain that will increase your blood sugar levels which will in turn make you feel sleepy. PRO TIP: add some berries to your oatmeal to make it more like a dessert!
Cherries are great because they have their own source of melatonin PLUS will help raise blood sugar to make you tired. Maybe you can even add them to that oatmeal like we talked about!
Kale is LOADED with calcium, so it’s a great choice to help your brain use that tryptophan to its best ability! You can also choose another lefty green like spinach or mustard greens as well.
So there you have it! This list is just a starting point, but it will get you going in the right direction if you’re having trouble sleeping and looking for natural ways to induce better sleep.
About the Author: Jordyn D’Arco is the Marketing Director here at Fit For All. She is mom to baby Sydney, wife to our head trainer, Paul, and the resident taco addict (“Do it for the tacos!” is her workout mantra, after all). In addition, she enjoys making delicious tea-lemonade, playing video games, and playing with her two fur babies, Winston and Lady. You’ll see her up front at the desk, and occasionally joining you in a class… don’t be alarmed if you catch her filming you!
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