[su_dropcap style=”default” size=”3″ class=””]T[/su_dropcap]he Centers for Disease Control reports that 4% of adults over the age of 20 reported taking sleep medications in the last month. This is no surprise, considering the number of those being diagnosed with a sleep-related disorder is on the rise. However, instead of turning to pharmaceutical drugs, many doctors and researchers are taking a better look at diets and nutrition as a way to encourage healthier, more effective sleep. The following five foods have been shown to aid those with sleep issues find a more restful night by simply supplementing your daily diet:
5 Foods that Help You Sleep
This tropical fruit is often deemed a “superfood,” given its role in helping build healthy muscles, improve weakened immune systems, and aid in cellular repair. Recently, researchers from Taipei Medical University discovered that eating kiwi before bed may help improve sleep quality of those suffering from insomnia. Participants fell asleep faster, stayed asleep for longer, and had a more peaceful and rejuvenating sleep compared to the study’s control group.
2. Cherry Juice
Recent studies have shined a light on the benefits of tart cherry juice and its ability to help maintain weight as well as aid in a good night’s sleep. Researchers from Louisiana State University demonstrated this theory with seven elderly adults asked to drink cherry juice twice a day. Compared to a placebo drink or no drink at all, participants slept an average of 84 minutes longer. This effect is most likely a result of a red pigment of the juice, which releases amino acids,preventing sleep enzymes from breaking down.
While a high protein meal is typically not the ideal diet before falling asleep, a diet of seafood containing omega-3 DHA fatty acids may actually make longer nights in bed a reality. University of Oxford studied the correlation between omega-3 acid deficiencies and their relation to lack of sleep in children. Those who received supplements of the acid were able to sleep 58 minutes longer and with fewer disruptions. However, instead of supplements, adults can get their daily fill of omega-3 acids by consuming seafood such as salmon, seaweed, and sardines.
If there were not enough reasons to strive for more vegetables a day, studies by the National Sleep Foundation looking at the effect of calcium deficiencies on insomnia have found that vegetables high in the nutrient may be a natural key to improving sleep quality. Lettuce, which also contains high levels of potassium, necessary for a healthy nervous system, is a high producer of calcium and magnesium (the key ingredients in keeping the body asleep for longer).
5. Cereal With Milk
Dairy is a powerful and popular sleeping tool. It’s no wonder why parents for generations have been sending their children to bed with a warm glass of milk. However, milk’s favorite counterpart, cereal, also can help those with sleeplessness find a restful night’s sleep. It’s in all the carbohydrates and whole grain found in the box of cereal. The carbs produce a sleep hormone called tryptophan which helps regulate the body’s natural sleep cycles.
Foods to Avoid
Of course, there are foods to avoid if diagnosed with a sleep disorder or just generally interested in improving your sleep. The most obvious of which are foods and drinks that contain energy “supplements.” These products are full of unhealthy levels of caffeine and taurine which raises adrenaline levels, and when consumed earlier in the day, can make it harder to re-regulate the body’s need to fall asleep at a normal hour.
Spicy foods such as pastas and sauces can harm the digestive system if the body is prone to fits of indigestion and heartburn. Often, these side effects of a spicy meal can become more prevalent at night or when lying down. Eventually, this prevents the body from fully shutting down until digestive relief can be found.
Lastly, while it may be traditional to start a bedtime routine off with a nightcap, consuming hard alcohol may actually do more harm than good. Alcohol dehydrates the body, which makes it difficult to stay asleep. In addition, wine releases tyrosine—a stimulant that can keep you up at night.
Eating Healthier for a Better Night’s Rest
The key to good sleep health through nutrition is finding foods that contain calcium, magnesium, fatty acids, and healthy carbohydrates, while avoiding processed sugars and stimulants. By making some simple changes to your diet, such as consuming cherry juice or eating a kiwi before bed, you can change the quality of your sleep.