The 5 Best Types of Foods for Sleep

Best Types of Food for Sleep

RESTFUL DREAMS & QUALITY ZZZs

“Don’t eat a big meal before bed.” It’s age-old advice, and there’s a good reason for it: eating can ignite processes within the body that don’t allow it to settle down properly in order to get a good night’s sleep.

But did you know: there ARE foods you can consume before bed that can actually help you get rejuvenating rest? 

Sleep issues, like insomnia, anxiety, and general problems falling asleep – or staying that way – affect a staggering number of people. According to the CDC, almost 90 million people get less than 7 hours each night. 

Given our busy lives and culture of constant movement, that doesn’t seem like much of a surprise. But if you consult sleep experts, these numbers are both overwhelming and concerning. 

While all experts don’t agree on the exact amount of hours we should be getting each night, they do generally feel the same about one thing: as a species, we definitely aren’t getting enough sleep. 

Our bodies are designed to rest. There are certain processes that happen while we’re awake, but others require sleep in order to kick in. And while our circadian rhythms try to keep that balance in check, we often throw it out of whack with the things we do in our daily lives. 

Here’s something that IS surprising: The quality of sleep we’re getting – and how much we get – isn’t affected by stress alone. Yes, we’re overworked and overstressed and trying to do ALL of the things all of the time. But the foods we eat also directly impact our ability to fall into a deep slumber. 

In the interest of prioritizing one of the body’s most important needs, we put together a list of 5 types of fIn the interest of prioritizing one of the body’s most important needs, we put together a list of 5 types of foods to help bring on the Zzzs. This way, when nighttime cravings hit, you’ll know which midnight snacks to choose.

1. Foods That Contain Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that our bodies can’t self-produce. It’s needed as a precursor to melatonin,aka  the “‘sleepy hormone.” Having a wholesome dinner with foods rich in tryptophan could help you fall into an easy, deep sleep later.

You can get more Tryptophan into your diet by eating:

  • Turkey
  • Other Poultry & Meats
  • Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Fish
  • Eggs

2. Foods That Contain Omega 3 Fats

Omega 3 Fats EPA & DHA have been linked to several health benefits, including curbing anxiety, 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 also found that these fatty acids are associated with better sleep because they can help release melatonin.

You can get more Omega 3s by eating (or drinking):

  • Bone Broth
  • Grass-Fed or Pasture-Raised Meats
  • Pasture-Raised Eggs
  • Halibut
  • Salmon
  • Tuna

3. Foods That Contain Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 assists the proper functioning of our nervous system by metabolizing proteins and fats, as well as converting food energy to glucose. B6 converts tryptophan to niacin and serotonin to help regulate sleep patterns..

You can get more Vitamin B6 into your diet by eating:

  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Spinach
  • Bananas

4. Foods That Contain 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 transforms into a nutrient that helps you fall asleep fast and stay asleep throughout the night. Niacin works with the adrenal gland to make these stress-reducing hormones, thereby helping the body relax by reducing anxiety and depression

You can get more Vitamin B3 into your diet by eating:

  • Beef
  • Liver
  • Poultry
  • Eggs
  • Dairy Products
  • Fish
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Legumes
  • Avocados
  • Whole Grains

5. Foods That Contain Glycine

And here’s the BIG one.

Glycine is the most prevalent amino acid in the human body and is considered the most important as well. 

Studies have shown that glycine can help significantly improve the quality of sleep, as well as helping people fall asleep faster and wake up less times during the night. Miraculously enough, it also helps reduce daytime sleepiness, and can support mental function and memory!

So, how does glycine work in the body?
Glycine is one of the body’s main building blocks for making collagen and creatine, both critical ingredients in building healthy muscle (along with various other important body functions and tissue). The brain also uses creatine for energy. Other biochemical processes for which glycine is needed include:

Regulating the body’s immune response
Affecting cognition and mood
Mediating appetite and digestion
Perceiving and managing pain
Production of RNA and DNA
Sleep regulation 

Glycine is also a powerful neurotransmitter that helps the body produce serotonin, the “happy neurotransmitter” found primarily in your brain and gut. Serotonin is a key ingredient in the production of melatonin, and melatonin is critical for a good night’s sleep as it helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle (aka circadian rhythm). It also helps lower your core body temperature through NMDA receptors, a change that naturally occurs as you drift into the first stages of sleep.

You can get more Glycine  into your diet by eating (or drinking):

  • Meat
  • Eggs 
  • Dairy 
  • Fish
  • Bananas
  • Kiwi
  • Spinach
  • Pumpkin
  • Kale
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage

But one of the most POTENT sources of glycine is…drum roll:
BONE BROTH.

Smarter Bedtime Snacking

Most of the foods we’ve mentioned are okay right before bed. You may find that you’re having dinner too early in the evening – or have been told not to eat a certain amount of hours before sleep – but then your body is restless because it’s signaling hunger again. 

Going to bed on an empty stomach can 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 system slows down when you are sleeping.

The best solution?

Drink a mug of bone broth in the evening! 

Not only will it keep you full – without making you feel stuffed – but will also give your body the nutrients it needs to wind down and wake up refreshed.

Cheers to your new nighttime routine. Dream clean.

Resources:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6506a1.htm?s_cid=mm6506a1_w
  2. https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2014-03-06-higher-levels-omega-3-diet-associated-better-sleep
  3. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1111/j.1479-8425.2007.00262.x
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4397399/

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