Disclaimer: This is a partner post from The Sleep Advisor.
Sleep, brilliant isn’t it?
Get enough of it and you feel like you can take on the world. Get too little and it can be an uphill struggle to get through the following day.
Thanks to countless studies we now know more than ever just how important a good night’s sleep is for our mental and physical health. Unfortunately just because we know more about it doesn’t mean we get more of it. In fact, as a society we have never slept less.
If you are one of the millions of individuals who suffer from a sleep-disorder the chances are you’ve tried any number of methods to wake up feeling energized. Anything from banning screens from your bedroom, cutting out caffeine after lunch to utilizing sleep aids like white noise generators.
But have you considered changing what you eat?
Below are five foods known to be active “sleep promoters.” That is, foods that have a proven somnambulant effect on those that consume them.
1. Cherry Juice
A growing body of evidence strongly indicates that drinking cherry juice daily has the potential to improve both the quantity and quality of your sleep.
The most recent study conducted by the University of Louisiana found that participants who consumed a glass of cherry juice before bed slept on average 84 minutes more a night than those in a placebo-based control group.
It is thought that cherry juice contains a variety of useful compounds that reduce the production of certain chemicals in the brain that generally lead to broken sleep.
Drinking the blood red juice also reduced levels of kynurenine found in the blood, an amino acid which has been linked to sleep deprivation.
Plus, the cherry on top—it tastes damn good.
Like their smaller friends the cherry, the humble kiwi has also been shown to be an active sleep promoter during a study conducted by Taiwan Taipei Medical University.
During the month-long trial the volunteers, all of whom suffered from pre-existing sleep conditions, were reported to have slept an average of 13 percent longer a night. The only difference being they chowed down on a couple of kiwis before bed.
And not only did the 24 participants in the study sleep longer each night, they also took less time to fall asleep after going to bed. A huge 34% reduction in fact.
It is not completely understood why kiwis have this sleep inducing effect but researchers think it could be linked to high antioxidant and serotonin levels in the hairy green fruit.
Melatonin is a very important hormone produced by your brain’s pineal gland; its primary function is to make sure your internal clock is well regulated. Your internal clock being the thing that makes you feel drowsy at night and alert in the daytime.
Wouldn’t it be just great if there was something growing naturally in the world that contained melatonin? Well, look no further than that walnut tree at the end of your garden. The little nutty legends!
Walnuts have been used since before records began by traditional healers to treat anything from colic to sunburn, and now it seems they can play a role in combating insomnia. Not bad for a little nut.
A note of caution before you go knocking back handfuls of walnuts: they are considered a highly allergenic food and can trigger a severe anaphylactic reaction in some people.
So, if you haven’t tried them before, do so in small doses to begin with, otherwise you might have more trouble than not sleeping!
4. Cheddar Cheese
Now we’ve all heard that eating cheese before bed can give us nightmares. While that may be the case, the one good thing about nightmares is that we have to be asleep for them to happen, don’t we?!
And if you suffer from a sleep disorder, putting up with a few nightmares may be a small price to pay for a good night’s sleep.
Cheese contains tryptophan, a component of the brain chemical serotonin, which gets converted into the well-known sleep-inducing hormone melatonin (there it is again).
Turkey is often widely cited as sleep inducer for the same reason, but gram for gram, cheddar cheese actually contains more tryptophan than turkey does.
For much the same reason as cheese, yogurt and milk are also widely believed to have sleep inducing qualities linked to the compound tryptophan.
Of course not all yogurts are created equally, so it pays to be a little bit selective when it comes to your pre-bed pot. Avoid any yogurts high in sugar as they are likely to trigger a blood sugar spike that may counteract the somnambulant effect of the tryptophan in the yogurt.
So there you have it, five of the best sleep inducing foods out there. So instead of chomping down on that late night bacon sandwich before bed, why not have some walnut oatmeal or a nice bowl of yogurt and kiwi washed down with a lovely glass of cherry juice instead?
Happy snacking, sleep fans!