The Top 5 Foods That Will Help You Sleep

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78653462Do you have difficulty sleeping at night? Have you ever considered that your food can play a big part in your nightly slumber?

Sleep is very important to your health and yet are you getting enough of the stuff? There is a chance that you are tossing and turning in your bed at night, keeping you from a restful sleep. A National Sleep Foundation survey revealed that 60% of adults suffer from sleep complications a few nights a week or more. Adults require seven to eight hours of sleep daily but there are approximately 40 million U.S. citizens experiencing over 70 sleep disorders, including insomnia. Approximately 33% of Americans are regularly affected by insomnia.

Could your diet be the lack-of-sleep culprit? There are several unhealthy and even healthy foods that can prevent you from getting some nightly shut-eye. Dark chocolate contains even more caffeine than coffee which can encroach on your sleep time. Eating before bed is generally not good practice and will disturb your sleep because you are not giving your body the adequate time it needs to digest the food. Alcohol, spicy food, and large meals, especially containing deep fried or fatty foods, are other foods you should avoid at night if you want to sleep well.

There are healthy foods that can definitely help you sleep:

Almonds

Almonds are an excellent source of magnesium which helps for quality sleep. The mineral works as a relaxant and tranquilizer in your body, as it relaxes your skeletal muscle, smoothing blood vessel muscles and the digestive tract. There are 98.7 mg of magnesium in a quarter cup of almonds.

Nuts and seeds are great to help you sleep because a lot of them are also a good source of tryptophan. A quarter cup of almonds contains 21.9% of your daily value intake of tryptophan making this nut one of the great healthy foods that help you sleep. Sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds are also foods that help you sleep because they contain tryptophan.

Miso Soup

Miso soup is a healthy food staple in Japan, helping you fall asleep when eaten at night. Miso is made from fermented soybeans (tofu), seaweed, onions, carrots, and water. Mood and sleep patterns are regulated because tryptophan serves as a precursor for the neurotransmitter serotonin. The fermented soybeans in miso soup is 43.8% of the daily value recommendation of tryptophan for tofu. The relaxing soup is also good for digestion and your immune system, helping you sleep well through the night.

Mushrooms

Turkey and chicken are very common food sources containing the sleep-promoting tryptophan; however, mushrooms are also an excellent source of the amino acid. Crimini mushrooms in particular contain 25% of your daily value intake of tryptophan and also are a good source of another sleep-friendly nutrient—magnesium. Crimini mushrooms look similar to white button mushrooms but are darker in color.

Kale

Most dark leafy greens are a very good source of tryptophan and kale is no exception. It is considered a very good source of the amino acid, making it a helpful food for serotonin production with 9.4% of your daily value intake of tryptophan. With 23.4 mg of magnesium in kale, it also gives you another muscle-relaxant nutrient to help you sleep well. It should definitely be included on your list of healthy foods that help you sleep.

Whole Grains

Whole grains are good sources of tryptophan and magnesium which is why they are included in this list of healthy foods that help you sleep. Oats, rye, brown rice, bulgur, barley, whole wheat, and buckwheat are the best sleep grains you can eat. The seed quinoa is often considered a whole grain and it can also be included with the other healthy foods that help you sleep. It contains 22.3% of your daily value intake of magnesium and 18.8% of your tryptophan intake. Have any whole grain or quinoa with dinner, helping you to easily rest peacefully.

Eating foods that help you sleep can also reduce stress and bring more peace into your life. So, if you’re wondering why you cannot sleep at night, look at your diet and slowly change your sleep disturbing habits.

Sources:
Mateljan, G., The World’s Healthiest Foods: Essential Guide for the healthiest way of eating (Seattle: George Mateljan Foundation, 2007), 114-115, 118, 154, 534, 619, 657, 672.
Murray, M., N.D., et al, The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine: Third Edition (New York: First Atria Paperback, 2012), 44-45.
Neglia, A., “8 Foods That Disrupt Sleep,” The Huffington Post web site, Aug. 7, 2013; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/07/worst-foods-for-sleep_n_3709421.html#slide=2776080.
“Importance of sleep,” American Psychological Association web site; http://www.apa.org/topics/sleep/why.aspx, last accessed January 8, 2013.
Wasserman, M., “The health benefits of fermented foods,” Chatelaine web site, Aug. 20, 2012; http://www.chatelaine.com/health/diet/the-health-benefits-of-fermented-foods/.
“9 Foods to Help You Sleep,” Eating Well web site; http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/9_foods_to_help_you_sleep?page=6, last accessed January 8, 2014.
“How Food Affects Your Sleep,” Joy Bauer.com web site; http://www.joybauer.com/insomnia/how-food-affects-sleep.aspx, last accessed January 8, 2014.
Jio, S., “10 Foods That Can Help You Sleep,” Woman’s Day web site; http://www.womansday.com/health-fitness/10-foods-that-can-help-you-sleep-114149, last accessed January 8, 2014. 

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