Looking For A Better Night’s Sleep? Try These Sleep Inducing Foods
We all know that getting a decent amount of high-quality sleep is important for our overall health and well-being. However, just wanting better sleep doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going to get it – it can have the opposite effect.
There are lots of different strategies that you can use to promote better sleep, but one of the simplest ways to experiment with the foods that have been associated with promoting better sleep. Take a look at the list below and see which you might give a whirl.
Any foods that contain tryptophan are recommended if you want to improve the quality of your sleep, and indeed, your ability to fall asleep more easily. Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps trigger the release of melatonin, the hormone that encourages sleep, in your body. Many protein-rich foods such as chicken, dairy products, nuts and seeds contain tryptophan.
A Nutty Snack
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After dinner, if you feel like snacking, choose a handful of walnuts as these are a good source of tryptophan. The melatonin that’s produced from ingesting tryptophan dictates your sleep cycles, while serotonin is also released, meaning you’ll have an improved sense of well-being, which may well make it easier to nod off.
A Nice Bowl of Rice
Any food that has a high glycemic index will lead to an increase in insulin and blood sugar levels, which will have a knock-on effect of making you fall asleep more easily. It’s for this reason that foods with high glycemic index, such as corn chips or pretzels, are not advisable choices for middle of the day snacks. On the other hand, consuming rice, another food with a high glycemic index, at dinner raises blood sugar and insulin which triggers the release of tryptophan and encourages sleep. What better excuse do you need for getting some Chinese takeaway rice dishes with a couple of rice dishes to send you off to the land of nod?
Lettuce is said to have a sedative effect because of the presence of lactucarium and can have similar effects on the brain as opium does. Remember those Beatrix Potter stories? In the Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies, six baby rabbits eat too many lettuces in Mr McGregor’s rubbish heap and fall asleep, which means they get captured and placed in a sack. Of course, everything turns out well for them and they’re freed by the end of the story, but maybe Beatrix Potter knew a little about lactucarium.
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An alternative to eating salad is to make a hot lettuce drink instead. Sound strange? Well, depending on how sleep-deprived you are, it may be worth trying. Simmer lettuce leaves in water on the stove for 15 minutes, adding mint for flavour, and drink a cup of your minty lettuce brew before you go to bed.
Hot Milk, or Cheese and Crackers
The classic childhood night-time drink is warm milk and it’s not just kids that a hot milk drink can work its magic on. Again it’s the presence of tryptophan in the serotonin release, but combined with the calcium in milk, your muscle movements will also be better regulated, allowing your body to relax. If you’re not a fan of milky drinks, consider eating some cheese and crackers instead – all dairy products lead to similar results. Forget the old wives’ tale about cheese giving you nightmares – in a study by the British Cheese Board, 75% of participants whose sleep was analysed after eating cheese said they slept soundly. And while they didn’t have nightmares, there was some evidence that dreams seemed more vivid than on non-cheese nights.
Sleep’s a precious commodity in our always “on” world. As well as changing your food intake, make sure to employ strategies such as early switching off of electronic devices and doing some relaxation exercises before you go to bed. Hopefully, a combination of these efforts will lead to an improved sleep regime.