Eat right to sleep tight

Eat right to sleep tight

February 29, 2016

It’s almost midnight and you are wired; like most nights, you just can’t seem to settle down. What can you do nutritionally to help get some much-needed shut-eye?

First things first, avoid caffeine after noon. Your good friend Joe can impede sleep for several hours after consuming it. Don’t forget that chocolate, soda, and several varieties of tea also contain caffeine.

There are plenty of foods to choose from that help induce sleep. Look for foods that are high in the amino acid tryptophan, vitamin B6, and the minerals calcium and magnesium, as well as foods that naturally contain melatonin.

Tryptophan is an amino acid that your body does not produce; therefore you must turn to food to obtain it. Tryptophan starts a domino effect. First, it creates the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin, which settles you down and helps you to happily relax. Serotonin then stimulates the production of the “sleep hormone” known as melatonin, and voila, you begin to feel sleepy.

Terrific Tryptophan selections include:

  • Poultry
  • Yogurt
  • Oats
  • Bananas
  • Eggs
  • Walnuts

Vitamin B6 helps sleep by creating both serotonin and melatonin.

Excellent vitamin B6 choices include:

  • Fish
  • Poultry
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Chickpeas (or hummus)
  • Bananas
  • Fortified cereals
  • Sunflower seeds

Magnesium and calcium are natural sedatives.

Foods high in both magnesium and calcium include:

  • Whole grains
  • Dark leafy greens (spinach, collard greens or chard)
  • Fish
  • Sunflower seeds

And then there are some food choices that naturally contain melatonin. Some of these superstars include:

  • Tart cherries
  • Raspberries
  • Almonds
  • Goji berries
  • Fenugreek and mustard seeds

Use this blog as a checklist and make it your goal to consume as many of the food selections as possible in the week ahead. You will likely achieve the slumber you desperately need.

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