A 2007 study suggests that eating Jasmine rice about four hours before bed will reduce the time you take to fall asleep by half. This is because high-glycemic-index meals – foods the body digests slowly and progressively releasing glucose into the blood – may increase the production of tryptophan, an amino acid that makes you sleepy.
If you need some help sleeping better, eat salmon, halibut or tuna for dinner. They have a lot of vitamin B6, which is what the pineal gland needs to produce melatonin, “the sleep hormone,” a neurohormone involved in the sleep-wake cycle. Fish are rich in tryptophan, which naturally produces serotonin and melatonin, hormones responsible for normal sleep. Its best sources are shrimp and lobster.
Cherries are a great source of melatonin. Opt for a cherry juice or even dried cherries if the fresh fruit is out of season. A 2010 study found people who drank cherry juice fell asleep faster and for longer. Participants also reported improvements in their insomnia symptoms. Drink a glass or have a cup of cherries an hour before bedtime.
Bananas have a lot of magnesium and potassium, which help the muscles relax. Supplementation of magnesium appears to improve subjective measures of insomnia, according to a study, such as ISI (insomnia severity index) score, sleep efficiency, sleep time, and sleep onset latency (early morning awakening). The superfood is also rich on vitamin B6, which promotes the production of melatonin, and tryptophan, both linked to sleep quality.
Hummus is made from chickpeas, and both of which are crucial for regular sleep patterns due to their high content of vitamin B6 and tryptophan. Some call chickpeas the “miracle legume” because they are also filling, resulting in less eating and therefore maintaining your weight. If you don’t like hummus, try roasted chickpeas, desserts with chickpea cookie dough (which is gluten-free), or chickpeas avocado salad.
Did your parents make you drink milk before bed? Turns out they were right. Dairy products are high in calcium, the body’s most abundant mineral, which helps regulate melatonin. Some studies have indicated that people who lack calcium have problems falling and staying asleep. Milk also contains tryptophan. That’s why it has a sedative effect and people tend to fall asleep faster. Researchers have found that calcium levels in the body are higher during the deepest phases of sleep.
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Fortified cereal is cereal cooked with added vitamins and minerals. The cereal has a lot of vitamin B6, needed for the production of melatonin. The carbs in these kinds of cereals are the healthy ones –complex, unprocessed and containing fiber. Studies show the complex carbs help people fall asleep easier because they break down slowly, preventing blood sugar spikes and keeping serotonin levels consistent for a longer period of time.
Sweet potatoes are another great source of complex carbohydrates that promote better sleep. Plus, they also have plenty of potassium, a muscle-relaxant. A study shows a genetic link between potassium and slow-wave sleep. A gene responsible for regulating the flow of potassium is also the gene that is required for slow-wave sleep, the deepest phase of our sleep cycle.
Turkey is loaded with tryptophan, the amino acid that brings on sleepiness. Tryptophan is also needed for the body to produce serotonin, which is then used to make melatonin. But turkey alone won’t make a big difference as you would basically have to overeat. Consuming it with healthy carbs will have a more positive effect.
Herbal teas, as long as they are decaf, relax you and can make you sleepy. Green tea, for example, contains theanine, an amino acid that encourages sleep. Many people prefer valerian or chamomile tea at night. Valerian is a common ingredient in products promoted as mild sedatives and sleep aids for nervous tension and insomnia.
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Green leafy veggies are a good source of calcium, which encourages better sleep because they help the brain produce tryptophan to make melatonin. Strawberries have lots of vitamin B6. Research has shown pineapples boost the production of melatonin like few other foods. People who ate the fruit had 266 percent higher levels of melatonin than others.
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Loaded with tryptophan, walnuts are also proven to be a natural source of serotonin and melatonin. Almonds are rich in the muscle relaxant magnesium, which is important for keeping regular sleep patterns. Just a handful an hour before bed will do the trick. Studies have shown that when the body is too low on magnesium, it will take longer to fall asleep.