There’s no feeling like waking up fully charged and ready to tackle the day. Unfortunately, stress, hormones, poor diet, and other factors can make it hard to catch those much-needed Z’s. Luckily, the solution might be simpler than you think. Rich in sleep-inducing chemicals, these natural foods can help you drift off into dreamland.
Best Foods to help you sleep
An excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, nuts are packed with a variety of heart-healthy nutrients. Almonds and walnuts contain melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate your circadian rhythm. Eating a handful before bedtime can help ease you into a restful sleep. Most nuts also contain tryptophan and magnesium, a combo that helps relax muscles and nerves, promoting healthy rest. Because nuts are a high-calorie food, eating too many can keep you awake. Try to stick to a 1-oz. serving an hour before bedtime.
Like nuts, cottage cheese is high in protein and tryptophan. And unlike other cheeses, it is low in saturated fat. If you’re feeling hungry before bedtime, a few scoops of cottage cheese with whole grain bread or crackers can appease your stomach without keeping you awake.
While coffee keeps you awake and alert, a cup of herbal tea does the opposite. Ditch the caffeine and drink a cup of chamomile, ginger, or peppermint tea to calm the nerves, stay hydrated, and sooth stomach discomfort. It all adds up to a restful night’s sleep.
High in protein, tryptophan, and melatonin, a glass of warm milk can have you snoozing before you know it. In addition to the chemical basis, there may also be psychological reasons why milk promotes sleep. Most of us can recall ending childhood nights with warm milk and muted television. This familiar feeling alone may be enough to convince the brain that it’s bedtime.
While high in natural sugars, many fruits are also rich in melatonin. Cherries, in particular, have high levels of melatonin that can help you enter and stay longer in sleep mode. Bananas pack magnesium and potassium to relax the muscles and nerves, as well as vitamin B6 that converts tryptophan into serotonin, a chemical in the brain that regulates mood, digestion, and sleep. Prunes and plums have similar nutrients. Juicy fruits such as cantaloupes and other melons can keep you hydrated throughout the night without triggering your bladder. Other fruits that promote healthy sleep include pineapple, kiwi, and oranges.
Simple carbs found in sweets and refined grains release sugar quickly into the bloodstream, keeping you awake and on edge. On the other hand, whole grains such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta, oatmeal, and whole grain cereal contain complex carbs that digest slowly, easing the body into a relaxed state. You can also find complex carbs in quinoa, buckwheat, and sweet potatoes. It’s also easy to pair these foods with others on this list, such as sweet potato on whole grain toast and cereal with fruit and milk.
As with all foods, the key is moderation. Manage your portions well and avoid snacking too close to bedtime. Experiment and you’ll find the ideal food and drink combo to promote healthy sleep.
3 Essential Oils that are good for supporting sleep
Lavender oil is great for promoting relaxation and calmness. You can diffuse this, spray your sheets or rub it directly on the back of your neck.
Cedarwood has a very earthy smell and is one that I use often to diffuse with Lavender for my nighttime routine.
This is another great one to try diffusing.
*remember to use good quality oils. See here for what I recommend.