Eating Healthy To Get A Good Night’s Sleep
Did you know that what you eat can negatively (or positively) affect how you sleep? Think about it…you ate dinner and then went to sleep hours later, only to have your sleep interrupted by tossing and turning, acid reflux, or other digestive issues. If you have an aging loved one who complains about not getting enough sleep or waking up constantly during the night, a bedtime snack rich in nutrients just might help.
Not only is a healthy diet important for helping reduce the risk of diseases and for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it can actually help you sleep better at night. These 5 types of foods can help seniors get a good night’s sleep:
1) Heart-Healthy Fats
It may not seem like it, but “good” fats, also known as unsaturated fats, can help you sleep better at night. It’s known that unsaturated fats greatly improve your “heart health” by increasing your HDL (good) cholesterol and lowering your LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. Additionally, cholesterol “plays a major role in regulating serotonin levels in the brain”. Serotonin is a natural mood stabilizer that helps you sleep.
Some of the best sources of heart-healthy fats include avocados and nuts such as cashews, pistachios, walnuts, and almonds. Almonds are not only a good source of good fats, but also magnesium, which supports muscle relaxation and sleep.
2) High/Lean Protein
We’ve all felt the lethargy that hits us after finishing off a plate of Thanksgiving dinner. The reason is that turkey is a lean protein that is high in tryptophan, an amino acid that increases serotonin levels in your brain and causes sleepiness. Foods that are high in protein not only promote sleep but reduce the risk of acid reflux which can cause difficulty sleeping.
If you’re having trouble sleeping try eating a rice cake with turkey, bananas, and peanut butter, or cheese and crackers. These food combinations work together to help encourage sleep.
3) Nutrient-Rich Fruits
Many but not all fruits are known to contain sleep-promoting minerals such as magnesium and potassium. Bananas are one of the best examples of a nutrient-rich fruit, containing magnesium, potassium, and tryptophan all of which help promote sleep by increasing melatonin and serotonin levels.
Cherries and/or cherry juice is another great example of a fruit that’s rich in nutrients. They contain antioxidants which are essential in supporting the immune system as well as your eyes, heart, mood, and memory. Cherries also include melatonin, which aids in inducing sleep.
Other fruits such as common figs, papayas, pineapples, and watermelon are high in magnesium, which is known to calm anxiety, help you fall asleep, and aid in digestion. So, if your elderly loved one is having trouble sleeping, offer him or her a bowl of fruit.
4) Warm Drinks
You may have heard the old saying, “if you can’t sleep, drink warm milk”. There actually may be something to this saying since dairy products contain tryptophan, which mentioned earlier, promotes sleep. These products also contain calcium which helps control melatonin, a hormone that helps to regulate sleep. Adding honey and nutmeg to your warm milk adds additional sleep aids to get you to sleep faster.
Caffeine-free herbal teas such as chamomile, valerian, or green tea are great sleep aids and known to promote relaxation and help induce sleep. Chamomile tea is an herbal remedy known for helping reduce anxiety, insomnia, and other health problems by acting as a mild sedative. Valerian root tea is another natural sedative with antioxidants that help to calm the nerves. Green tea is one of the oldest and most popular teas in the world. It contains theanine, an amino acid that helps lower stress and supports good sleep.
Check out this link that provides recipes for 3 natural drinks to help get better sleep: http://everydayroots.com/sleep-aid-drinks.
There’s usually a stigma associated with the word “carbohydrates”; but actually non-refined carbs (complex carbohydrates) contain fiber and natural sugars, both of which are essential for the body. Some sources of complex carbohydrates include fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, beans, seeds, nuts, and whole grains.
Popcorn, oatmeal, sweet potato, and jasmine rice are great examples of whole grains which help aid in digestion, metabolism, and of course, sleep. Oatmeal is one of the best bedtime snack foods because it includes an abundance of sleep-inducing nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and calcium.
The bottom line is…if you or a loved one is having trouble falling or staying asleep, try one of these food remedies. The answer to wandering off to dreamland just might be found in your own kitchen.