What we eat can have a major impact on how quickly our bodies can become weary and we can fall asleep once hitting the sheets. Tossing and turning during the night can be tough to deal with, but it's the ability to fall asleep that can really dictate the amount of hours and restfulness we can get. Thus, eating foods that help us sleep can make us get sleepier sooner, and most likely, stay asleep until morning.
As a certified health coach, I work with clients on relaxation techniques, especially those at night, so that they can clear their minds and soothe their bodies in preparation of going to bed. We discuss how pivotal it is to reduce stimulation, such as gaming, television programs, social media and work emails, as well as unhealthy behavioral patterns that can delay our schedules in bedtime preparation and keep us more alert than we'd like to be. It's also best to avoid work emails for matters of stress, as any anxiety can keep our brains consumed by tense and negative thoughts that will prevent us from quieting the mind and falling asleep. In addition to avoiding these traps, eating the right foods can help put us to sleep. Look for these eleven nutrients to get a sounder sleep overall.
1. Amino Acid Glycine
This amino acid can make us sleepy and act as a sleep aid in helping us quiet our minds and power down our bodies at a reasonable hour. "Collagen contains high levels of the amino acid glycine, which acts as a calming neurotransmitter. Glycine can help promote faster onset of sleep as well as deeper sleep," says Corey Friese, VP of Product Strategy at Vital Proteins. Consider taking a collagen supplement before bed to boost overall health and sleepiness.
Tryptophan can relax the body and promote tiredness and reduction in anxiety. Apart from the renowned turkey (the old Thanksgiving theory!), walnuts, dairy, oats and eggs are great sources. Tryptophan helps the body produce more serotonin and melatonin, which also aid in sleep and restoration. Have some warm milk, cheese and crackers, or walnuts in oatmeal before bed.
Known to possess sedative properties, lactucarium is found in lettuce, such as romaine, leafy greens, and mint, for instance. Seen as a comparison to opium in the brain, the mechanisms can induce relaxation and can help lower any stress that you might have from earlier in the day. Have a salad with dinner or add some mint to decaffeinated tea.
4. Vitamin B6
This essential vitamin can promote tiredness, as it increases serotonin and melatonin in the body to enhance sleep and help us power down faster. Found in fish, such as salmon, tuna and halibut, as well as in raw garlic and pistachio nuts, it makes for an ideal dinner or snack before bed. Throw garlic in with vegetables or eat a handful of pistachio nuts with a square of dark chocolate for dessert.
Known as the "happy" hormone, it can relax the mind and body, promote "feel good" feelings and boost our moods. Such effects can help us fall asleep faster and stay asleep better, in hopes of waking up refreshed and full of energy. Great options include oily fish, such as salmon and tuna, dark chocolate (who doesn't like that, right?), olive oil and nuts.
Usually known for its tranquilizer effects in tea form, chamomile makes the body more tired and also acts an an anti-inflammatory, which is great for promoting a deep sleep and restorative awakening. Getting rid of inflammation in the body can help us sleep better overall and make our bodies healthier and happier each day. Brew up a cup before bed with mint and lemon.
This key nutrient reduces soreness in tense muscles, which can help relax the body and promote greater circulation around the parts. Plus, directing more blood flow to the body and away from the brain will also help quiet the mind and any potential, obsessive thoughts. Eat a banana before bed, as it is high in magnesium, or have fish, oats and whole grains or nuts and seeds.
Known to promote sleepiness, it can be consumed through whole foods or in capsule, supplement form. By supplement, having around 3mg as a serving is best. Another great option is to eat cherries or drink cherry juice before bed. While it is definitely a known trick, it is still valid! Have a few cherries fresh or throw them in a bedtime smoothie with milk, nuts, bananas and dark chocolate, as all ingredients work together to promote sleep.
Found in dairy products, it can work with magnesium to promote sleepiness by relaxing the body. Plus, calcium products usually contain other great nutrients with fats, which can make us feel more weighed down and ready for bed. Have some cheese, cottage cheese or Greek yogurt before bed to feel relaxed and to unwind. Plus, it's a healthier food to eat at that hour anyway!
10. Healthy Fats
Some experts suggest that consuming healthy fats can relax the muscles, reduce tension and stress and boost our moods. Plus, fats take more effort to digest, which can keep us feeling full and rather weighed down. Eat avocado, fish, red meat, olive oil, and nuts for optimal sleepiness. Plus, there's tons of protein that goes with it to speed metabolism!
Having enough protein can make us feel full at night, and it'll be easier to fall asleep without our bellies roaring. However, there is a fine line: eating too much protein can make our bodies too acidic and can complicate digestion, leaving us feeling too full and uncomfortable to fall sleep. Eat a proper portion of protein and pair with foods high in other nutrients listed above for the perfect balance!
Setting an alarm to remind yourself to go to bed, as well as eating the right foods to make us sleepy can help us fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly during the night. Having adequate sleep is so important for our overall health, and so it's important to be mindful of how easily it is to fall asleep and how much time you provide yourself with to reap those beneficial hours.
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