Sleep deprivation is fast becoming a public health concern and 1 in every 3 adults does not get enough sleep. But did you know that the recipe to a good night's sleep is as simple as a glass of tart cherry juice or a handful of nuts? Yep, researchers have found that certain minerals and chemicals in our food help to release sleep inducing chemicals in the brain and practically do the job of sleeping pills; in fact does it better because they don't have any side effects and are packed with goodness.
Sleep is the fuel of life. It's the one thing that positively affects all other things in our life including how we feel, perform and even look. Here are 10 foods that fuel sleep and curb insomnia.
Give your tastebuds a yummy treat and your body a quality rest with a bowl full of delicious tart cherries. Cherries are one of the rare foods which are naturally rich in melatonin, a hormone that induces sleep and is also responsible for the regulation of the body’s internal clock and sleep-wake cycle. Cherries also contain anthocyanins, which in combination with melatonin are great for insomnia. According to a recent study conducted by researchers at Northumbria University in UK, drinking Montmorency tart cherry juice twice a day for two weeks helped increase sleep time by nearly 90 minutes among older adults with insomnia. They also found that in comparison to another beverage, drinking tart cherry juice concentrate twice a day for a week helps increase sleep duration by 40 minutes and sleep efficiency by 6%.
Speaking of sleep inducing fruits, one cannot miss bananas. Bananas work both ways to help you settle for sleep. Not only do they contain sleep inducing tryptophan but also potassium and magnesium which are natural muscle relaxants that help calm the nerves and muscles so you can sleep like a baby. They are so effective when it comes to sleep that bananas are commonly referred to as sleeping pills in a peel.
Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, peanuts and Brazil nuts are a great and convenient source of sleep inducing foods. Brazilian nuts are packed with selenium and potassium whereas walnuts and peanuts are packed with tryptophan and almonds are a great source of magnesium, all of which are great for a good night's sleep. So quit counting sheep and keep munching on those nuts and before you know it, you’ll be snoring, Ah I mean snoozing.
You have probably heard and read a gazillion times that a glass of warm milk works wonders to help you drift to dreamland but did you know that not only milk but all other dairy products such as yogurt and cheese also contain some amount of tryptophan. So if you're not a milk fan you can go for a bowl of yogurt with nuts or add lots of cheese to your meal but whatever you eat, stay away from ice cream. You may call it a dairy product but the loads of sugar in it are enough to cancel the effect of tryptophan and keep you up at night.
Not all teas are harmful for sleep; some are in fact surprisingly good for sleep. As long as you stay away from the regular caffeinated tea, you're safe. Try the herbal versions which are known not only for their medicinal benefits but also for promoting sound sleep and the best thing about them is that there are so many options from lavender to licorice, chamomile to valerian root, you can choose from a wide variety of herbs. Have a warm cup of herbal tea 30 minutes before bedtime for optimal results. Sleep evangelist Arianna Huffington also recommends herbal tea before bed for quality sleep and takes it along even when she's travelling.
Did you know that having a bowl of lettuce salad or lettuce soup at dinner has double benefits? These yummy green leaves not only help you to trim your waist but are equally good as a sleeping aid. The main ingredient in lettuce is lactucarium, often called lettuce opium which acts as a sedative by calming the nervous system.
Might come as a surprise but dates also fuel sleep. Dates are rich in the sleep inducing chemical tryptophan but the best part is that they are also packed with carbohydrates which help in the release of tryptophan to the brain. Have dates at least an hour before bedtime for a healthy and nutritious and sleep inducing dinner.
Jasmine rice is great for sleep because it has a high glycemic index. According to American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, this high glycemic index of jasmine rice increases the ratio of sleep-inducing tryptophan relative to other amino acids in the blood, allowing proportionately more to get into the brain. So bowl of jasmine rice coupled with tryptophan rich chicken is all what you need at dinner for a good night's rest.
Oatmeal is commonly associated with breakfast but it also proves to be a great option for dinner. Oats are not only rich in melatonin but they also trigger your blood sugar naturally to help promote sleep. Plus, like other whole grains they are rich in magnesium which has a calming effect on the nervous system. If you have trouble falling asleep, it's time to add oatmeal to your dinner menu as well.
This Middle Eastern spread is a great option to induce sleep. Hummus is made of chickpeas which are rich in tryptophan and also vitamin B6 which help to produce melatonin in the brain. Pair your yummy hummus spread with whole grain bread and you will be snoozing in no time.
About the author: Eugene Gabriel is a passionate blogger. He has always been fascinated by sleep and how it relates to health and wellness. If you enjoyed this article read his post on sleep and coffee.