Understanding the impact of sleep on our physical and mental health is important to give your sleep health the attention it rightly needs. A consistently good sleep quality ensures prevention against weight gain, proper memory consolidation, increased alertness, and good hormonal regulation, among other health benefits. From exercising to following a sleep schedule and from meditation to aromatherapy, we try so many things every day to uplift our sleep health.
Besides maintaining such healthy habits, you should also follow a healthy diet packed with foods that help you sleep. By making the small change of filling your diet with sleep-inducing foods that contain components like melatonin, tryptophan, magnesium, etc., you can drastically improve the quality of your night sleep. Let us, therefore, look at some of the most beneficial foods to help you sleep better.
Bananas are one of the most popular food items globally, thanks to their super nutritious nature. Bananas are packed with potassium and magnesium components, which make it easier to fall asleep at night. Although bananas are known as one of those foods that make you sleepy, it is advisable to eat them at least 2 hours before bedtime to avoid indigestion. These sweet elongated fruits are not only one of the easiest fruits to consume but are also easy to carry along, thanks to their natural packaging.
#2 Tart Cherries
The body’s natural sleep hormone, which regulates the circadian rhythm called melatonin, is also found naturally in certain fruits and vegetables. Among these, tart cherries are one of the richest sources of melatonin. According to this past study, juice made of tart cherries can prove beneficial for combating insomnia. Insomnia is one of the most severe sleep disorders which can keep one awake in the night and disrupt their sleep schedule. Two 1-ounce tart cherry juice servings in a day, taken regularly, are enough to fix your broken sleep schedule.
We have often heard about the miraculous effect that a warm glass of milk, taken before going to bed, can affect our health. Milk contains a crucial sleep-inducing component called tryptophan. This amino acid helps regulate the melatonin and serotonin levels in the body. The presence of calcium and vitamin D in milk makes it a complete sleep-inducing drink. Calcium helps the body process the tryptophan while vitamin D assists in the sleep/wake cycle’s proper functioning.
#4 Almonds & Walnuts
Almonds and walnuts are the perfect bedtime snack that you can have to improve your sleep quality. Apart from containing melatonin, almonds are also richly packed in minerals such as magnesium and calcium. Magnesium present in almonds helps soothe the mind and reduce the risk of anxiety. Just like almonds, walnuts are also a great source of melatonin. They also contain omega 3 fatty acids that boost your sleep quality. It is advisable though to soak the serving of almonds and walnuts in water previously to get rid of the dust and tannins which may increase the bad cholesterol level in the body and leave a foul taste in the mouth. To avoid gastrointestinal problems, it is better to limit yourself to only a handful of walnuts and almonds.
#5 Fatty Fish
Do not forget to include some form of a fatty fish in your dinner as it is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. These polyunsaturated fatty acids help regulate the DHA (docosahexaenoic acid level) in the body and prevents the risk of low melatonin. Consuming fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, sardines, etc., can reduce the risk of inflammation and control the blood pressure and heart rate. The anti-inflammatory properties of omega 3s and proper DHA regulation help combat another major sleep disorder known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Salmon fish is considered one of the best forms of food that can help reduce anxiety.
This green little sweet and tangy fruit is not only rich in antioxidants and vitamins but is also a very healthy food for better sleep quality and improving the ease of falling asleep. Known popularly as the magical fruit that can assist in weight loss, consumption of kiwis regularly can help regulate the melatonin level in the body. Kiwis are one of those fruits that help you reduce weight and feel full at the same time. Researchers studying the effect of kiwis on sleep problems found that fruit can increase sleep duration and limit nighttime sleep interruptions.
#7 Herbal Teas
Sleep experts repeatedly caution against consuming caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee after sundown as the caffeine can interfere with melatonin production. If you haven’t already tried it, herbal teas are a great alternative for your regular cup of coffee. A cup of warm and soothing tea made of herbs like chamomile, valerian root, lavender, lemon balm, peppermint, etc., can improve your sleep health and reduce the risk of sleep disorders like insomnia and OSA, thanks to their ability to relieve inflammation. Taking a cup of ginger tea with honey can also relieve gastroesophageal reflux disease symptoms (GERD), which is a major cause of sleep disruptions.
It is important to keep in mind the time of the day and the right amount before eating these food items. Some of these foods may be rich in proteins and fibers, and eating many of them too close to bed may lead to digestion problems. Similarly, try avoiding large meals or rich sugars and oils before retiring to bed. We hope that by following this list of healthy foods to eat before bed, you will attain the best sleep quality.