Sleep inducing foods

Published December 4, 2014

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Did you know that you may be able to eat your way to better sleep? Some foods have calming and soothing effects that when consumed at night, may make it easier for you to relax, preparing your body for quality rest. Here are some of the top sleep‐inducing foods:

  1. Milk – Milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid (building block of protein), which plays a role in relaxation and sleep. To help you unwind, try consuming a warm glass of milk, but for best results pair it with a small amount of carbohydrate such as a wholegrain cracker, as this makes tryptophan more available to the brain.1 Drinking warm milk before bedtime may also induce pleasant memories of your childhood.
  2. Turkey – Similar to milk, turkey is also a good source of tryptophan and may promote sleepiness.2 Combine with a carbohydrate snack to aid delivery to the brain.
  3. Cherries – Researchers have found that tart cherry juice has modest beneficial effects on insomnia in older adults.3 Tart cherries are especially high in melatonin, a brain chemical with sleep‐regulating properties.3
  4. Lettuce – Interestingly, lettuce has relaxing and sleep‐inducing effects. This is believed to be due to the white fluid you see when you break or cut lettuce, which is called lactucarium.4
  5. Almonds – Research shows that even a marginal lack of the mineral magnesium can affect the ability to settle at night time.5 Almonds are naturally rich in magnesium as are pumpkin seeds and green leafy vegetables.5
  6. Popcorn – This movie favourite may actually help generate sleep,2 which might have something to do with increasing the delivery of tryptophan to the brain.
  7. Dark chocolate – Chocolate is a natural source of serotonin, the ‘feel‐good’ hormone. It also contains tryptophan which converts into serotonin in the body. The higher the cocoa content of chocolate, the higher the serotonin amount.6 Try a square or two of dark chocolate with around 85% cocoa before bed to help you relax. Resist the temptation to consume more as it’s also a source of caffeine, which may keep you awake.
  8. ChamomileChamomile tea has a soothing effect on the body and is traditionally used as a sleep remedy.

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