If you are experiencing trouble sleeping, you’ve probably tried several remedies in an attempt to get some better quality zzz’s.
Have you ever considered that there are foods in your kitchen that could help? It’s true! The nutrients in some foods can help is to relax.
Before we talk about those sleep-helping foods, let’s quickly review a few foods and drinks to avoid before bed if you want a good night’s sleep.
Coffee is obvious; caffeine stimulates the brain and body and will make it more difficult for you to relax. Same goes for sodas – don’t forget they contain caffeine, too! Energy-boosting foods like nuts, seeds, cheese, and red meat should also be avoided before bed, as they rev the body up instead of slowing it down.
Stay away from sugar before bed. Not only would you spike your blood sugar before you go to sleep, you would also start the sugar rush/crash cycle which wreaks havoc on peaceful slumber.
Alcohol should also be a consideration. After drinking, you usually fall asleep just fine, but staying asleep is another story. Once the depressant effect of the alcohol wears off, so does your blissful booze snooze.
Ever wake up in the middle of the night after drinking, lying there staring at the ceiling, wishing you could go back to sleep? That’s the effect of drinking alcohol before bed! (Not to mention the headache you may suffer upon waking in the morning!)
On that note, drinking anything right before bed can make sleep difficult, as it prompts you to visit the restroom multiple times in the night. If you do sip a little something before bed, make it a warm cup of caffeine-free chamomile tea to ease you into slumber.
Also be mindful of the timing of your evening meal. If you eat late at night before bed, your body is in the process of digestion, which can disrupt your sleep. The best option is to eat your evening meal at least two hours before you plan on going to bed, and having only a small snack as bedtime approaches.
Now that we have our food and beverage timing down, let’s talk about your snooze food options!
You’ve probably heard that turkey makes you tired. The myth that it’s the Thanksgiving bird that brings on the epic post-gorge nap on the couch with football on the TV in the background. Turns out, there’s truth to that! Tryptophan is an amino acid found in turkey that is used by your body to make serotonin and melatonin, the hormones responsible for sleep!
It may sound strange, but chickpeas/garbanzo beans are another fantastic food for encouraging sleep. They contain a ton of vitamin B6. This vitamin raises your body’s level of serotonin. If a handful of chickpeas before bed isn’t your thing, (totally understandable), try dipping a few slices of zucchini or cucumber in this creamy hummus for a satisfying snack.
Yearning for something sweet? A bowl of ice cream before bed is obviously not a midnight snack option for diabetics. However, there is a cool treat you can enjoy, that may actually help you sleep better!
Some fruits lend themselves especially well to sleep. Cherries are naturally high in melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleeping and waking. Bananas are high in potassium and magnesium, which act as natural muscle relaxers.
So how can we combine these two for a sleepy, sweet treat? Blend frozen cherries and half a frozen banana with a splash of milk (full-fat, coconut, or almond.) It’s cool and delicious, not too sweet, and can help you sleep!
Who knew that there are sleep-improving foods, let alone the fact that they are probably in your kitchen right now? You really can eat better to sleep better.