Food over supplements! Yes, when it comes to healing your body from sickness, food always scores over supplements and if you are having trouble putting yourself to sleep each night, then food for better sleep is the answer to all your sleep problems. The right foods and the right sleep habits will have you sleep like a baby and you’ll wake up refreshed ready for a hectic day.
Okay, supplements are not always the bad guys in the story that they are sometimes made out to be. Sometimes you need them to fill up the nutritional gaps. Smart supplementation always helps. Just be strategic about it and avoid a lifetime of deficiencies. All in all, food is more bio-available to our bodies, as our bodies identify the nutrients and facilitate the absorption process. Let’s get it straight, our bodies absorbs nutrients from foods better.
So, if you are downing supplements by the number; just know that your body, read cells and gut bacteria, respond better to food than any fancy supplement. So, should you trust nutrients or supplements to get a good night’s sleep? We say you pair both to get optimum results. Let us start with nutrients first, as nutrition and sleep are closely linked and add the same in the form of food and supplements for good sleep.
We all know what a good amount of sleep does to our body and health. When we sleep better, we function better, combat diseases better and also tend to lose weight better. Wow! So many benefits, yet we don’t give sleep the importance it deserves. Before we dole out nutritional advice on getting good sleep piggybacking on nutrition, remember that going gadget-free two hours before sleep helps! Try it, it worked miraculously with me. In fact, there are people who gradually wind down post-sunset, signaling your body, that it is time to sleep. While this may not be possible for everyone, the two-hour deal is pretty doable. How about trying it? Okay, let’s back to the nutrition food bit and how you can add the right ones for good sleep.
Top Nutrients to Add for Better Sleep Quality – Best Nutrition Food
Are you having enough of the following nutrients? Take a look at them and incorporate the same to your diet plan.
Selenium has a big role to play in sleep and sleep-related problems. Any deficiency can cause your immune system to slump, and also impairs your thyroid gland. Of course, there are great easily-available food sources and we need to add enough of them to avoid a deficiency. Brazil nuts are a particularly great source, then there are sunflower seeds, oysters, chicken, beef, and cremini mushroom.
Research substantiates that people with low blood levels of vitamin C suffer from sleep issues and have a habit of getting up at night as they sleep fitfully.
There are excellent sources of vitamin C and you should eat foods such as amla berry, and acerola cherry, kiwi fruit, bell peppers, green leafy vegetables, strawberries, citrus fruits, and papaya to replenish your vitamin C reserves.
This is one very important nutrient as it helps in serotonin production. You’ll find tryptophan in turkey, chicken, sweet potatoes, eggs, chia seeds, hemp seeds, bananas, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and yogurt.
The latest journal on sleep has found out that potassium enables restful sleep. Bananas are often touted as one of the best potassium sources, but bananas are not the only sources of potassium, there are other sources too such as leafy greens, dulse, potatoes, cremini mushrooms, broccoli, and guacamole.
A deficiency of calcium can often lead to disturbances in REM sleep. But worry not, as there are many bioavailable sources of calcium, such as milk and milk products, collard greens, kale, sardines, mustard greens, sea veggies, and sesame seeds.
Experiencing excessive daytime sleepiness? The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine finds a deep correlation between vitamin D deficiency and daytime sleepiness. You will have to get your vitamin D levels checked to find out whether you are suffering from a deficiency. You can add vitamin D supplementation if you are suffering from a deficiency, provided it is prescribed by your doctor.
Don’t worry, there are terrific vitamin D food sources too, such as salmon, swordfish, tuna, oysters, mackerel, and shiitake mushrooms. But, I forgot to mention one important thing, the greatest source of vitamin D is sunlight. So, make sure you soak in enough vitamin D at least 15 to 20 minutes a day. If you aren’t able to get optimum exposure to sunlight, you can think of supplementation.
Omega- 3’s are another nutrient source that can help you sink into blissful oblivion for those eight hours.
Get your dose of optimum omega-3s from flax seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, halibut, walnuts, and salmon.
If you have been recently hearing a lot about Melatonin, well, it is also known as the sleep hormone. You can find melatonin from food sources too, which will help you optimize your melatonin levels. What are the best sources of melatonin?
Tart cherries are among the best sources of melatonin, and walnuts are a small source too. Also, there are other sources such as pineapples and oranges.
This is another essential nutrient that modulates your body’s stress response and calms down your nervous system.
You can get your dose of vitamin B6 from yogurt, bananas, peanut butter, cashews, and avocados. Almonds, tomatoes, fish, sweet potatoes, spinach, sea veggies, and eggs should be added to your diet too. Get the best out of nutrients is by consuming organic and whole foods. Real foods provide a whole lot of nutrients. The great thing about eating real foods is that you’ll get a whole host of other nutrients and in a bio-available form.
Women who sleep better also have a greater chance of hitting their weight-loss goals. So, if you are planning to lose weight, or just have a good night’s sleep to feel refreshed in the morning. Check out the following foods for optimum sleep nutrition.
Best Foods to Eat Before Bed
You know all about the nutrients, now add the right foods to your diet to reap the maximum benefits!
