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Food to Help You Sleep

Few things affect our health more than sleep – or really lack of it. Not getting enough sleep can make just about every health problem worse.

Sleep restores everything in our bodies. It’s essential for proper functioning of immune, nervous, skeletal, hormonal, and muscular systems, plus it regulates metabolism and greatly affects how we think (1).

A number of factors can negatively affect sleep and the quality of sleep we get. From our internal environments such as stress levels, medical conditions and the time of life we are in, to external ones such as our sleeping environment, medications we take and what we eat and drink (2,3).

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some foods that can help induce sleep.

Why Foods Can Impact Sleep Quality

Research has shown that certain foods can positively impact your sleep quality, allowing you to fall asleep more easily and improve your sleep quality too. So, you enjoy a deeper, more restful slumber, avoiding many sleep disturbances.

So why do these foods impact your sleep quality?

From helping with the production of melatonin, to simply creating a more nutritious and varied diet, they can really help you achieve better sleep.

Let’s take a look at the best foods that can help you get a good nights sleep.

Best Foods for Better Sleep Quality

Below, we’ve listed out some of the best, nutrient packed foods that help to promote a better sleep, and help you fall asleep quicker too.

Plus, we’ve reviewed the latest research to explain what it is that makes these foods so reliable to help. you sleep.

Turkey

Turkey contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which can help increase the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin (4). Additionally, turkey is also high in protein, which can help keep you feeling full and satisfied throughout the night.

Chamomile tea

Chamomile tea is a popular herbal remedy that has been used for centuries to promote relaxation and sleep. It contains compounds that can help reduce inflammation and anxiety, both of which can interfere with sleep (5).

Almonds

Almonds are a good source of magnesium, which can help promote relaxation and reduce stress levels. Magnesium is also essential for healthy sleep, as it helps regulate the production of melatonin (6).

Kiwi

Kiwi is a great source of vitamin C and serotonin, which can help improve sleep quality. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood and can help regulate sleep and promote feelings of relaxation and calmness (7).

The study showed that people who had kiwi’s before bed slept better, more deeply and for longer.

Tart cherry juice

According to research, tart cherry juice is high in antioxidants and contains natural melatonin which can help to create a regular and even sleep cycle and robust circadean rhythm (3). Many people have found that drinking tart cherry juice before bed helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle and promote restful sleep.

Warm milk

Warm milk has long been used as a natural sleep aid. Milk contains tryptophan, which can help increase the production of melatonin (8). Additionally, the warmth of the milk can help promote feelings of relaxation and calmness.

Bananas

Bananas are a good source of magnesium and potassium, both of which can help promote relaxation and reduce stress levels (9). They also contain vitamin B6, which is needed to produce melatonin.

Creating a Better Sleep Environment

Creating a conducive sleep environment is paramount for achieving optimal sleep quality. A serene and comfortable setting can significantly enhance the overall sleep experience.

Firstly, maintaining a cool and dark room helps signal the body that it’s time to rest, as darkness triggers the release of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone. Minimising noise and eliminating potential disturbances contribute to a peaceful ambiance, allowing individuals to drift into a deep, uninterrupted sleep.

The choice of a comfortable mattress and pillows tailored to personal preferences provides physical support, reducing discomfort and promoting relaxation.

Additionally, ensuring proper ventilation and airflow helps regulate temperature, preventing overheating or excessive cold, both of which can disrupt sleep patterns.

By thoughtfully curating the sleep environment, individuals can establish a routine that fosters relaxation and signals the body to unwind, ultimately leading to improved sleep quality and overall well-being.

Things to Avoid Before Bed For a Better Sleep

To optimise sleep quality, it’s essential to be mindful of certain habits and environmental factors that can negatively impact sleep. Here’s a list of things to avoid for a good night’s sleep:

Caffeine and Nicotine: Limit the consumption of stimulants like caffeine and nicotine, especially in the hours leading up to bedtime.

Electronic Devices: Avoid using phones, tablets, or computers at least an hour before bedtime, as the blue light emitted can interfere with the production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone.

Irregular Sleep Schedule: Maintain a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends.

Heavy Meals Late at Night: Refrain from consuming large or heavy meals close to bedtime, as digestion can disrupt sleep.

Alcohol: Limit alcohol intake, as it can interfere with sleep cycles and lead to fragmented, less restorative sleep.

Strenuous Exercise Before Bed: While regular exercise is beneficial for sleep, intense workouts right before bedtime may increase alertness and make it harder to wind down.

Excessive Fluid Intake: Minimise the consumption of liquids in the evening to reduce the likelihood of waking up during the night for bathroom trips.

Uncomfortable Sleep Environment: Ensure your sleep space is comfortable, with a supportive mattress and pillows. Keep the room cool, dark, and quiet.

Stressful Activities: Avoid engaging in stressful or stimulating activities close to bedtime. Instead, opt for calming activities like reading or gentle stretching.

Clock Watching: Resist the temptation to constantly check the time during the night, as it can contribute to anxiety and disrupt sleep.

Incorporating these sleep-inducing foods into your otherwise healthy diet, can help promote restful sleep and improve overall sleep quality. However, it’s important to note that while diet can play a role in sleep, it’s not the only factor.

Other lifestyle changes, such as reducing screen time before bed, establishing a consistent sleep schedule, and practicing relaxation techniques, can also help improve sleep quality.

If you’re struggling with sleep, it’s important to talk to a healthcare provider to rule out any underlying sleep disorders or medical conditions.

References

  1. Chaput JP, Dutil C, Featherstone R, et al. Sleep timing, sleep consistency, and health in adults: a systematic review. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab [Internet]. 2020 Oct 1 [cited 2023 Feb 25];45(10):S232–47. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33054339/
  2. Division of Sleep Medicine HMS. External Factors that Influence Sleep | Healthy Sleep [Internet]. Division of Sleep Medicine, Harvard Medical School. 2007 [cited 2023 Feb 25]. Available from: https://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/science/how/external-factors
  3. Zeng Y, Yang J, Du J, et al. Strategies of Functional Foods Promote Sleep in Human Being. Curr Signal Transduct Ther [Internet]. 2014 Dec [cited 2016 Feb 24];9(3):148–55. Available from: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=4440346&tool=pmcentrez&rendertype=abstract
  4. Halson SL. Sleep in Elite Athletes and Nutritional Interventions to Enhance Sleep. Sports Med [Internet]. 2014 [cited 2023 Feb 28];44(Suppl 1):13. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC4008810/
  5. Srivastava JK, Shankar E, Gupta S. Chamomile: A herbal medicine of the past with a bright future (review) [Internet]. Vol. 3, Molecular Medicine Reports. NIH Public Access; 2010 [cited 2023 Feb 28]. p. 895–901. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC2995283/
  6. Food and Drug Administration. FoodData Central [Internet]. FoodData Central. 2019 [cited 2023 Feb 28]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/323294/nutrients
  7. St-Onge MP, Mikic A, Pietrolungo CE. Effects of diet on sleep quality [Internet]. Vol. 7, Advances in Nutrition. Oxford University Press; 2016 [cited 2023 Feb 28]. p. 938–49. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC5015038/
  8. Nongonierma AB, Fitzgerald RJ. Milk proteins as a source of tryptophan-containing bioactive peptides [Internet]. Vol. 6, Food and Function. Food Funct; 2015 [cited 2023 Feb 28]. p. 2115–27. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26027501/
  9. National Institutes of Health NIH. Magnesium — Health Professional Fact Sheet [Internet]. Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. 2018 [cited 2023 Feb 28]. p. 1–9. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
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