Having trouble sleeping at night? That old practice of drinking a glass of warm milk before bed isn’t just something your grandmother made up! Foods contain nutrients that help keep your body in balance and provide what you need for the day. We often think of food giving us energy to get things done during the day, but we don’t often think about how what we are eating will affect our ability to sleep well at night.
Are There Foods to Fight Insomnia ?
The things that we eat are critical to the way our body functions, and insomnia is no different. Of course, on their own foods may not act as a complete cure to your insomnia. But when combined with other healthy sleep practices, food can make a big difference in how well you do or do not sleep. If you are fighting with insomnia, changing your diet and eating more intentionally can certain help you regain the vitamins and minerals you need for your body to sleep well again.
Foods That Help Fight Insomnia
Here are some of the most common foods that can help you get back into a regular sleep pattern. Plus, they’re all a healthy addition to your diet that will keep your energy going throughout the next day.
Do Dairy. In addition to the glass of warm milk, other dairy products are also helpful in making you sleepy including cheese, yogurt, and cottage cheese. This is because dairy products contain calcium, which helps the brain to convert tryptophan into melatonin—one of the most important hormones your body makes to prompt you to fall asleep. If you can’t eat dairy, other foods containing calcium include kale, spinach and other leafy greens.
Go Nuts. Another great sources of tryptophan, a handful of walnuts as an evening snack could push you over the edge into better sleep. Add a few almonds in with the walnuts mentioned above and you’ll be in prime shape for sleeping. Almonds contain magnesium which is a mineral that is critical for quality sleep as well as for keeping your bones healthy. Studies have shown that people with low levels of magnesium have a greater difficulty staying asleep at night. Almond milk can have a similar effect if you would rather drink your nuts.
It’s Bananas. Another food packed with potassium and magnesium, bananas offer relaxation for the muscles and promote healthy sleep. The B6 vitamin content in bananas triggers the brain to produce serotonin which, in turn, is turned into melatonin. And melatonin is a critical substance that allows your entire body to fall asleep faster and sleep better all around. If bananas aren’t your thing, other fruits that can help to promote sleep include grapefruit, peaches, pomegranates, grapes, and avocados. Vitamin C, tryptophan, Vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and melatonin contained in these fruits can work together to help you to relax and provide better sleep.
A Bowl of Cherries. Well, maybe you don’t need an entire bowl, but a few cherries can help you sleep at night. Or drink them in the form of a glass of cherry juice. Cherries of tart variety are a natural source of melatonin and tryptophan (which triggers the production of more melatonin). In addition, tart cherries contain pigments (proanthocyanidins) which help keep tryptophan working longer within the body.
Drink Up. If you think that nightcap is helping you to sleep, think again. Alcohol at bedtime can deeply interfere with your brain’s ability to rest fully. A glass of wine or other alcohol in the evening is actually sabotaging your ability to sleep and making your insomnia worse. Instead, choose to drink an evening beverage that can promote healthy sleep naturally. Chamomile tea, valerian tea, and passion fruit tea are all great options that contain herbal sedatives which are mild and effective. Plus, just the practice of breathing deeply while sitting quietly with a warm cup of tea can help soothe your brain and wash away the worries from the day that could keep you from sleeping. Drinking a warm cup of cow’s milk or almond milk can have a similar effect.
Getting a good night’s sleep is critical to live a high-functioning, healthy and productive life. Of course, anyone with severe insomnia should be under the care of a medical professional. But for those who have short-term insomnia (or for those who are trying to prevent it!), consider these foods and the way that your body responds to them. Then be proactive about finding ways to incorporate these foods into your regular routine, for dinner or a bedtime snack. Help your body regain the nutrition it needs to promote healthy sleep patterns and kick your insomnia for good!