Foods that promote sleep
It's now known that there are certain foods that promote sleep. These are tryptophan-containing foods, because tryptophan is the amino acid that the body uses to make serotonin, the neurotransmitter that slows down nerve traffic so your brain isn't so busy. Foods that promote sleep do so mainly because of simple carbohydrates and simple sugars which trigger the output of insulin and it's this physiological response that brings about a sleepy mindset and post-meal siesta.
Why should I be aware of this?
Good sleep is imperative for general functioning and overall emotional stability. Foods that promote sleep are natural ways of curing insomnia.
All about foods that promote sleep
Carbohydrates when consumed with tryptophan-containing foods stimulate the release of insulin. When insulin is released it helps clear those amino acids from the bloodstream which compete with tryptophan, allowing more of this natural sleep-inducing amino acid to enter the brain and manufacture sleep- inducing substances, such as serotonin and melatonin.
Eating a high-protein meal without accompanying carbohydrates may keep you awake, since protein-rich foods also contain the amino acid, tyrosine, which perks up the brain.
For dinner and bedtime snacks, eat a meal or snack that is high in complex carbohydrates, with a small amount of protein that contains just enough tryptophan to relax the brain. An all- carbohydrate snack, especially one high in junk sugars, makes you miss out on the sleep-inducing effects of tryptophan.
The best bedtime snack is one that has both complex carbohydrates and protein, and perhaps some calcium. Calcium helps the brain use the tryptophan to manufacture melatonin. This explains why dairy products, which contain both tryptophan and calcium, are one of the top sleep-inducing foods.
What can I do?
Good choices for a healthy sleep include scrambled eggs and cheese. Hummus and Tuna fish sandwiches are a great food for falling asleep shortly after eating, as are meats, poultry, seafood, pasta, and nuts. Spaghetti, with tomato sauce or lasagna, also induces sleep. However, use minimum garlic and heavy spices.
Best dinners for sleep
The following can help promote sleep:
- pasta with parmesan cheese
- scrambled eggs and cheese
- tofu stirfry
- hummus with whole wheat pita bread
- seafood, pasta, and cottage cheese
- meats and poultry with veggies
- tuna salad sandwich
- chili with beans, not spicy
- sesame seeds (rich in tryptophan) sprinkled on salad with tuna chunks, and whole wheat crackers
Lighter meals are more conducive to a restful night's sleep. For some, highly-seasoned foods (e.g., hot peppers and garlic) interfere with sleep, especially if you suffer from heartburn.
It is equally important to avoid certain food if you're having trouble sleeping. Caffeinated beverages are a big cause for sleeplessness. Coffee should not only be taken in moderation but avoided after lunch. Tea can also contain caffeine, so try out some of the herbal brands. Otherwise, stick to one of the options with less caffeine, such as green tea. Power and energy drinks, as well as highly caffeinated sodas should be avoided as well.
Although many people believe that eating at night will keep you awake, recent science says that eating certain foods before bed can actually help you enjoy better sleep!