A sound sleep is essential to promote the healthy functioning of the human body. While some of you may fall asleep as soon as you hit the bed, many might be struggling to tip the scales towards a good night of sleep every day. Irrespective of your lifestyle, work commitments and nearing deadlines, it is recommended that an average adult gets nearly 7-9 hours of consistent sleep. The recommended duration of sleep varies for different age groups. Many researchers believe that both lifestyle and dietary habits have a significant role to play in improving your sleeping behavior and letting you have an adequate amount of restful sleep.
Sleeping adequately has been associated with multifarious benefits such as improving your cognitive functions, strengthening your immunity, keeping a check on your stress levels and also reducing the risk of developing chronic health problems such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and diseases of the cardiovascular system. A major chunk of the population struggles to get enough sleep every day which is an alarming situation considering the repercussions sleep deprivation has on human health.
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Aside from adopting better lifestyle habits as a part of your sleep hygiene, making the right dietary choices may also help improve the quality of your sleep. The food we eat hosts a variety of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals; some of which are known to affect our circadian rhythms. These include tryptophan, magnesium, calcium, GABA, serotonin, potassium, zinc, folate, antioxidants, vitamin B and D among many others. Although these compounds are present in a range of food groups, their sleep-inducing activity has been reported only when present abundantly in selected foods. Taking into account the pieces of evidence from scientific research, including such foods in your diet may help you sleep fast and sound.
Let’s uncover 7 foods attributed with sleep-promoting properties, that might contribute towards improving your sleep-wake patterns and in turn upgrade the quality of your sleep:
#01 Chow down on a Handful of Almonds
Almonds pack within them a good quantity of magnesium, riboflavin, phosphorus, and manganese, fiber, antioxidants, and monounsaturated fats. These nutty delights are specifically abundant in melatonin and serotonin, both known to promote sleep.
Magnesium has been known to reduce the levels of the stress hormone, and hence elevates the quality of sleep particularly in those suffering from insomnia.
A study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, suggests that supplementing the diet of elderly with almonds helped manage insomnia among participants.
- Eat up a few almonds every night before bedtime.
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#02 Soothe Yourself with a Cup of Chamomile Tea
Chamomile is an herbal tea variant brimming with antioxidants. Besides being popularly used as a stress buster, the relaxing properties of chamomile are known to help improve sleep quality. The sleep-promoting benefits of chamomile stem from its constituent antioxidant called apigenin which binds to specific receptors in the brain associated with sleep and helps reduce insomnia.
A study published in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies concluded that supplementing a twice-daily dose of 270 mg of chamomile extract for 28 days helped participants experience a 15 minute earlier onset of sleep as well as improving the consistency of sleep.
- Brew a cup of chamomile tea and drink before bed to get enough shut-eye.
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#03 Drink a Glass of Warm Milk
Often touted as a remedy to help lull children and infants to sleep, milk works wonders for adults as well. Milk hosts a range of essential and non-essential nutrients including vitamin D, melatonin, tryptophan, and calcium- all known to promote sleep.
- Include a cup of warm milk as a night ritual every day.
#04 Go for Kiwis
The low-calorie kiwi fruit is a source of significant amounts of fiber, antioxidants including vitamin C, vitamin K, moderate amounts of potassium and folate and several trace minerals as well. Kiwi fruit contains a considerable amount of serotonin which makes it a great food choice to eat right before bedtime.
A study found out that partaking 2 kiwi fruits an hour before bedtime every night for 4 weeks helped induce sleep 42% faster while improving the quality by 5%.
- Include kiwi in your meals.
#05 Consider Eating Fatty Fishes
Fatty fishes are chock-full of tryptophan, vitamin D, omega fatty acids and vitamin B6– all contributing to the production of melatonin and serotonin; the sleep-inducing compounds.
- Include fatty fishes such as salmon, trout, mackerel, and tuna in your diet to reap their nutritious benefits.
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#06 Snack on Walnuts
Walnuts are a nutrient-rich source replete with proteins, omega fatty acids, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, and copper.
Aside from containing melatonin, the presence of omega fatty acids helps walnuts produce DHA which elevates the levels of a hormone called serotonin, known to promote sleep.
A study published in the Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, suggests that the omega fatty acid content in walnuts helps contribute to the production of serotonin, a hormone that helps induce sleep. However, considerable scientific evidence is required in this regard.
- Snack on a handful of nuts close to bedtime to fall asleep faster.
#07 Increase Your Intake of Whole Grains
Consumption of whole grains aka complex carbohydrates helps boost the flow of tryptophan which in turn helps promote better sleep. Including cereals fortified with tryptophan and vitamin B6 in your daily diet is an effective way to help encourage a good night’s sleep regularly.
A study published in Age has corroborated the intake of tryptophan fortified cereals as a possible dietary intervention to induce sleep in the elderly.
- Eat a bowl of low sugar oatmeal, whole wheat crackers, or popcorn to sleep quickly
Adopting a healthier lifestyle and dietary interventions while sticking to a balanced diet and exercise regimen can help improve your sleeping behavior tremendously. Consume these foods 1-2 hours before bedtime to avoid any adverse effects on digestion. Although there is some amount of anecdotal and scientific relevance which is quite promising, further research is required in this direction.