Eat to Improve Sleep

Updated: May 10, 2021

Are you up at night feeling anxious and restless? Do you have trouble putting your children to sleep? Whether it's you or your little ones suffering from sleepless nights, these are some helpful tips to get better sleep.



Food that improves your sleep also improves your overall health and metabolism. While looking great and getting in shape, you will also benefit from a good night's rest. There are numerous substances found in food that induce sleep. We will focus on melatonin, tryptophan, serotonin, calcium, and vitamin D.

 

1) Melatonin: A hormone in the body that regulates your sleep and wake cycle. Melatonin is naturally released in the body at night during restful sleep. Consuming melatonin tells your body it's time for bed.


2) Serotonin: A chemical released in the body that stabilizes mood and promotes digestion, among many other things. Foods that contain tryptophan, induce the release of serotonin. Serotonin makes you more relaxed, reduces anxieties, and enables you to fall asleep easier.


3) Calcium and Vitamin D: This combination is important in sleep because it promotes muscle relaxation. Remember, you need vitamin D to absorb calcium. Relaxation of muscles decrease tension throughout your body. This relaxation allows for restful sleep.


 

***The following foods naturally contain a combination of the above mentioned substances. This makes them a great bedtime snack or addition to dinner:


- sour cherries

- walnuts

- almonds (and variable nuts and seeds)

- corn

- ginger root

- peanuts

- beans

- warm milk

- calcium and vitamin D fortified dairy products

- whole grains/oats

- lean protein and fatty fish (if meat is your preference)

- greens (collard greens, kale, broccoli)



 

***Foods and Habits to Avoid Before Bed:


- Fatty meats and fried foods

- Processed carbohydrates

- Spicy foods

- Caffeine

- Exercising before sleep (Stay active/ exercise early in the day)

- Eating large meals less than 2hrs before bed

- Day time naps

- Inconsistent bedtime routines

- Hot sleeping environment

- Too much lighting in bedroom

- Blue light stimulation from TV and other electronic devices



Use age appropriate diet options for your little ones (My kids love peanut butter and jelly with a warm cup of vanilla almond milk). Ask a physician if considering the use of supplements instead of the diet changes recommended.



References:

https://health.clevelandclinic.org/5-foods-that-help-you-sleep/

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324295#walnuts

https://www.nof.org/patients/treatment/calciumvitamin-d/a-guide-to-calcium-rich-foods/

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