Trouble sleeping lately? You’re not alone. Needless to say, Covid-19-related anxiety has disrupted a lot of things lately, including sleep! Sleep is crucial for mental clarity, emotional well-being, and physical health. So it’s no surprise we feel irritable, hungry, and sluggish after a lousy night’s sleep. But left unchecked, sleep deficiency can actually lead to more serious concerns like heart disease, obesity, kidney disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and diabetes. Fortunately, there are a ton of resources out there to help improve sleep. From meditation apps and sound machines, to eye masks and “chilly” sheets… but did you know you can also improve your sleep just through the foods you eat? It’s true! Try these 7 foods and drinks to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep through the night:
Nuts: Nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashews, and pistachios contain melatonin. Melatonin is a naturally produced hormone that is important to the body’s sleep-wake cycle. Nuts also contain varying amounts of magnesium and zinc, which have also been found to improve sleep.
Poultry: Chicken and turkey are great sources of protein, and in turn, have an essential amino acid called L-tryptophan. Tryptophan, which is also found in meat, fish, eggs, soy products, and dairy, is needed for the body’s production of serotonin. Serotonin improves your mood and aids in relaxation, helping you sleep better.
Kiwifruits: Kiwis are rich in serotonin and antioxidants, both of which may improve sleep quality when eaten before bed. A study showed that participants who ate two kiwifruits an hour before bedtime fell asleep faster and had improved sleep quality.
Tart cherry juice: Tart cherry juice (and tart cherries) contains melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone. Tart cherries and tart cherry juice are also rich in antioxidants that may contribute to better sleep.
Fatty fish: Fatty fish is a great source of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, both of which influence the body’s production of serotonin. Fatty fish has been linked to better sleep for this reason.
White rice: White rice gets a bad rap but it may actually be helpful for sleep due to its high glycemic index. A study found that eating rice about four hours before bedtime helps with falling asleep. This could be because carbohydrates assist in the production of tryptophan and serotonin. But keep in mind, certain carbohydrates and high glycemic foods, such as sugary foods and drinks, ultimately lead to poor sleep.
Herbal teas: There are a few teas that have been noted to improve sleep, such as chamomile and passionflower. Both have apigenin, an antioxidant that can decrease anxiety and induce sleep. Other herbal teas that may help sleep include kava kava, catnip, lavender and valerian root.
Try these out and catch some zzz’s!
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