The Best Foods For Better Sleep
Sleep is essential for our health and well-being, yet millions of people suffer from lack of sleep. Fortunately, one simple way you can try to improve your sleep is by eating certain types of foods.
Sleep Deprivation is Common Among Americans
Surveys conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) in 1999-2004 reveal that at least 40 million Americans suffer from over 70 different sleep disorders and 60 percent of adults report having sleep problems a few nights a week or more. Most of the people with these problems go undiagnosed and untreated.
Sleep problems can directly or indirectly affect physiological systems, such as brain and nervous system, cardiovascular system, metabolic functions and immune system.
I’ve already written about the wide range of health issues that lack of sleep can cause to the body in my article about 23 dangers of sleep deprivation.
In this article I am going to cover foods that contain components that will help you to get better sleep, and I will share with you a recipe of banana and cinnamon drink you can consume about two hours before going to bed.
1. Foods Containing Tryptophan Can Help you Fall Asleep
Tryptophan in an amino acid which is required fro the production of serotonin. Raising the level of tryptophan in the brain will increase production of serotonin which has general sedative effects.
Foods that contain tryptophan and increase serotonin levels are poultry, seafood, dairy products, nuts and seeds, eggs, bananas and legumes.
Milk for a better sleep
Milk contains tryptophan and you have probably heard many times that drinking a cup of warm milk at night will help you to get asleep.
However some research, including a 2003 study published in “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition”, demonstrates that while milk does contain tryptophan, the tryptophan may be hindered from crossing into the brain by the protein in the milk. For tryptophan in the milk to be effective in causing sleep, it must be paired with foods that are low in protein and high in carbohydrates.
Another Point: For some people, particularly those with milk allergies or lactose intolerance, a glass of warm milk may cause digestive upsets.
I’d like to share with you a simple recipe that includes banana as its main ingredient. This is easy to make and digests very easy in the body.
Banana Cinnamon Drink for a better sleep
The minerals and amino acids in a banana help relax your body. Bananas contain the mineralspotassium and magnesium which serve as muscle relaxants, which in turn helps your body feel ready to fall asleep.
Bananas also contain tryptophan and is also a source of serotonin which has general sedative effects.
A small study published in the Journal of Pineal Research showed that blood levels of melatonin (which is the hormone that helps sleep) rose significantly about two hours after eating a banana.
1 cup of water
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. honey (optional)
Blend the ingredients until thick and smooth. Serves 1
Note – you can replace the water with milk but then you must add the honey which is low in protein and high in carbohydrates. This will help the tryptophan in milk cross into the brain as per the study mentioned above.
2. Foods Containing Zinc and Magnesium
These minerals are important for healthy sleep.
A study published on January 2011 on the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society concluded that the administration of melatonin, magnesium, and zinc appears to improve the quality of sleep and the quality of life in long-term care facility residents with primary insomnia. You can use magnesium or zinc supplement for sleep support, or you can get it through nutrition.
Good sources of magnesium are: dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds (especially pumpkin seeds), fish, legumes, whole grains, avocado, bananas, plain yogurt, dried fruits and dark chocolate.
Consuming adequate amount of magnesium is also one of the 70 habits featured in my e-book 70 Powerful Habits For A Great Health which will guide you how to take positive steps to improve your wellness and overall health.
Good sources of zinc are: seafood, beef and lamb, beans, nuts and seeds, wheat germ and dairy products. Combine these foods and eat them for dinner to get into sleepy mood.
3. Foods Containing Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone made by a small gland in the brain. Melatonin helps control your sleep and wake cycles. Very small amounts of it are found in foods such as banana, corn, rice, tomatoes, almonds, seeds and oats. You can also buy it as a supplement.
Tart cherries are one of the most concentrated sources of melatonin, so you can eat cherries in all forms: fresh, dried, frozen or as a juice.