Have you been having trouble sleeping? If it's any consolation, you're not alone – in fact, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, more than 40 million Americans suffer from various sleep-related disorders. Believe it or not, the answer to your sleep issues just might be found on your dinner plate! Consider adding these foods to your diet in order to increase your chances of getting some quality shuteye.
There's a reason why Thanksgiving dinner can bring on such a vicious urge to nap. Turkey is rich in an amino acid known as L-tryptophan (simply called "tryptophan"), which is required by the body to produce serotonin, an important neurotransmitter that is used to create the sleep-regulating hormone known as melatonin. Try eating a thin slice or two of turkey breast (perhaps with a slice of cheese) about a half-hour before bedtime, and let that tryptophan go to work.
Often called nature's perfect food, honey contains natural sugars that raise the body's insulin levels without spiking them, and this enables tryptophan to enter into the brain more easily. Try eating a teaspoonful before bed, either by itself or mixed into a cup of chamomile tea, in order to put your body into a more relaxed state.
Fish – particularly tuna, salmon and halibut – is an excellent food source to help you get more shuteye. This is due to the fact that our seafaring friends are rich in Vitamin B6, a nutrient that is required to produce sleep-inducing melatonin.
Aside from being an all-around nutrient superstar, almonds can boost your body's ability to get better sleep as well. This is because almonds contain high levels of magnesium, a mineral that is well-known for its ability to stave off symptoms of insomnia.
5. Jasmine Rice
Jasmine rice has a high glycemic index, which means that it will trigger higher levels of insulin when consumed. This in turn increases the ratio of tryptophan in the bloodstream, allowing more of this sleep-inducing natural chemical to enter the brain. By eating a meal that contains jasmine rice close to bedtime, you're setting yourself up for some high quality slumber.
6. Cherry Juice
According to researchers at the Universities of Rochester and Pennsylvania, drinking a glass of cherry juice – not the sugary kind, but the tart stuff – can naturally increase the body's levels of melatonin. The joint study reported that subjects who consumed cherry juice experienced fewer symptoms of insomnia than those who consumed a placebo beverage.
7. Chamomile Tea
If you're looking for relaxation in a cup, look no further than chamomile tea. This natural wonder is rich in an organic chemical known as glycine, which relaxes the muscles and nerves and produces a mild sedative-like effect. Try drinking a warm cup of chamomile tea before bed to prepare your body to transition into a restful sleep.
Hummus is made from chickpeas, which are naturally rich in tryptophan. Try snacking on hummus dip with whole-grain or flaxseed crackers to give your body a good dose of this natural sleep enhancer.
9. Dairy Products
There's quite a bit of truth to that old wives' tale about drinking a warm glass of milk to go to sleep at night. Dairy products in general (e.g., yogurt, cheese, milk, etc.) are high in calcium, which aids the brain in using tryptophan to create melatonin.
This leafy green superfood is rich in calcium as well, so be sure to add it to your diet in order to help your body manufacture melatonin for better sleep.
If you've been struggling with symptoms of insomnia, try incorporating the foods listed above into your diet. Here's to getting a good night's sleep!