Monday, July 23, 2012

Foods That Help You Sleep

For those of us who are not great sleepers, or those who have more than their share of "bad nights", we know how valuable a good night’s sleep is.  You read of the many ways to get to sleep, but as a person with sleeping problems; it took me years to find a way to help me sleep on a regular basis.

sleep foods
Add these fruits when you're nutty without a good night's sleep.
I believe we are NOT powerless to help ourselves in this situation though.  And from years of studying and personal experience, I  know what we eat can go a long way toward solving the problem all together.  When I eat right, I sleep right:  just food, juices, and smoothies.  For me, it took some time of ingesting these sleep producing foods before sleepless nights became a thing of the past, but after years of struggle, I finally knew what it was to get a "good night’s sleep."

So what are the foods that help you sleep better when our head hits the pillow?
  • Cherries:  They contain a significant amount of melatonin, a hormone produced in the pineal gland at the base of the brain that influences your sleep cycle. Make them “tart cherries”, and you get even more bang for your buck.
  • Bananas: This versatile fruit is packed with nutritional properties. The sleep aids contained in this, most common of fruits, are: potassium and magnesium, natural muscle relaxants.  L-Tryptophan, an essential amino acid that helps the body in producing serotonin and melatonin. Eating one in the evening is especially helpful. Try it blended with a little milk and a couple of dates and you’ve got yourself a delicious Bedtime Smoothie.
  • Dates:  Dates are another natural source of l-tryptophan, an essential amino acid that helps the body produce serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin is a critical component for getting good sleep and a happy life.
  • Figs:  These tasty morsels are rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium. So, indulge yourself.
  • Nuts:  Almonds, a particularly good source of l-tryptophan and magnesium, are great to munch on at bedtime. Try drinking almond milk in place of cow’s milk. You can either make it yourself, or buy it from the store. Use it as the base for the Bedtime Smoothie (see below). What a delicious way to get the nutrients you need for a sound sleep.
  • Chia Seeds:  An l-tryptophan winner. They are good for you for so many reasons. Using them as a sleep aid is just one more reason to give them a try. Sprinkle some over your salads, mix them in your smoothies, or even drop a teaspoon of them into your fruit juices. You’ll be surprised by the delightful bit of texture they bring to anything. This one is a Dr. Oz favorite.
  • Sweet Potato:  In some arenas, the sweet potato is considered a Superfood, and its high content of l-tryptophan is one of the reasons vegetarians worldwide make this food a staple.  It is also the double whammy in a thanksgiving dinner when served alongside the turkey. Talk about nap time. It was the sweet potato that was my sleep aid of choice when I first decided to tackle my sleep problems with food. I ate it every day for about two weeks, and soon sweet sleep swept into my life, and I was able to slam the door on insomnia.
  • Yogurt with Granola:  This yummy combination can activate neurotransmitters in the brain that signal it is time to go to sleep. Not to mention the beneficial bacteria that makes for a happy digestive track, which in itself, can lead to a sounder night’s sleep.
  • Oatmeal:  While most people eat it for breakfast, what they don’t know is, it is a natural for an evening snack. Because it’s rich in melatonin it makes a great sleep aid. It also has the advantage of being a carbohydrate loaded snack which raises your blood sugar increasing your insulin levels, only to have sugar levels fall, and like a beautiful dance it releases chemicals in the brain that lull you into a sweet sleep.
So the next time you have sleep problems, take a look in your own refrigerator, pantry, or cupboard for these awesome natural sleep aids. Your answer may be right there, just waiting for you to take a bite. 

Here is a healthy recipe with a few of the foods with melatonin to help you sleep.

Bedtime Smoothie Recipe:

1 C Almond Milk (or regular milk)
½ C Water
3-5 dates
1 small banana
Dash of Vanilla

Sleep Tight!

Gwendolyn Adams
First Level Raw Nutrition Certification
Advanced Practitioner of Health through Nutrition, Exercise and Education
Yoga, Cycling, Group Exercise and Personal Trainer Certified

3 comments:

  1. Great blog! You have literally helped me cure my insomnia:-)

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  2. Nice tips! I too had these problems of staying awake. I advice not to go to bed hungry. A light snack before bedtime can keep hunger pangs from waking you up. For example, have a bowl of oatmeal, cereal with low-fat milk or yogurt with granola. If you have diabetes, discuss nighttime snacks with your doctor.

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  3. Great blog! All this is fine but i just have a cup or lukewarm/warm milk and that itself is more than sufficient..

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