We are what we eat. It’s a simple saying with a wealth of meaning. A poor diet can sap strength, reduce alertness, increase the risk of obesity and the health conditions that come with it. Certain foods can also influence how well you sleep. For instance, caffeine is THE way to start the day for many because it’s stimulating. But have it late in the day, and it could keep you awake at night. Spicy, fatty foods can also interfere with sleep as they can cause indigestion. On the flip side, some foods can improve sleep quality as they contain sleep-regulating hormones like melatonin and amino acids such as tryptophan. Others contain chemicals and antioxidants that promote relaxation and sleepiness.
Chamomile tea is believed to induce sleep. Although there are conflicting studies on its effects on sleep, it works as a mild tranquilizer to relax and calm the nerves. This calming effect may be due to the presence of apigenin that binds to receptors in the brain that could reduce anxiety. People who feel too stressed out to sleep may find that drinking a cup of chamomile before bed helps them fall asleep faster.
Keep in mind that chamomile has blood-thinning properties and shouldn’t be consumed if you’re about to have surgery. It can also trigger allergic reactions in those who are allergic to plants in the daisy family. Pregnant women should consult their doctors first before having any.
Tart or sour cherries contain the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Having a glass before bed may make you sleepy and improve sleep quality. A study by the School of Life Sciences, Northumbria University found that participants who consumed tart cherry juice concentrate for 7 days had increased sleep time and sleep efficiency. Another study published in the American Journal of Therapeutics saw 8 subjects with insomnia who consumed tart cherry juice for 2 weeks increase their sleep time and efficiency.
Bananas are packed with minerals and amino acids that can relax the body and make it easier to sleep at night. They contain potassium and magnesium, both of which serve as muscle relaxants. They also contain tryptophan, which is an amino acid that converts to serotonin and melatonin that promote sleep.
That post-Thanksgiving sleepiness that envelops you is believed to be due to the turkey binge. The jury isn’t out on if this really is the case and some say it’s because of the amount of food eaten and not the turkey itself. Whatever the case, turkey has tryptophan that may increase levels of serotonin and melatonin to help you sleep.
Fatty or oily fish is rich in omega 3 fatty acids that can prevent and manage heart disease, improve eye health, brain health and reduce symptoms of metabolic syndrome. More recently, omega 3 has been linked to better sleep quality, possibly because the body makes substances from fatty acids that can regulate sleep.
The University of Oxford did a study that found that higher levels of omega 3 are associated with better sleep. The researchers studied children who were given omega 3 supplements over the course of 16 weeks. Results showed that they had nearly an hour of increased sleep and fewer waking episodes compared to children who were given corn or soybean placebos.
Foods such as white rice that are higher on the glycemic index (GI) may help you fall asleep faster. The School of Exercise and Sport Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, The University of Sydney studied the effects of GI and meal time on sleep. Researchers found that there was a significantly shorter sleep onset with high GI meals. They also found that such meals were most effective when eaten 4 hours before bedtime.
For many, a glass of warm milk before bed seems to send them off to sleep. While there’s no evidence that it actually can encourage sleep, sleep expert Drew Dawson of Appleton Institute at Central Queensland University, has a theory. He says that it could be the routine action of consuming milk before bed that tells our brain and body it’s time to sleep and so we do. Whatever the case, if drinking warm milk relaxes you and puts you to sleep faster – it does contain tryptophan – you should continue doing it.
Nuts like almonds are another food that’s believed to encourage sleep as they’re a good source of magnesium and tryptophan. Not many studies have been done to prove this, but one conducted by Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences and Tarbiat Modares University on rats showed that almond extract had sedative and hypnotic effects. How true that holds for humans isn’t known, but almonds are rich in nutrients like minerals and vitamins, so you still stand to gain plenty!
I used to believe I was just a bad sleeper, until I bought my first NUVANNA bed! I haven’t slept this well in years, or possibly ever! I could not be more excited about the quality of this bed and the improvements it has brought to my sleep! This is an investment that you will not regret.
It’s not enough to have sleep-friendly foods; you need to do more to ensure you get 7-8 hours of good sleep each night. Regular exercise, spending time in natural daylight, sticking to a sleep schedule and powering down gadgets an hour before bed can improve sleep. Your bedroom should be a sanctuary too so that when you head to bed, you feel relaxed enough to sleep. Aim for a clutter-free environment that’s quiet, cool and dark. You should also use a mattress that’s designed to cater to your comfort and provide support.
Nuvanna is the brainchild of a mattress scientist with more than 20 years of experience in the field. It features three unique layers that target three problem areas for the best sleep. The top layer consists of phase-changing gel particles that absorb and disperse body heat for temperature regulation. The middle layer prevents the motion from being transferred across the bed so you and yours can move freely without disturbing each other. The bottom layer provides support to individual parts of the body and keeps the spine aligned.
Sleep should never be a luxury. It’s essential and should be prioritized as such. Enriching your diet with sleep-friendly foods is a step towards meeting your sleep goal. Try to have your last meal 2-4 hours before bed, so your body has enough time to digest it. If you eat too late, you can have acid reflux that can disrupt your sleep. Plan your diet, time your meals and make small lifestyle changes so you can sleep better.