Looking for a perfect pre-bed snack? Well, this green fruit is pure love. Studies show that having it an hour before bedtime can help you sleep an hour more. It has got to do with its rich nutrients. That’s right, kiwis are full of serotonin, folate, and vitamins C and E, all of which will help you to enjoy quality sleep.
It is said that isoflavones help you sleep more. That is why foods rich in isoflavones should be on your grocery list. Foods such as tofu, miso, and edamame, are full of isoflavones. These compounds up the serotonin production in the body. Serotonin is a brain chemical that impacts your body’s sleep-wake cycle. A 2015 Nutrition Journal study showed that a generous serving of soy, (that is 2 or 3 servings) enabled you to sleep better.
Fish is rich in the vitamin B6 and there are fish such as salmon, halibut and tuna, which are rich in this valuable nutrient. B6 helps trigger off the formation of melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone) in your body as we have mentioned before, so ensure you add liberal doses of it into your diet.
Tart cherry juice has the highest quantity of melatonin and is said to aid sleep. Adults need at least two or three cuppas a day to treat chronic insomnia.
Ever had turmeric-laced milk at night and enjoyed a good night’s sleep? Yes, dairy products are particularly effective in inducing deep sleep. Some of the options are yogurt and milk. They contain generous amounts of calcium. Research also substantiates that a calcium deficiency can result in sleeping problems.
Some people go very low-carb on their diets and this prevents them from sleeping well. Whole-grains contain important minerals such as magnesium which is essential in quality sleep. However, if you are trying to lose weight, include smart carbs such as Bulgur, barley, and other whole grains. These grains will provide you with the essential nutrients and also won’t act as a barrier in your weight loss goals.
The mention of a healthy nutritious food list is never complete without the addition of kale in it. It tops the list of green-leafy veggies that are rich in calcium. If you are avoiding dairy for a reason, then kale should be your go-to for healthy doses of calcium.
I adore sweet potato fries. Not only is it plain delicious but it is also has a combination of nutrients that will beckon sleep in a jiffy. Yes, sweet potatoes are a solid source of potassium, magnesium, and calcium. This terrific trio satiates your taste buds and says ‘come hither’ to relaxation and sleep! Baked Sweet potatoes with a drizzle of honey, a dash of Himalayan pink salt and a tablespoon of nut butter will kill cravings and ensure a peaceful time under the sheets.
An under-appreciated nut which has a zillion benefits to speak for itself but sadly kind of gets overshadowed by the collective aura of almonds, walnuts, and peanuts; show some love to this nut as it is a multi-faceted gem. It packs in sleep-friendly nutrients such as protein, vitamin B6, and magnesium. When it comes to nuts, less is more, so stick to an ounce. It is dense in calories so keep a tight rein on your cravings.
Almond or peanut butter; which one is your favorite? I have a thing for peanut butter. They add the right crunch to my smoothies, the right texture to my ice-creams and keep my hunger pangs in control. Also, it is so versatile: you can have it with your fruit, with your whole wheat crackers and smear it on your rye toast and say au revoir to hunger! It is packed with protein and hence so filling. Much as you like it, don’t extend the butter to more than a tablespoon, however much you like to steal extra spoonfuls in the middle of the night!
No surprises there, as herbal teas have great health-boosting qualities. Add to that, it can induce a snooze-fest. Chamomile tea is particularly effective in calming nerves right before bedtime. It hydrates you and soothes your stomach lining. If you do not have chamomile tea with you, you can also try ginger tea.
Almonds are another superfood that promise a lot and deliver too, sleep among other things. Just a handful and you will be transported to sleep land. Almonds are full of tryptophan and magnesium, which aid in nerve and muscle function and also steady your heart rhythm.
There is something about chocolate that makes everyone go all heart-eyes. But they are just too sweet, right? Wrong, if you choose the right one, you needn’t worry about the health factor of it. In fact, your health will thank you. Dark chocolate contains serotonin, which has a relaxing effect on your body and mind. They are also full of antioxidants, so a few pieces a day will keep the doctor away! Sorry, Apple!
The tryptophan and melatonin-rich milk is your bae when it comes to quality sleep. Remember when you were a kid your mother used to force-feed you a glass of milk at night? Well, now that you are an adult nothing has changed, as you still have to drink milk to induce sleep. And it still works wonders. Lace it with turmeric, a spoonful of raw honey and a little bit of black pepper and you have one of the best foods to have before bed.
I think this list of food for better sleep is a comprehensive one. But I may be wrong. Do you have a better list than mine? Then do share with me, I would love to add it during those sleepless nights when work, browsing on social media and the wrong foods manage to cause a rift between me and sleep!
Devi Gajendran is a Post Graduate in Nutrition (University of Madras, Tamil Nadu) and has tons of experience in Fitness and Nutrition. She is the chief advisor and full time contributor at the Fit Indian and has the final say on all the segments under the Fit Indian paradigm, such as beauty, fitness, home remedies, diseases, diet tips, weight loss, weight gain and so on. A foodie herself, she believes in the Hippocrates quote,” Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” A fitness enthusiast, she believes that the combination of diet and exercise can work wonders. When she is not sharing her valuable knowledge about food and fitness, she likes to spend quality time with her family members, do some healthy baking and listen to soft soulful music.