The Best Foods That Help You Sleep
Sleep issues affect many of us — especially when trying to fall asleep and stay asleep. While there are a number of reasons for why you may be having a hard time dozing off, there are foods that can promote sleep and help you wake up refreshed.
That’s because how easily you fall asleep and the quality of sleep you get can be affected by what you eat. There are foods that calm your brain, and there are others that stimulate it.
Foods that can help promote sleep include those that are rich in tryptophan, Vitamins B6 and B3, as well as those high in Omega 3 fats, EPA & DHA. Here’s a detailed list of some foods within those four groups that will bring on the zzz’s.
Nutrients that Help You Sleep
Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that our bodies can’t self-produce. It’s needed as a precursor to melatonin, the “‘sleepy hormone.” Having a wholesome dinner with foods rich in tryptophan could help you fall into an easy, deep sleep.
Tryptophan-rich foods include:
- Organic soy
2) Omega 3 Fats EPA & DHA
Omega 3 Fats EPA & DHA have been linked to several health benefits, including curbing anxiety, improving eye health, battling heart disease and fighting inflammation. Researchers from the University of Oxford have found that these fatty acids are associated with better sleep because they can help release melatonin.
EPA & DHA-rich foods include:
- Bone Broth
- Grass-fed or pastured meats
- Pasture-raised eggs
3) Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 helps your body with the proper functioning of the nervous system by metabolizing proteins and fats, as well as converting food energy to glucose. It converts tryptophan to niacin and serotonin to regulate your sleep patterns.
Vitamin B6-rich foods include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Sunflower Seeds
4) Vitamin B3
Vitamin B3 is one of the essential B vitamins because it helps balance stress-related hormones. When tryptophan is converted into niacin (Vitamin B3), it becomes a nutrient that helps you fall asleep fast and stay asleep throughout the night.
Vitamin B3-rich foods include:
- Brown Rice
Reference: Two Hearts Nutrition
The Benefits of Bedtime Snacks
Most of the foods we’ve mentioned are good to eat as bedtime snacks. You may think that dinner is enough for the night, but it will depend on the interval between eating and sleeping. If your dinner is within two hours of your bedtime, then you can skip the snacks. However, if you are having trouble regulating your sleep, these snacks can help.
Going to bed on an empty stomach will only add to the discomfort you are feeling from not being able to get to sleep faster. Hunger may also wake you in the middle of the night. At the same time, eating a large meal before bedtime can cause uneasiness because your digestive systems slows down when you are sleeping.
You may want to eat your dinner early and allow a few hours for your body to digest the food. Then have a bedtime snack to help you doze off. Generally, go for well-balanced meals and snacks during the day. Don’t starve yourself before eating, and stop when you feel full, not stuffed.
These foods that help you sleep will become effective only if you keep in mind the other factors, too. Once your evening snacks include these high-nutrient foods, you might be able to sleep more soundly.
Along with your bedtime snacks, here are a few points to keep in mind to get the quality sleep you need.
Foods & Eating Habits to Avoid Before Bed
- Eating meals within 2 hours of bedtime. This triggers energy release and stimulates the digestive system, which can lead to indigestion and heartburn.
- Smoking 4-6 hours before bedtime. Nicotine is a neurostimulant that can cause sleep problems.
- Drinking coffee or caffeine. Caffeine keeps you in the lighter stages of sleep. Even one cup of coffee can cause problems.
- Drinking alcohol. Alcohol before bedtime causes you to wake up more often, which equals less REM sleep, which is the deepest state of sleep.
- Eating tyramine-rich foods before bed. These foods stimulate the brain. They include things like bacon, cheese, and chocolate.