When you think about food, how often do you associate it with sleep? Not quite often, right? I mean who really asks themselves: “What food should I eat to put me to sleep tonight?” The more common question is “What should I eat that will taste ‘ono and will make my stomach and taste buds happy?” Well, at least that’s what I ask myself every time I eat! Although most of us think what we eat during the day has no correlation to our sleep, the reality is there are certain foods which can assist us in getting a better night’s rest! Let’s take a look at some of those foods that help you sleep better!
Calcium. My mother always gave me a glass of warm milk right before bed. She said it would help me sleep better and give me, as she put it, “peaceful” dreams. As it turns out, she was right – great job mom!. Even in history, old wives’ tales suggested warm milk would make you sleepy. The truth is that any dairy product can help. Calcium found in dairy products, contains an amino acid called tryptophan. Tryptophan is converted to melatonin which is secreted at night by the pineal gland to induce and maintain sleep. Whether it is cheese, yogurt, or milk, calcium helps the brain in making you sleepy and helping you stay asleep at night.
Carbohydrates. If you’ve ever exercised or played a sport frequently, then you should know to always pack up on carbs after your hard work out. How does this relate to sleeping better? Well besides the fact that exercising regularly ensures a better night sleep, the carbohydrates you eat afterward also help you to sleep better. So after a long day of work or school (and your workout), experts suggest eating easily digestable carbohydrates to replenish the lost nutrients in your body which also helps you fall asleep faster. If you’re like me – who gets up at 5am every day for a quick yoga routine; works all day until 6pm, then goes home to take care of my family – falling asleep quickly makes a world of a difference between a full 8 hours of sleep and 7 hours or less. Trust me I can feel the difference in my body the next day!
Proteins. Proteins are defined as long chains of amino acids – well that’s the simplified definition for those who aren’t very chemistry savvy, like me for instance! Since Tryptophan is an amino acid that assists the brain in helping you sleep, foods high in protein are great to achieve a sleepy effect. Pair your protein with a carbohydrate and you have a winning combination. So the best bedtime snacks are those that contain both protein and carbohydrates, like cheese and crackers, cereal and milk, or toast with peanut butter.
Fruits and vegetables. Besides the awesome, nutritious reasons you should be chowing down on fruits and vegetables every day, here’s another great reason to encourage eating your greens: they can help improve your sleep! For instance, some leafy kale and collards boast healthy doses of calcium, which from what we’ve learned earlier contain the “sleepy” amino acid Tryptophan. Also, stock up on some bananas, which are rich in potassium and a great source of vitamin B6. The B6 vitamin is needed by the brain to make melatonin (the sleep inducing hormone converted from Tryptophan), which is then triggered by darkness. So go and get your fruit and veggie on!
Studies have shown that two in five Americans are not getting the recommended amount of sleep (7+ hours a night). So if you’re one of those two of five, then maybe taking a look at your daily diet may help. Plan for a carbohydrate and protein snack after dinner with some peanut butter on toast. Eat your greens with your dinner, and toss in some fruits filled with vitamin B6. Or enjoy a good old fashion warm glass of milk to help you fall into a nice slumber. But whether or not it’ll give you peaceful dreams? You’ll have to be the judge!
Sleep Foundation: Sleepfoundation.org
Kellie Ancheta is the Sales Manager at SlumberWorld Hilo. Born and raised in Hilo, she decided to stay and raise her now five-year-old daughter in her hometown. Kellie also loves fashion, technology, and good food, and hopes to travel the world to experience the two in all different kinds of settings. Here at SlumberWorld, she takes pride in being able to assist each and every client with finding a suitable mattress for that perfect slumber every night.