Many adults today suffer insomnia. If not that, they rarely have a restful night’s sleep. They are usually restless, cannot seem to find a comfortable position to sleep in, and are easily distracted by odd sounds that are common at night. There are also people who get enough hours of sleep, and yet they wake up tired, sluggish, and wanting to crawl under the covers again.
The usual solutions are to get a prescription from a physician (for those who are diagnosed to be insomniacs), and to change the bed for a moderately softer mattress—preferably, ones stuffed with memory foam. Pillows that are too soft or too hard are also seen as culprits, and are sometimes replaced with ergonomic pillows.
There can be other reasons for poor sleep quality too, and one of them is bad diet. Yes, the kinds of food you consume in the day can actually affect the quality of your sleep later in the evening. We don’t just mean coffee, although for starters, you might want to lay off the caffeine (coffee, chocolate, soft drinks) at least six hours before bedtime.
So, what kinds of food can improve sleep quality?
Countless studies have been conducted about obesity and its connection with sleep deprivation. By observing numerous subjects, it has been found that the more body mass a person has, the more difficulty there is in sleeping. It takes obese people a longer time to fall asleep. They feel uncomfortable lying in one position much sooner, causing restlessness and frequent tossing and turning, resulting in disrupted sleep.
A low-fat diet will keep obesity at bay, and help people sleep better.
Natural Sources of Melatonin
Melatonin is a neurohormone that acts as an anti-oxidant. Its main food source is cherries, making cherry juice and extracts the preferred ingredient in many beauty products. Cherries contain the amino acid tryptophan, which is converted into serotonin and later into melatonin in the body. Melatonin is the natural substance found to be an excellent alternative to sleeping pills. This hormone is sleep-inducing, and is supposedly triggered by darkness. It functions as an internal clock, letting the body rest and sleep for long hours.
Drinking tart cherry juice in the day and before going to sleep at night is a natural remedy for insomnia. Studies show that individuals who drank two ounces of tart cherry juice daily managed 25 extra minutes of sleep.
Melatonin is also found infish, almonds, strawberries, raspberries, grapes, and also certain crops like wheat, rice and oats.
Calcium and Magnesium-Rich Food
Not many people are aware that food rich in calcium and magnesium can actually improve one’s sleeping habits. Remember that as kids, our parents would bring us a glass of milk just before bedtime? The main reason for that is calcium and magnesium promotes bone growth, and this regeneration effect is more efficient when we are asleep. It’s also obvious that children tend to sleep more soundly when they drink warm milk before going to sleep.
Now we have scientific proof to back that up. Studies show that when calcium level is normal, REM sleep is reached more quickly. When calcium levels go down, REM sleep easily gets disturbed. Calcium is also an important ingredient in manufacturing melatonin. Magnesium becomes necessary because it is needed for the proper absorption of calcium.
Examples of food rich in calcium and magnesium are salmon, milk, yogurt, kale, turnip greens, nuts, rice, potatoes, oranges, and whole grains.
Vitamin B6 Sources
If you get mildly hungry between meal times, don’t immediately reach for that bag of chips. It’s full of preservatives, not to mention it has high sodium content. Choose healthier snack options like a banana, peanuts, cashews, and cereal.
Another reason why you should rather snack on them is because they are rich in Vitamin B6, which is helpful. Vitamin B6 in itself doesn’t do anything for sleep improvement, but it is another important ingredient for creating melatonin. Hence, eating the above examples, as well as backed potatoes, broccoli, asparagus, chickpeas, lentils, sunflower seeds, halibut, chicken and turkey, can help improve quality of sleep.
Many of the food suggestions above are packed with carbs. Carbohydrates, when eaten at the right time, can actually help you get a good night’s sleep. It the body’s main source of energy, yes. It increases the blood sugar level, which in turn provokes the body to produce insulin to regulate blood sugar. It’s because of the insulin that the body gets a burst of energy minutes after eating carbohydrates-rich food. Afterwards though, when both insulin and blood sugar pan down, you’ll feel sleepy and tired.
You can therefore eat some toast probably 30 minutes before going to bed so that when your body crashes from the energy high, it’ll happen when you need it the most.
The author Adana Baro is a professional blogger and loves writing about nutrition, health, fitness, and beauty. Currently, she writes blogs and guest blogs for Pender Medi Spa. The medical spa specializes in skincare Juvederm and Botox treatments in Vancouver.