Better Sleep Through Food
Foods that help us relax or sleep are also known as comfort foods. They calm us down and make us feel better equipped to deal with day to day life or simply wind down after a long day. Want to relax after a tiring day? Want to go to bed and fall asleep easily instead of staring at the ceiling and counting sheep? Find out which foods help us sleep better and increase there intake in your meals.
Foods that Help us Sleep
Milk: How many times have we heard the antidote of drinking warm milk for better sleep? That is because milk contains tryptophan, and produces serotonin and melatonin that creates a feeling of calm and sleepiness. It is important to note that the effect of warm milk is not universal. For some people it works wonders, for others, there’s no effect at all.
Honey: Honey is tryptophan rich. Mixing honey in milk increases the level of tryptophan in our blood and helps us fall asleep easily.
Carbohydrates rich foods: Eating foods that are rich in carbohydrates along with tryptophan rich foods makes the amino acid more readily available to our brain. Eating foods with carbs releases insulin in our blood stream that fights and immunizes the effects of tyrosine, an amino acid that increases brain activity, letting us fall asleep easily.
Foods high in carbohydrates include, cakes, dates, ice cream, chocolate, potatoes, jam, and spaghetti.
Rice: Rice is melatonin (produced by tryptophan) rich which is a natural sleeping aid. It also has starchy carbohydrates that make the tryptophan more effective. Feelings of drowsiness are common after having rice in a meal.
Others: Poultry, bananas, oats, and peanuts are foods that help sleep. Cheddar and swiss cheese are also particularly rich in tryptophan. Chamomile tea has also been known to help.
Precautions & Additional Tips
While these foods help us sleep better, they are by no means guaranteed to work. Every individual has a different reaction to the foods. Milk, for example, doesn’t make everyone drowsy. Instead, reading a book before bedtime could work the wonders that warm milk didn’t.
It is also better to combine carbohydrates rich foods with foods that have medium or low proteins in them. The effect of rice on our sleep is best when it is taken four hours before our bed time. Sleep is best when a light meal is eaten during dinner. Eating too heavy a dinner or too late, makes the digestive system work hard and if you go to bed soon afterwards, it will also slow down the digestive process.
Quality of sleep is an indication towards our quality of life. Most sleep problems are caused by stress. If you feel that your sleep problems are related to mental or physical stress, don’t hesitate to seek medical help. A person’s sleep is precious and should never be compromised on.
This post is part of the series: Diet: The Sleep Connection
Our diet and quality of sleep are connected to each other. Just as some foods contribute to our lack of sleep, some foods encourage sleep. It’s why we don’t give foods high in sugar to our kids before their bed time. Find out which foods are harming your sleep and which ones are helping it.