We don’t usually think about it, but what we eat can directly affect the quality of our sleep. Studies have shown that a normal and balanced diet can improve sleep quality as well as quantity. On the other hand, a diet that revolves around carbohydrates and fats decreases the quality of sleep, sleep latency and serotonin production as well. A good diet is essential for good health, but as of lately, it has been proven that a good diet is essential for restorative sleep as well.
Therefore, in the following paragraphs, we’re going to take a look at the best foods you can eat to improve your sleep. Your diet needs to be versatile, high in fiber, low in saturated fat and sugar. So, here’s the list of the food you should start incorporating in your diet.
Eating fruits is known to be extremely beneficial for our health. Fruits provide health-boosting antioxidants, improve our immune system and help the body fight off diseases. Fruits are also known to reduce the risk of heart diseases, inflammations, cancer, diabetes and becoming overweight. Let’s see which fruits will help you sleep better;
- Bananas – bananas are filled with fiber, protein, calcium, potassium, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and many more healthy components. Bananas also regulate mineral deficiency, especially when it comes to magnesium and potassium. The lack of magnesium can cause sleeping problems. Since bananas are filled with magnesium, they will surely help you get a good night’s sleep. To increase the sleep effect, some people even make banana teas or smoothies.
- Figs – Figs are natural health boosters, that are absolutely delicious and wonderful. Figs are, just like bananas, filled with vitamins, magnesium, and potassium. The minerals within figs regulate blood flow, muscle contraction and the production of serotonin. Each of these regulations contributes to your ability to fall and stay asleep. Figs are also filled with fiber, which will keep you full for a longer time, so you won’t wake up hungry.
- Watermelon – eating a few slices of watermelon before sleep can provide your body with hydration during the whole night. Moreover, watermelon can increase the duration of a deep sleep by 27%, which makes it excellent for light sleepers and people who have interrupted sleep issues. During the night, watermelon will work hard to prevent fat accumulation and will boost your energy for the next day.
- Cherries – for a good night’s sleep, melatonin is essential and indispensable. Cherries are, in fact, a natural source of melatonin. Regular consumption of cherries can increase your melatonin levels, and in turn, help you improve the quality of your sleep.
- Avocado – another fruit that is rich in magnesium is avocado. Adding magnesium to your diet will help you increase the mineral levels in your body, which are essential for falling and staying asleep. Magnesium in avocado actually helps deactivate adrenaline, making the body feel relaxed and sleepy.
Just like fruits, veggies are also essential for good health. Vegetables are a natural source of nutrients, fiber, potassium, folic acid, Vitamins A and E, and much more. Veggies are considered to be a superfood group, so let’s see which vegetables will help you sleep better;
- Spinach – magnesium is inevitable for a good night’s sleep, and spinach is filled with it. The magnesium in spinach will help your muscles and nerves relax, which will calm the body and help it get ready for sleep. Magnesium deficiencies lead to sleeping problems, and spinach can help you avoid them completely.
- Kale – kale is rich in calcium, which is also very important for sleep regulation. The brain uses calcium to produce melatonin, which is, of course, essential for a good sleep. Moreover, just like spinach, kale is also rich in magnesium, fibers, and vitamins that all contribute to good, uninterrupted sleep.
- Edamame (soybeans) – Japanese edamame or soybeans are known to be incredibly healthy. They are filled with calcium and tryptophan (an amino acid that can be converted into melatonin or serotonin). According to a 2015 Japanese study, edamame can contribute to longer sleep duration, as well as to better sleep quality.
Another food group that can be excellent for your health is dairy. Milk and other dairy foods are rich in protein, calcium, and vitamins necessary for keeping good health in children, adults, and seniors equally. Let’s see which dairy products are excellent for sleep quality;
- Milk – this wonderful dairy drink has always been known to help people calm down before bedtime. The reason for that lies in the fact that milk is rich in tryptophan, which increases the levels of melatonin and serotonin in the body. A glass of warm milk (with honey for example) will help you sleep like a baby.
