It is an issue that millions of individuals across the United States, and the world at large, face regularly: insufficient sleep. When you aren’t getting the rest your body requires, it manifests in all sorts of negative ways. Staying alert at work in the morning becomes a challenge. So too does focusing throughout the day. People who don’t get enough sleep often lack energy, motivation and enthusiasm. Social interactions suffer and our metabolism gets thrown out of whack. This leads to weight management issues, overeating, and many other health challenges. Did you know there are dietary measures you can take to help alleviate the issue? Today we’ll look at the best foods for sleep support so you can catch all the Z’s you need.
There are many different tactics that are conducive to better sleep. Many people try strategies like working out in the evening, turning off electronics after dark, or using sleep supplements. All of these work to varying degrees for certain people. But a few simple alterations to your eating habits, especially before bed, can be an easy step forward falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer. The best foods for sleep are those that carry specific benefits for the sleep cycle.
There’s a common belief that the best eating habit before bed is to simply not eat at all. In the eyes of some, skipping food altogether after dinner is the best choice. They say this prevents calories from revving up your energy in the late hours, and also stops weight gain. It’s not totally false, but there are certain things you can eat in the hours leading up to bedtime that won’t inhibit your ability to doze off. Nor will they contribute directly to weight gain. Take a look at our choices for the best foods for sleep and then make sure you have them on hand for those insomnia-filled evenings.
Best Foods for Sleep
Bananas: They are high in magnesium, which is a potent muscle relaxant. Bananas are somewhat high in sugar, so many people eat them during the day for an extra boost, but they can actually have the opposite effect.
Dairy: Everyone knows the truism about a warm glass of milk before bed. Cheese and yogurt are also good choices. These products (much like turkey) contain calcium, which helps your brain use tryptophan to produce melatonin.
Fish: Salmon, tuna and halibut contain robust levels of vitamin B6, which helps you produce more relaxing melatonin and serotonin.
White Rice: It’s generally considered to be the unhealthy version of a worldwide diet staple, but white rice — particularly jasmine rice — has a high glycemic index and triggers a better ratio of sleep-inducing chemicals and amino acids.
Kale: Much like diary products, kale and other leafy green veggies offer plenty of calcium (in addition to numerous other ingredients) and studies show that people with higher calcium levels sleep more soundly.
Foods to Avoid Before Bed
Cheeseburger: This is just one of many examples of food with a high fat content. Because fat can cause digestive issues and increase stomach acid, it makes it harder to sleep. You also cannot metabolize and burn it as effectively while sleeping.
Alcohol: You might feel like a glass of wine before bed helps you relax and doze off. But studies show that people who drink alcohol before bed are more likely to wake up during the night.
Caffeine: Your response to this one is probably “duh.” Caffeine is a stimulant that makes it harder to sleep, especially for those with greater sensitivity. We recommend avoiding coffee, sugary drinks, energy pills and even chocolate any time after the late afternoon.