I’ve often joked that if I could be healthy, energized, and rested without having to sleep, I would choose that. I’ve never much “liked” going to sleep. I’ve always been that way. The kid making excuses to stay up later. Not wanting to miss out on anything.
But sleep is obviously necessary and I try quiet my inner child so I can get plenty of good restful sleep. I’m one of the lucky ones who can generally sleep well.
If you are not so lucky in that department, here are some foods that you might like to enjoy.
Melatonin is a hormone that the pineal gland in your brain produces naturally to regulate your circadian rhythm. Melatonin is produced at night and is suppressed by the light of day. Melatonin can also be found in foods, including:
– Tart cherries, particularly Montmorency cherries
You’ve probably felt sleepy after a big turkey dinner. Part of the reason may be from too much food. Part may be from the extra carbohydrates. The tryptophan content certainly helps. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is a precursor for serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep, mood, and appetite.
Turkey is the best known for its tryptophan content, but all animal proteins contain tryptophan. Other foods include:
– Nuts and seeds, especially pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds, walnuts
– Legumes like split peas, beans (black beans, kidney beans, etc.), lentils
Magnesium deficiency is a common nutritional challenge. Because magnesium helps relax muscles and calm nerves, it too can help improve sleep. Magnesium foods include:
– Dark leafy greens such as spinach, Swiss chard, mustard greens
– Pumpkin seeds (note that this food is listed twice as a good sleep food!)
– Cashews, almonds, Brazil nuts (nuts listed here again!)
– Edamame beans and other legumes (hint: eat more legumes)
– Flax, sesame seeds, tahini
and I saved the best for last here…
– Dark chocolate! But, of course, chocolate also contains caffeine and sugar, so do not eat too much and do not eat it too late
I could have mentioned dairy products as well as a sleep-inducing food, but because I usually recommend my patients limit or avoid dairy, I haven’t chosen to include it here.
Other food tips for a restful sleep:
– Avoid eating too late, but a light carbohydrate snack can support serotonin levels
– Avoid having too much caffeine too late in the day, and keep in mind that caffeine can affect you hours after you consume it
– Try some relaxing chamomile, lavender, or lemon balm tea in the evening
Lemon balm is also known as Melissa officinalis. It has long been used to help reduce stress, calm nerves, and improve sleep. Have you been on my aaahhhhhhcupuncture table? Then I hope you find that to be true! But I hope I don’t put you to sleep otherwise! 🙂
It’s my turn for some of my own medicine…good night!