If you think you are one of those people who feels sleepy after every Thanksgiving meal and who blames the turkey for your fatigue, you may have been duped. As it turns out, this is one of the biggest food myths. However, there are other ordinary foods, like certain nuts, that can actually help you to fall asleep faster. Not only that, but they can treat insomnia and help you have a peaceful sleep without waking up in the middle of the night.
Bright Side would like to show you 8 foods that are proven to help with sleeping issues, plus a bonus about what you should avoid.
Fatty fish, and especially salmon, is rich in omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D. This unique combination is believed to be very beneficial for treating insomnia. The reason is that these 2 things help produce more serotonin, which has been proven to promote easier sleep.
More specifically, people with a vitamin D deficiency have been found to be more prone to having sleep trouble. And wild salmon is one of the richest sources of vitamin D, while farmed salmon is way less beneficial.
2. Almonds and walnuts
Almonds are rich in a substance called melatonin. They are also rich in magnesium and calcium, 2 minerals that help relax your muscles. The way magnesium works is by reducing inflammation that can cause a lot of anxiety and pain to the sufferer.
Walnuts provide very similar properties and they also contain tryptophan, a sleep-inducing amino acid. This acid has been found to provide help to patients suffering from mild insomnia. Also, walnuts are rich in fatty acids, which raise the levels of serotonin even higher, helping you fall asleep even faster.
3. Herbal tea
Chamomile tea, in particular, contains high doses of flavones and apigenin. On one hand, flavones reduce inflammation which induces a more stress-free sleep. On the other hand, apigenin is a great antioxidant that has the ability to promote sleepiness and reduce the effects of insomnia.
Passionflower is a well-known vine that helps people deal with insomnia, anxiety, and pain. It is an over-the-counter medicine that, on many occasions, has helped people reduce brain activity. This is ideal since many people find their brains fully activated even after they have tucked themselves into bed.
In a study that took place in 2011, 24 participants were fed 2 kiwis one hour before sleep for 4 weeks. At the end of this period, all participants noticed improved sleep patterns. They observed that they slept better, fell asleep faster, and didn’t wake up in the middle of the night. It is believed that a kiwi’s high level of serotonin is the main reason that they can be so beneficial when it comes to insomnia.
5. White rice
Due to its high glycemic rate, rice has been found to promote quality sleep. In a study where 1,848 people participated, it was concluded that those who ate more rice had a much better sleep duration. Also, a past study showed that kids under 2 years of age had much better sleep after consuming high-glycemic-index items for their evening meal.
The same study suggests that rice promotes the production of melatonin and tryptophan. It is also important to mention that Japanese people consume great quantities of rice on a daily basis. So, it is expected that the food’s properties will play a huge part in affecting their sleep in a positive way.
6. Fresh sour cherries and sour cherry juice
Sour or tart cherries are rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Thanks to all these properties, a study has suggested that they can help with insomnia. They reduce inflammation, while they increase the levels of melatonin.
Melatonin is produced by our bodies naturally, but it may not be enough for those suffering from insomnia. That’s why enlisting some extra help, like consuming cherries, can increase its levels. Let it be noted that melatonin won’t put you to sleep immediately, it will just help you relax faster.
7. Holy basil
The way holy basil works is by reducing cortisol in our bodies. The latter is responsible for increasing our stress levels and therefore creating sleeplessness and insomnia. So, you can add this herb to your pasta or, more commonly, infuse it in some hot water and drink it like a tea.
Like many of the foods mentioned above, oats also contain tryptophan. Not only that, but they are also rich in vitamin B3, which helps in serotonin production. This vitamin is a wonderful shield against cholesterol and it is also a great antioxidant.
It has been found that vitamin B3 deficiency can cause anxiety, fatigue, and memory loss. On many occasions, people have suffered from depression because of this deficiency. This means that eating oats will not only increase serotonin and therefore help you sleep better, but it will also shield you from depression.
Bonus: Avoid drinking black tea or anything with caffeine.
It is no secret that caffeine is included in many drinks such as coffee, tea leaves and cacao. As a psychoactive substance, it stimulates brain activity and that’s why you drink it in the morning after waking up. Also, caffeine messes with the melatonin levels in our blood, meaning that it keeps us awake for longer if consumed close to bedtime.
So, not only does it keep you awake for longer, but it also prevents you from going into deep sleep. A study revealed that consuming caffeine 6 hours before bedtime can reduce your sleep by 41 minutes. If you are experiencing sleep troubles you should think about reducing coffee, black tea or sodas before bed.
Have you tried any of the above foods before going to bed? Or have you found something else that has improved the quality of your sleep?