Try THIS and See If a Good Night’s Sleep Isn’t More Than a Dream!

What with all the turmoil in the world, I’ve been hearing from more and more folks who are having a difficult time sleeping lately. The good news is, there are some things we can do (from the kitchen) that will actually help us get more sleep and better sleep.

Research shows that what we eat plays a critical role in just how soundly we rest every night. Thank goodness there are many delicious, nutritious, and natural foods that can promote good sleep. These foods have snooze-boosting natural iterations of melatonin, magnesium, and tryptophan built in.

Some of the best sleep-facilitating foods are:

NUTS AND SEEDS. Almonds, cashews, pistachios, and walnuts are top choices. Top choices because besides being very healthy for bone, brain, heart, and muscle health (due to the high magnesium load they carry), they provide natural sources of melatonin, as well as the amino acid tryptophan.

We’ve all experienced the effects of tryptophan—that magical compound in turkey that makes us so sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner. This crucial compound plays an important part in the production of serotonin and melatonin. Other great sources of tryptophan are flax, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds.

DAIRY AND MILK. Drinking warm milk, snacking on plain yogurt, or eating cottage cheese are other good options that support sleep. This is because they also contain tryptophan.

FRUIT. Bananas, especially, are good sleep-promoters. Besides their high level of potassium, they too, contain solid amounts of magnesium and tryptophan. Kiwi fruit, which contains lots of antioxidants and vitamins (especially folate) is another excellent choice. And you can't go wrong with tart cherries or cherry juice, both of which are natural sources of melatonin and may lead to improved sleep duration and quality.

On the other hand, there are certain foods and beverages that should be avoided if you're hoping to improve sleep quality. For instance, you want to stay away from:

PROCESSED FOODS, especially those that contain high amounts of carbs and sugar. These are activating and inflammatory. The best rule of thumb: Avoid anything that comes in a package and has more than five or so ingredients. Chances are sure it's likely processed and contains not just sugar but all sorts of mystery ingredients as well.

GREASY AND SPICY FOODS. These cause bloating and indigestion, making it harder for sleep to take hold. They’re hard to digest and will keep your digestion system working overtime, which translates to fitful sleep at best.

Then there’s timing. It matters when you stop eating for the day. If you're eating foods with the end goal of a good night's rest, finish snacking at least three to four hours before you plan to go to bed.

And though it seems counter-intuitive, always avoid alcohol before bed. Research shows that while alcohol ingestion seems to relax and calm you down, it actually impacts the rest and repair that quality sleep provides.

Finally, you should create an intentional wind-down strategy before going to be. And this advice takes us full circle back to those foods that help promote good sleep. Sleep scientists suggest a few hours before bed, consider having a banana, a small handful of almonds or walnuts, and maybe a warm glass of milk.

Here’s my suggestion: Consider blending your banana, nuts, and warm milk into what I call a bedtime cocktail. Try this and see if a good night’s sleep isn’t more than a dream!


  •     Alice Osborne
        Weekly Newsletter Contributor since 2006
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