Whether you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or knowing when to turn “off” and calling it a night, you’re not alone in not getting enough sleep. More than 50 million Americans don’t get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night. However, the health benefits of a good nights sleep are countless, for example; sleep improves your overall quality of life, strengthens your immune system, helps maintain a healthy weight and increases productivity.
Looking for a ways to increase your quality and amount of sleep? A simple way is by making small changes to your diet. We’ve put together a list of foods that naturally contain substances that help you settle down for a good night sleep. Adding these foods into your diet can increase your overall quality of sleep.
Walnuts are a great source of tryptophan, which is a sleep-enhancing amino acid that helps produce serotonin and melatonin, also known as the “body clock” hormone that regulates your wake-sleep cycles.
- Dairy Products
Turns out there is truth behind the old wives tale that a warm glass of milk will make you sleepy. Calcium, found in items like yogurt, milk and cheese, assists the brain in using the tryptophan from dairy to produce melatonin. Additionally, research suggests that calcium deficiency can make it difficult to fall asleep.
Snack foods like pretzels and corn chips have high glycemic index. This means that after you eat them you’ll have a natural spike in your blood sugar and insulin, which can shorten the time it takes for you to fall asleep.
- Jasmine Rice
While white rice also has a high glycemic index, however research shows that jasmine rice in particular helps you fall asleep faster.
- Tart Cherry Juice
Cherries, specifically tart cherries, are a natural source of melatonin. In a study conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, participants who drank cherry juice twice a day experienced some relief in the severity of their insomnia.
- Bowl of Cereal
A bowl of healthy cereal before bed could help you get better nights sleep because it combines two components of quality sleep: carbohydrates and calcium.
- Chamomile Tea
Drinking tea can increase the levels of glycine, a chemical that relaxes muscles and nerves. Even just steeping a cup of chamomile tea will help your quality of sleep.
8. Leafy Greens
Leafy green vegetables like kale and spinach are high in calcium, which helps the brain use tryptophan to produce melatonin.
Majority of fish, specifically salmon and tuna, have high levels of vitamin B6, which is an essential component in producing melatonin.
For more information about the dangers of sleep deprivation, check out our recent infographic.