What to Eat for Deep Sleep

By Pina LoGiudice ND, LAc and Peter Bongiorno ND, LAc Directors of Inner Source Health

Posted on | By Pina LoGiudice ND, LAc, Peter Bongiorno ND, LAc | Comments ()

Problem: Trouble Staying Asleep?

Solution: Pumpkin Seed Powder

Pumpkin seeds and the powder from pumpkin seeds have relatively high amounts of the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is the amino acid the body uses to make the feel-good and relaxation neurotransmitter serotonin.  Pumpkin seeds also contain high amounts of zinc, which can help the brain convert tryptophan into serotonin. Serotonin levels are typically low in people who cannot stay asleep and wake throughout the night.

It is best to take about 1 cup of seeds or ½ cup of the powder with applesauce or another healthy carbohydrate; the carbohydrate allows the tryptophan to get into the brain in higher amounts. 

Problem: Occasional Trouble Winding Down to Fall Asleep

Solution: Pulque

Still relatively unfamiliar to most of us, pulque is an thousand-year-old native Mexican milk-colored alcoholic beverage made from the fermented sap of the maguey plant (a type of agave), and it is high in melatonin. This drink is a bit more frothy and less alcoholic than its modern beer counterpart. While it is an age-old drink, it is becoming quite trendy these days.

Due to its melatonin content and alcohol content, it functions as a relaxant that can help someone unwind in the evening and prepare for sleep. As such, it is best to have after dinner. It should not be used by anyone with a history or tendency for alcoholism and should not be ingested by minors or pregnant women. We also do not recommend it as a daily solution – just an occasional one.

Problem: Nervous Exhaustion and Sleeplessness

Solution: Scottish Oatmeal

A favorite breakfast food, oatmeal is really a cereal grain made from the herb Avena sativa. Avena is known in traditional herbal medicine as a calming plant that is nutritious for a frazzled nervous system. We often recommend regular intake of oatmeal to help our patients’ bodies cope with long-term stressors more effectively.  

Oats contain melatonin and complex carbohydrates that can help more tryptophan get into the brain to help you sleep. It also contains vitamin B6, a vitamin which is a co-factor that helps more serotonin get produced in the brain as well.

 

While you might think of oatmeal only as a breakfast food, it also is a smart choice for a bedtime snack. The Scottish recommend a bowl of oatmeal in the evening to get you feeling nice and sleepy. 

Article written by Pina LoGiudice ND, LAc
Co-Medical Director of Inner Source Health in New York

Article written by Peter Bongiorno ND, LAc
Co-Medical Director of Inner Source Health in New York