If getting more sleep is one of your New Year’s resolutions, there are plenty of health-related reasons to keep you motivated as you work toward your goal.
Getting less than seven hours of sleep per day is associated with an increased risk of developing chronic conditions such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and poor mental health.
If you can consistently nab seven or more hours of restful sleep a night, there are many positive health benefits to reap, such as reduced stress, improved mood, and a reduced risk of heart disease.
Eating for Better Sleep
There are many things that you can do to promote quality sleep. You might already be practicing good sleep hygiene by limiting your screen time before bed (especially if the screen emits blue light), making sure that your room is dark and cool when it is time for bed, or even trying out trendy sleep-coaching apps.
You might not know that what you eat and drink during the day can also affect your sleep—both positively and negatively. If you aren’t getting good sleep, looking at your diet might give you clues as to why. Even if you’re already sleeping well, adding certain foods or drinks to your diet could make your sleep even better.
While some foods and beverages can interfere with a good night’s rest (like caffeinated drinks, spicy food, and large amounts of alcohol), some can actually help your sleep.
Here are seven foods and drinks that might help you in your quest for a restful slumber.
There might be something to the old-school recommendation of enjoying a warm cup of milk before bedtime. The protein in milk provides a source of tryptophan. In large amounts, tryptophan can produce a calming effect that may help you fall asleep. If you are already eating foods that contain tryptophan (like turkey), topping your day off with a warm mug of milk can give you an extra boost.
Another benefit of dairy foods like milk, yogurt, or cheese is that they can help you feel satisfied longer between meals because of their protein content. This means that you won’t go to bed hungry.
With the combination of protein, tryptophan, and the soothing effect of a warm beverage, milk can help you relax and get in the right frame of mind for dreamland.
Walnuts are a great nighttime snack because they contain melatonin, an important plant compound related to maintaining a healthy sleep cycle.
The natural magnesium found in these little nuts can help you get some shut-eye too. Since this mineral binds to a neurotransmitter responsible for calming nerve activity, having a more quiet nervous system can help you on your quest to get some rest.
If you have depression, you might have trouble falling or staying asleep. Research has shown that people who regularly eat nuts like walnuts have lower depression scores compared to non-nut consumers.
A fuzzy kiwifruit can give you a bedtime boost. In one study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who ate two kiwifruits one hour before bedtime fell asleep 35% faster than night’s they didn’t have a kiwi snack.
Kiwifruit naturally contains serotonin a chemical that plays a role in sleep cycle regulation.
While it’s often thought of as a meal to help keep people focused and full of energy during their busy days, research has also linked eating a nourishing breakfast with better-perceived sleep quality and sleep onset.
To get the full benefits of “the most important meal of the day,” choose breakfast foods that are nutritious and free from added sugars and trans-fats.
Tofu and other soy-based foods are rich in flavonoids called isoflavones. According to one study conducted on Japanese subjects, a higher daily isoflavone intake has been positively associated with optimal sleep duration and quality.
Having a tofu stir fry for dinner or a bedtime snack of edamame might help you get a head start on a good night’s rest.
Nothing is quite as soothing as sipping on a warm mug of chamomile tea. Known for its sleep-supporting qualities, the tea is a popular remedy among people who have a hard time falling asleep.
While any cup of tea can be a calming end to your day, chamomile tea is unique because it contains an antioxidant called apigenin that has been shown to promote sleepiness in some people.
Chamomile Tea When You’re Pregnant
If you pregnant and in your first trimester, talk to your healthcare provider before pouring yourself a cup of chamomile tea before bed. Large quantities have been linked to an increased risk of uterine contractions.
Tart Cherry Juice
Tart cherries are, as the name implies, a bit more tart than what you expect from a classic cherry. While they’re not always found on the grocery store shelves, they are delicious and chock-full of nutrients.
Noshing on tart cherries or drinking tart cherry juice as a sleep remedy has been used for many years. Tart cherry juice can naturally raise your body’s melatonin levels. One study showed that drinking tart cherry juice can increase sleep time and sleep efficiency.