You may not think what happens at your dinner table has much to do with your nights of tossing and turning, but there is a connection. Diets high in refined sugar can cause indigestion and trigger insulin surges that interfere with the hormones that affect sleep. The solution: low-fat and high-fiber foods. When you eat is as important as what you eat for a peaceful night. Eating late at night forces your body and brain to be digesting instead of resting. Avoid eating 3 hours before you go to bed.
The following are simple, tasty and nutritious options to help you get the 7-8 hours of sleep that are so critical to your health:
Bananas are chockfull of potassium and magnesium, which both help to relax your muscles to give you a peaceful night’s sleep. Bananas also have the added benefit of helping to lower your blood pressure while you sleep.
Popcorn with parmesan cheese provides a delicious combination of carbohydrates and dairy. Dairy has tryptophan in it, which is a precursor to a sleep-inducing hormone, and the carbohydrates in the popcorn help your brain absorb tryptophan better. For simple instructions to make light, homemade popcorn, click here.
Top your salads with chia seeds; they contain the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan. The tryptophan in chia seeds, like in turkey, raises melatonin and serotonin levels, which promotes stable sleep. With more than twice the tryptophan of turkey, you’ll need just 2 ounces of chia seeds to help you snooze.
Wheat germ sprinkled on yogurt or cereal will provide you with a boost of vitamin B6, used in sleep aids for its ability to alleviate stress and anxiety. Try 1 teaspoon of wheat germ for more restful sleep.
A cup of valerian tea with honey before bed is a centuries-old practice. The natural compounds in valerian tea have been used as a sedative and may help reduce the amount of time it takes for you to fall asleep. The glucose in honey will help you relax as you are trying to fall asleep; it affects orexin, a neurotransmitter that has been linked to alertness. To learn more about the health benefits of honey, click here.
Tart cherry juice is rich in melatonin, the sleep hormone that regulates and resets your internal clock. Drink an 8 oz. glass in the morning and 2 hours before bed for sweet dreams. To get the full benefit, drink this juice at a scheduled time every day. To read more about melatonin, click here.
A turkey burger with spinach on a whole wheat bun is the perfect meal for restful sleep. You can thank the tryptophan in turkey for that. Tryptophan not only affects melatonin, but it also creates serotonin, which helps to stabilize sleep. The iron in spinach is also known to help relieve the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome. For Dr. Oz-approved turkey recipes, click here.
Cheese and Crackers
Cheese and 100% whole grain crackers are your best bedtime-snack bet. The whole grains help produce serotonin. Cheese, like other dairy products, contains tryptophan. Together, they make for a winning combination.
Relax before bed with a sunflower seed snack. Full of the amino acid tryptophan, sunflower seeds can help you manage stress and will stimulate the chemicals in your brain that get you to doze off. Click here to learn more about the power of seeds.