The 8 Foods You Should Be Eating If You Want That Great Night's Sleep
7 minute read
Are the foods you eat helping you get a great night’s sleep, or are they sabotaging your sleep? You know that a cup of coffee at 9:00 pm can make you toss and turn, but did you know that some foods can help you get that restful sleep you crave?
If sleep has been alluding to you, it’s time to change your approach, and try eating something new. The following foods can help your body relax and promote quality sleep.
Yes, it seems odd that sauerkraut could help you sleep, but it’s true: fermented foods can improve your digestive health.
The microorganisms required for fermentation also come with good bacteria and enzymes that boost your gut health. When your gut is healthy and functioning properly, your body is more at ease, and you will find it easier to relax.
The key is knowing which fermented foods still contain the friendly bacteria you want. Some products you buy in the store have been pasteurized and cooked, which kills the good bacteria.
Some examples of fermented foods that might help you sleep are sauerkraut, pickles, kimchi, soy sauce, kefir, yogurt, and apple cider vinegar.
1. Starchy Tubers
If you’re going to try to heal your gut by adding probiotics and healthy bacteria, then you’re going to want to support that bacteria by feeding it.
Starchy tubers are a great food for your gut bacteria. Examples of starchy tubers include sweet potatoes, white potatoes, potato starch, plantains, taro, and yucca.
2. Tart Cherries
Cherries are not only delicious, but they’re a good way to get more B vitamins and magnesium, but it’s the melatonin in cherries that you want. That’s right, the molecule that helps you sleep can be found in cherries.
Tart cherries are one of a few foods that contain natural melatonin. This discovery has intrigued researchers, and they’re looking to using tart cherry juice as a cure for insomnia and as a treatment for other inflammatory problems.
The good news is that you don’t have to wait for any research, you can start using tart cherry juice today to see if it helps you sleep better.
Bananas are loaded with potassium and magnesium, which are natural muscle relaxants, so they can help your body feel at ease and calm.
Bananas also contain the amino acid L-tryptophan, the same property in turkey that makes you sleepy after Thanksgiving. When you consume L-tryptophan, your body converts it into 5-HTP in the brain, which is then transformed into serotonin and melatonin, both are great sleep aids that you can buy in the pharmacy, or you can get from simply eating a banana.
4. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is an anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and it’s slow-digesting fuel. It’s suggested that you keep a jar and a spoon by your bedside, and if you wake up hungry, you should have a spoonful of coconut oil instead of a snack.
| Related: 18 Coconut Oil Uses for Food, Body & Skin Health |
5. Warm Chamomile Tea
For some, this is known as a bedtime tea. The soothing flavor is gently comforting, while the flavonoids and terpenoids are hard at work performing as an antioxidant to ward off illness.
Chamomile tea has long been used to help with insomnia and other ailments. Studies have backed up this tradition by proving that chamomile can help with cardiovascular conditions, boost your immune system, and offer some protection against cancer.
At first, it may seem counterintuitive to carb-load before dinner because carbohydrates cause a spike in blood sugar levels and a burst of energy, but it’s that crash you’re looking for.
After eating carbs, your body produces insulin to bring down your blood sugar, and this can cause the reverse reaction and prompt a crash or sleepiness. Not only that, but when the body produces insulin, it also releases tryptophan and serotonin, and both of those chemicals help the brain relax and ward off anxiety.
7. Almond Butter
Almond butter is loaded with fat and protein, which slows down the digestion process. That means that it’s absorbed gradually through the entire night, keeping your blood sugar steady. This prevents dips in glucose levels, which can cause you to wake up hungry. Almonds also contain magnesium and tryptophan to promote relaxation and sleep.
Pair your almond butter with a slice of toast, and you’ve got a great bedtime snack that will help you get to sleep and then stay asleep.
8. Warm Milk
This one you’ve probably heard about, but do you know why warm milk helps you sleep? The reason why, according to scientists, might all be in your head.
While there is tryptophan in milk, it’s there in very small doses. What seems to be working in milk’s favor is the association with sleep and comfort. For many, the feelings of being nursed or breastfed before bedtime are triggered with warmed milk, which prompts relaxation, comfort, and sleepiness.
If you routinely have warm milk before bed, just what can be the trigger too, as your body will recognize your circadian rhythm and begin releasing the sleep hormone melatonin.
The Bottom Line
If you have trouble sleeping, before you run to the medicine cabinet, try some of the following foods to see if you can encourage your body to relax and sleep better in a natural way.
When you do find something that works, try doing it regularly. There’s evidence that having a bedtime routine signals the body and the brain that sleep is coming. The brain then releases melatonin, and you’re ready for restorative sleep.
Keeping your body free of pain, anxiety, tension, and stress is also key to a good night’s sleep. Eating healthy and exercising on a regular basis are great ways to stay in good condition physically and mentally and to promote a relaxing night’s sleep.