Foods that Help You Sleep

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We all know how valuable our beauty sleep is, but some nights that restorative slumber remains just out of reach. Going without sleep for too long can seriously take a toll on your body and your health, so it’s important you’re always getting a good amount of shut-eye to keep you in optimal shape. While factors such as stress can often interfere with your sleep, the best fix for getting a good night’s sleep could be as simple as adding the right foods to your diet!

There are many natural reactions that occur within your body when it’s shutting down for rest. The best way to ensure you’re getting the best sleep is by consuming foods that encourage the proper chemical releases and reactions needed to fall asleep quick and stay asleep through the night. As many of you have probably experienced, a big turkey dinner works pretty well to put you straight to sleep. That is thanks in part to the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan also helps make melatonin, a hormone that is triggered by darkness that helps you sleep. That’s what makes walnuts a great bedtime snack—they’re not only a great source of tryptophan, they also contain melatonin. Dairy products also contain high amounts of tryptophan, and their high calcium content helps the brain use that tryptophan effectively. So while warm milk does work just fine, other dairy products like cheeses and yogurt help just as much! Other foods that are high in tryptophan include chickpeas, crustaceans (like shrimp or lobster), and elk.

And tryptophan isn’t the only thing that helps produce melatonin; Vitamin B6 is a necessary nutrient for the process as well. Foods like fish (particularly salmon, halibut, and tuna), raw garlic, and pistachio nuts are all high in B6.  Additionally, some foods are a great source of melatonin on their own, such as tart cherry juice. A study even showed that people who experienced chronic insomnia experienced some relief after drinking cherry juice twice a day—so if you’re consistently having troubles sleeping, put cherry juice on your grocery list!

Studies have also shown that foods that have a high glycemic index will help you fall asleep faster. Blood sugar and insulin levels can play a big role in how long it takes you to fall asleep, and foods with a high glycemic index help create natural spikes in these levels. So look to foods like pretzels and corn chips, white and jasmine rice, and honey to help you fall asleep quicker. Magnesium is another chemical that will help you at night—it will ensure that once you fall asleep, you’ll stay asleep. Foods that are high in magnesium include whole grain such as barley, nuts and seeds such as almonds and sunflower seeds, and soybeans.

So add these foods to your diet and get the beauty rest you deserve!

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