Sleep disorders are common among people in this age of technology and busy lifestyles. The good news is there are foods that help you sleep and there are better ways to stay rested without using the same old counting sheep tradition 🙂
Did you know that more than 75% of Americans between the ages of 20 and 60 suffer from sleep difficulties on a regular basis? And that 40% of them have fallen asleep unintentionally during the day or while driving? This alarming fact puts everyone in danger, but the effects of sleep deprivation don’t stop here.
According to numerous studies, sleeping less than 6-9 hours per night can seriously injure your body and even increase the risks of early death by at least 12%. Our body needs time to recover and restore chemical balance. Otherwise, the whole body system, including the brain, can’t function properly.
However, the good news is there are foods that help you sleep and there are better ways to stay rested without using the same old counting sheep tradition.
How Do We Fall Asleep?
The “internal body clock” is not a myth, it’s really the way our body operates. This is a 24-hour clock working in a repeating rhythm. Every waking hour the pressure to sleep slowly builds up until the evening, when it reaches its peak and we go to sleep.
This pressure is caused by accumulated adenosine whose increasing levels signal the brain that it is time to go to bed. Furthermore, the hidden clues of the environment, like darkness or light play an additional role in making us feel sleepy and drowsy. Hence, the artificial light can confuse the body and prolong the natural sleep process.
Nonetheless, the body keeps control with hormones responsible for waking us up and putting us back to sleep. While cortisol prepares us to start our day feeling fresh and rejuvenated, melatonin signals the body when it’s time to quit and sink into the land of dreams. But what happens when there is a lack of melatonin in the system? That’s right, sleep deprivation and insomnia.
As we’ve established the role of melatonin, let’s discover more about its function. This hormone is actually the most potent antioxidant, helping fight free radicals in the body. Although it’s mainly produced by the pineal gland in the evening, other organs produce it as well, but in small amounts.
Melatonin is vital for our immune system, thus the lack of it may cause grave health issues. The reason is that it has an irreplaceable task of destroying sick cells in the body, so one can only imagine what could happen without its helping hand.
As melatonin serves to protect, once its cycle is broken, people could experience difficulty falling asleep. Some of the most common signs of sleep deprivation include:
- Constant yawning
- Excessive sleepiness
- Food cravings
- Weak immune system
- Extreme mood swings
- Skin inflammations
- Weight gain
- Degraded eye-sight
- Falling asleep during the day
How can We Help Our Body Restore Balance?
Though sleep disorders usually come from poor habits and the lifestyle choices, there are some routines you don’t have to change in order to get a healthy dose of sleep. This refers to late-night snacks, still, the midnight food selection has to be just right to encourage the body’s natural cycle.
Sleep inducing food is quite diverse, so anyone can find a few night-time bites according to their preferences. On the other hand, there are a variety of drinks that can help you sleep tight, but before we get to this subject, let’s take a look at the treats you can feel free to indulge in.
Do Bananas Help You Sleep?
The answer to this question is definitely yes. Bananas are rich in nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, tryptophan, and Vitamin B6, which have sleep inducing effects. A slice of banana mixed with milk can relieve the muscles and nerves, while promoting healthy digestion and circulation. Not to mention that Vitamin B6 is the most important vitamin for getting a good night’s sleep, as it stimulates melatonin and serotonin production.
Have Fish for Dinner
Instead of your regular meal, introduce fish into your diet plan. The best option is to eat salmon, tuna or halibut for dinner, since this type of food is full of omega-3 fatty acids, which calm the nerves and reduce stress. Plus, these fish are a natural Vitamin B6 booster, meaning that they increase melatonin and make you feel sleepy.
Take Almonds to Stay Healthy
For a very long time we’ve heard about almond’s protective properties, but did you know that these easy grubs can help you sleep? That’s right, almonds contain both magnesium and tryptophan, a natural muscle relaxant. Not only are they good for your heart, but they are also good for your peace of mind and getting the sleep you deserve.
What about Eggs?
They might not seem all that special, but you have to consider the positive impact of protein on the body. High-protein food like eggs, nuts, and cheese might be just the thing you need to sleep through the night. Tryptophan from protein is much more effective when mixed with carbs and don’t worry about your weight, as long as you eat in moderation having a meal before bed won’t make you fat overnight.
It’s Time for a Bowl of Cereals
Contrary to popular beliefs, a moderate bowl of low-sugar cereals (preferably whole-grain cereal) can set the right mood for comfortably falling asleep. This is even prescribed for children as according to a study, rice cereals before bed promote good sleep.
Sleep Benefits of Sweet Potatoes
Potato lovers can feel free to enjoy this excellent source of potassium, which calms the nerves and promotes muscle relaxation. Whether you bake or fry them, whip up sweet potatoes before going to bed and let the carbs lullaby your body to sleep.
Kale & Spinach as a Midnight Snack
Another food rich in potassium, however, kale contains calcium as well. Empowered by these sleep-inducing ingredients, eating a salad can become your new nightly routine. That being said, if kale doesn’t agree with you, spinach can be a quite adequate replacement. There is plenty of potassium to go around, so prepare to sleep like a baby with this diet.
Broccoli Will Make You Feel Rested
It is a known fact that fiber and saturated fat are associated with sleep disorders, but what you don’t know is that broccoli is a healthy option of getting fibers without the risk of saturated fat. Likewise, you can increase bean and raspberry intake as well. However, avoid bacon and butter if you wish to sleep well, because this is exactly the type of food that causes insomnia.
Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate!
You don’t have to avoid this guilty pleasure anymore! Although we are talking about dark chocolate, still you can pamper yourself with a chocolate delight. Just a few bites of dark chocolate are enough to get your magnesium juices going and stop the endless tossing and turning at night.
Don’t Want to Eat? Drink up!
There is always an alternative for foods that help you sleep through the night – what you drink matters as well. So here are a few healthy drinks that help you sleep:
- Cherry Juice Might Come in Handy – Believe it or not, a glass of cherry juice might put you out like a baby. Tart cherry juice is beverage worth trying for those fighting against sleep deprivation, because it provides the melatonin your body is deprived off. Fresh, dried or frozen cherries before bed will work wonders, whatever way you choose to prepare them.
- Warm Milk is a Classic – Remember all those times your mom made you drink warm milk before bed? Well, sorry to say it, but your mom was right. Milk is another tryptophan and amino acid sleep-inducing drink. And remember to put a teaspoon of honey in it to experience true nighttime peace.
- Chamomile or Herbal Tea – Chamomile or green tea is the perfect choice before laying your head down. These hot stuffs will enhance your desire to sleep with its mild sedative effects.
Tips to Sleep through the Night
Besides trying the above mentioned food and drinks to help you sleep, there are a few other rules to follow for getting rid of insomnia:
- Reduce stress with a hobby
- Establish a bedtime schedule
- Work out
- Arrange a comfortable environment
- Cool the room down to 60-75 degrees Fahrenheit
- Avoid drinking caffeine in afternoon and evenings
- Listen to soothing music
- Turn off electronics and lower the room brightness
- Use scents like lavender to help you doze off
Sleep disorders are common among people in this age of technology and busy lifestyles. This is why you should consider the tips mentioned above and try to incorporate the powerful food combo into your bedtime diet regime. The next time you have trouble sleeping, drink some warm milk or tea instead of a pill. After all, it is much healthier and beneficial for your skin, body and mind.