- Cottage cheese – This cheese is an excellent source of protein and casein, which are known to distribute amino acids to muscles during the night. Cottage cheese also contains tryptophan, which is known to naturally induce sleep because of its ability to convert to melatonin and serotonin.
- Greek yogurt – this type of yogurt is rich in protein, calcium, and vitamin B12, all known to contribute to a good night’s sleep. Greek yogurt is also a good source of potassium, vitamin D and numerous other nutrients that can help your body relax and produce more melatonin. This yogurt is a great snack before bedtime.
Even though the consumption of meat is a polarizing topic in this day and age, eating meat can actually be very good for you. Of course, you need to consume the right kind of meat to get all the benefits which include protein, iron, vitamin B12, and much more. Let’s see what kind of meat you should eat to improve sleep quality;
- Chicken – white meat is known to be a great source of protein and amino acids like tryptophan. As we mentioned before, tryptophan is essential for maintaining a good night’s sleep, as it helps produce serotonin and melatonin. Consumption of chicken has also shown to increase the duration of deep sleep.
- Turkey – just like chicken, turkey is also rich in tryptophan and protein. It is also believed that turkey can cause incredible sleepiness and drowsiness, mostly because of the high levels of tryptophan.
Nuts are a great substitute for fatty snacks. They are a great source of good fat, fiber, and protein. The fat found in nuts is omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fat. Nuts also contain minerals, vitamins, and other nutritional and healthy compounds. Let’s see which nuts are the best for good sleep;
- Nut butter – if you are not fan of nuts in their raw form, then nut butter is a good alternative. Whether peanut or almond butter, by consuming this incredibly healthy food you’ll be taking in high levels of protein. Protein helps the body stay satisfied and satiated, and increases the production and release of serotonin.
- Pistachios – Pistachios are rich in protein, magnesium and vitamin B6. All of these compounds contribute to a better quality of sleep. You should be consuming up to 1 ounce of pistachios before bedtime to achieve these benefits; if you consume more, you’ll be at risk of taking in too many calories, which can, in turn, keep you up all night.
- Almonds – almonds are known to contain high levels of tryptophan and magnesium. Both directly affect the muscle and nerve function, decrease stress levels and help the heart rhythm become steady and calm. A handful of almonds before bedtime will help you sleep like a baby.
- Walnuts – Walnuts are known to help the body regulate its ‘sleep clock’ or sleep cycle. The reason for that lies in the fact that walnuts are rich in tryptophan and melatonin; both can help you fall and stay asleep, as well as stay longer in the REM sleep.
Other Types of Food That Improve Sleep
- Popcorn – popcorn is a great choice of food for people who deal with heartburn and stomach problems, which can interrupt sleep. Moreover, popcorn helps boot serotonin production and helps keep the digestive system calm during sleep.
- Pumpkin seeds – these seeds are considered to be a superfood. They are rich in tryptophan (600mg per 100g), as well as in zinc, vitamin E, magnesium, iron, and protein. All of these compounds are excellent for the natural production of serotonin and melatonin before bedtime. A quarter of a cup of pumpkin seeds should be enough to put you in a nice sleep.
- Oatmeal – Oatmeal is a great food to keep your body satiated and your blood sugar levels normal during the night. Oatmeal contains good carbohydrates that help the production of serotonin in the body. A bowl of oatmeal will reduce stress levels and relax you before bedtime.
- Dark chocolate – true dark chocolate (70% and more of cocoa) is a portion of incredibly healthy food. It is a natural source of serotonin, which is essential for a good sleep. Serotonin helps the body, muscles, and nerves relax completely; something that is important for the body to do before bedtime.
Good and healthy food comes in different forms and sources. If you struggle with sleep, or the quality of your sleep is not good, make sure to change your diet. It is one of the steps that can help you not only sleep better but also help you lead a healthier lifestyle. Dietary changes are inevitable throughout life, so make sure to find which foods fit you and your sleep the best. Also, make sure to consult a medical professional about which food groups can fit your particular sleeping problems the best.