“Sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together.” – Thomas Dekker
A good night’s sleep is essential for our bodies. “The consequences of sleep deprivation are being increasingly recognized. These problems range from car crashes and workplace errors to immune dysfunction. Insufficient or poor quality sleep has been linked to heart problems and to obesity,” says Dr. Wallace E. Johnson, director of the Center for Primary Care at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
We need to be getting at least eight hours of sleep a night to function properly. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Some of us have trouble getting to sleep, or staying asleep. Nutritionists know a natural way to help our bodies sleep better: food. There are foods that are perfectly designed to help us sleep better. Here are the top foods that nutritionists suggest in order to get a better night’s sleep.
Here Are 10 Foods That Will Help You Sleep Better Tonight
Milk (Almond, Soy or Dairy, whatever your preference) often is a great source of calcium. This night-time snack has just the right amount of calcium that you need for your brain to unwind at the end of the day. The calcium helps your brain produce melatonin, which is the hormone that tells your body it’s time to sleep.
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith says, “Calcium is effective in stress reduction and stabilization of nerve fibers, including those in the brain.” The next time you have trouble falling asleep, grab some cheese and a glass of milk.
Rice is a quick and easy meal that will help you fall asleep. Rice is a food that has a high glycemic index. This basically means that it helps your brain tell your body that it’s time for some shut eye.
Studies have shown that people who eat certain types of rice, like Jasmine rice, often report having an easier time falling asleep at the end of the day. “These kinds of foods may boost tryptophan and serotonin, two brain chemicals involved in sleep,” said Dr. Chin Moi Chow.
Fish have a natural sedative chemical in them known as tryptophan. According to a group of scientists, “Fatty fish (>5% fat) is a good source of vitamin D and omega-3 FAs, nutrients important for the regulation of serotonin and therefore sleep regulation.”
Tuna, halibut, and cod all have the highest levels of tryptophan, so after a delicious fish meal you’ll probably feel the urge to lay down and take a nap. These fish will make it easier for you to fall asleep naturally without having to take any kind of medications.
Tea is definitely one of the best ways to get yourself to fall asleep when sleep is hard to come by. Specifically, chamomile tea is pretty much every nutritionist’s go-to drink that can help you fall asleep. Chamomile is a natural remedy for sleepless nights that has been in use for hundreds and hundreds of years. Plus, it’s fairly inexpensive and delicious.
According to a group of doctors, “Chamomile is widely regarded as a mild tranquillizer and sleep-inducer. Sedative effects may be due to the flavonoid, apigenin that binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain.”
You know how you feel ready to pass out after a big Thanksgiving dinner? That’s because turkey is actually helpful when it comes to making you feel sleepy. Just like fish, turkey is high in tryptophan which is important for digestion, nerves, and serotonin.
Registered dietician and author Elizabeth Somer, MA says, “When levels of serotonin are high, you’re in a better mood, sleep better, and have a higher pain tolerance…” Therefore, if you’re having trouble falling asleep, try making a turkey sandwich for your bedtime snack. With any luck, you’ll feel like you just had a delicious Thanksgiving meal.
Looking for another source of tryptophan? This natural sedative can also be found in bananas. There’s also a good amount of magnesium in bananas, which is a vitamin that can also help you fall asleep. Nutritionists suggest having a banana before bed because they’re such a good source of vitamins that our bodies need to function.
“Bananas are an excellent source of magnesium and potassium, which help to relax overstressed muscles. They also contain tryptophan, which convert to serotonin and melatonin, the brain’s key calming hormones,” says Dr. Dalton-Smith.
7. Whole grain bread
When you’re looking for something to eat with your turkey sandwich, make sure you’re picking whole grain bread.
Registered dietician Amy Jamieson-Petonic says, “… different types of carbs affect sleep differently. Choose complex carbohydrates—the type found in 100 percent whole grain breads and pastas, oatmeal, brown rice, and dried beans and peas. On the other, avoid simple carbohydrates…”
Carbs will give you a spike of glucose, but then once they get digested, you’ll be left feeling sleepy. Put together whole grain bread with turkey, and you’ll feel a good dip in your energy levels so you will be able to drop off to sleep at the end of the day.
Foods that are rich in fiber are a great way to get better sleep at night. According to a group of doctors, “Low fiber and high saturated fat and sugar intake is associated with lighter, less restorative sleep with more arousals.”
Fiber helps your body resist spikes in blood sugar, which often hinder your body’s ability to produce melatonin. When you eat food that is rich in fiber, you’ll find that it’s a lot easier to fall asleep at night – and stay asleep – since fiber is associated with deep sleep.
Nuts like almonds and walnuts are rich in tryptophan and magnesium, two vitamins that help your body produce melatonin.
Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum says, “Almonds are a winner. They contain magnesium, which promotes both sleep and muscle relaxation. And they have the added benefit of supplying proteins that can help maintain a stable blood sugar level while sleeping, and help promote sleep by switching you from your alert adrenaline cycle to your rest-and-digest cycle.”
Like bananas, nuts are a great bedtime snack to help our body know when it’s time to fall asleep. You can also use nut butter and pair it with jam and whole grain bread so you can make the perfect, sleepy time meal.
Cut sugar off of your menu!
Honey is the perfect food to add to your milk or tea. You can even add some honey to whole grain toast. Honey is full of natural sugars that make it easier for your body to send tryptophan right to the brain, which will help your brain tell the rest of your body that it’s time for sleep, says nutritionist Lindsey Duncan, ND, CN. Take some chamomile tea with a touch of honey right before bed, and enjoy a long night’s sleep.