Good sleep is critical to good health, but lately many of us are having trouble getting enough quality sleep. Don’t worry – we’ve got all the info you need on what to eat to get the rest you deserve!
SuperFoods Are Sleep Enhancing Foods
SuperFoods and their Sidekicks are truly amazing. Not only do they lead to a longer, healthier life, but most of them (except for garlic and caffeinated black and green tea) contribute to good sleep. They either boost serotonin or melatonin levels, or they contain amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that enhance good rest. Eat your SuperFoods and sleep well!
SuperFoods, Serotonin, And Superior Sleep
Complex carbohydrates can boost serotonin levels in your brain, which in turn relax you and induce sleepiness. If you need an evening snack, include a complex carb.
Get Your Tryptophan
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that we need to get from food. Our bodies then convert it to serotonin and melatonin which help with sleep. Turkey is the most well-known SuperFood source of tryptophan but there are many others. Yogurt and dairy products, seafood, nuts and seeds, beans and peas are all good sources of tryptophan.
Have some whole grains with a tryptophan-rich food to increase serotonin levels in the brain and you’ll find your body ready to sleep well.
Increasing thiamin (vitamin B1) intake improves sleep patterns. Thiamin is an important cofactor in many of our body’s enzymatic reactions. It is especially critical in the brain where it normalizes nerve function. Since thiamin can’t be stored in our bodies, we need to make sure we regularly eat thiamin-rich foods. SuperFoods that are good sources of thiamin include whole grains, beans, lentils, and other legumes.
Folate Deficiencies And Fatigue
Folate/Folic Acid deficiency has been associated with fatigue. In fact, many people don’t get enough of this crucial vitamin. It is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies in the world. Make sure you’re eating SuperFoods that are rich in folate so you won’t be tired during the day and you can get a good rest at night.
The good news is, many SuperFoods are excellent sources of this important vitamin – including spinach and other dark leafy greens, Brussel sprouts, beans and other legumes, nuts, whole grains, and citrus.
Magnesium and Potassium and Dehydration
Magnesium deficiency is associated with insomnia. Potassium may affect sleep too, and most people in the U.S. don’t get enough potassium. Also, if we’re dehydrated, we lose potassium and magnesium, and have electrolyte imbalances.
Keep yourself hydrated with water or non-caffinated tea, and replenish your electrolytes with sweet potatoes, beans/legumes, yogurt, dark leafy greens, broccoli, nuts and seeds, avocado, wild salmon and halibut, bananas, and cantaloupe.
Melatonin-Rich Foods Are Key
Melatonin is a hormone that is secreted in our brain that helps regulate our sleep-wake cycles.
Melatonin levels naturally increase at night to signal sleep. With stress, aging, or changing time zones, our natural melatonin levels may not be in sync with our needs. Consuming melatonin from foods can help bring our natural sleep signals back to normal.
Tart cherries, walnuts, oats, asparagus, tomatoes, and broccoli contain melatonin and can help increase evening melatonin levels. Tart cherry juice contains some of the highest amounts of melatonin and has very powerful anti-inflammatory effects to help ease aching joints and muscles, and is beneficial in improving sleep duration and quality.
Stay Away From Simple Carbs at Night
Although complex carbohydrates are sleep-promoting, simple carbs have the opposite effect. They can reduce your serotonin levels and keep you from getting a good night’s rest. So, avoid the cookies, cakes, pastries, and even white pasta in the evening.
Evening Snacks Suggestions
Eat SuperFoods throughout the day to get all your sleep-promoting nutrients. If you have an evening snack, make it a small one. Here are a few ideas to end your day well:
- A slice of toasted whole wheat bread with some nut butter and dried tart cherries
- A small bowl of yogurt with tart cherries and a little oat granola. (Try our SuperFoodsRx Peanut Butter Granola recipe.)
- A small bowl of whole-grain cereal with banana or raisins and milk.
- A cup of warm milk before bedtime with trail mix of dried tart cherries, walnuts, raisins, and almonds.
- Half a banana with nut butter and a small cup of tart cherry juice.
- A few whole-grain crackers with nut butter.
Sleep well and be healthy!