By Jen Scheinman
If you’ve been following along with our post’s this month you now know how vital sleep is to your health. It affects everything from weight to cognition.
Sleep is so important that we at Simply Nourished like to call it Vitamin S!
Last week we gave you our top ten tips for getting some ZZZ’s and this week we will reveal our favorite foods that are full of the sleep promoting nutrients your body needs for a restful night sleep.
POULTRY + MEAT + FISH: You may be familiar with the sleep promoting properties of turkey from your Thanksgiving dinner, but all protein rich foods are full of the sleepy time amino acid tryptophan. What makes tryptophan so important to sleep? Well, it’s used in the body to create serotonin and ultimately melatonin, a hormone that makes you sleepy and is a key player in your circadian rhythm (your body’s natural sleep/wake cycle).
PUMPKIN SEEDS: A lot of sleep promoting nutrients are packed into these tiny seeds. Not only are they a good plant-based source of tryptophan, but they are an excellent source of magnesium, a sleep promoting mineral. Magnesium plays a role in many of your brain’s neurotransmitters. It helps convert tryptophan into secretin and is essential for GABA activity (a neurotransmitter that plays a role in anxiety, stress, and mood).
SALMON + OTHER FATTY FISH: Fatty fish such as salmon, are a powerhouse of sleep promoting nutrients. Salmon provides you with that essential amino acid tryptophan, but is also a great source of Vitamin D, another key nutrient in sleep. Vitamin D may play a role both in sleep quality and quantity, and studies indicated that a deficiency in vitamin D is associated with poor sleep. Salmon is also known for its high level of those health promoting omega-3 fatty acids. We already know those fats are good for our heart, and help fight inflammation. Well, guess what? People that consume high levels of fatty fish report better quality sleep as well.
CHAMOMILE TEA: This herbal tea has been used as a sleep aid for centuries. Chamomile may help sleepiness by suppressing the central nervous system and providing a sedative-like effect. Try brewing a cup before bed as part of your bedtime routine and enjoy the calming effects as you wind down your day.
TART CHERRY JUICE: This may be a surprising addition to our list of sleepy time foods, but researchers from the Behavioral Sleep Medicine program at the University of Pennsylvania found that those who drank tart cherry juice twice a day (once in the morning and once 1-2 hours before bed) reported better quality sleep than those who drank a placebo.
CARBOHYDRATE RICH FOODS: Studies have shown that eating a foods rich in carbohydrates a few hours before bed may help you fall asleep faster. According to the Sleep Foundation, carbohydrates make tryptophan more available to the brain, which may help improve your sleep.
While these foods are rich in nutrients to help promote sleep, for some who struggle with sleep supplements may be of some help too. Next week we’ll dive into supplements and other products that help us fall asleep and stay asleep.
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A Jerte valley cherry product provides beneficial effects on sleep quality. Influence on aging. Garrido M, González-Gómez D, Lozano M, Barriga C, Paredes SD, Rodríguez AB. J Nutr Health Aging. 2013;17(6):553-60. doi: 10.1007/s12603-013-0029-4.
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Dietary fish intake and sleep quality: a population-based study. Del Brutto OH, Mera RM, Ha JE, Gillman J, Zambrano M, Castillo PR. Sleep Med. 2016 Jan;17:126-8. doi: 10.1016/j.sleep.2015.09.021
High-glycemic-index carbohydrate meals shorten sleep onset. Afaghi A, O’Connor H, Chow CM. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Feb;85(2):426-30. Erratum in: Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Sep;86(3):809.
The Sleep Foundation: