5 Foods for a Better Night's Sleep

5 Foods for a Better Night's Sleep

It’s nighttime. Everything is still, quiet, and you lay in bed feeling no where close to falling asleep.

This is a common nightly scenario for many Americans. In fact, about 10 percent of Americans suffer chronic insomnia and nearly 9 million adults in the U.S. have reported using prescription sleeping pills. This may not sound like a problem, but “inadequate sleep has been tied to the start and worsening of a range of diseases and conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression.” Yikes! In our culture, we like to go for the quick fix: pop a pill in order to fix the issue. However, taking a step back and looking at the whole picture is more valuable than you may have ever realized and it can all start with the foods you're eating!

Fresh fruits and vegetables are packed with vibrant nutrients that are just waiting to fuel the body. Being properly nourished leads to an increase in energy during the day and a more calm, rested sleep in the evenings. Check out these top 5 foods that can help calm the body and promote a better night's sleep.

  • Almonds

With a good source of magnesium, a mineral that has been shown to improve sleep and muscle relaxation, almonds have made it to the top of our list. Dark leafy greens, pumpkin seeds and organic soybeans are high sources of magnesium. Additionally, almonds contain about 7g of protein per serving, which helps stabilize blood sugar throughout the course of the night. A stable, consistent blood sugar switches your body from an alert adrenaline cycle to a rest and digest cycle. Throw a handful of almonds into your next Blast or eat a tablespoon of almond butter an hour before bedtime.

  • Bananas

Can you guess what turkey and bananas have in common? They both contain tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin and melatonin. These hormones are produced to help the body relax and calm down after a long day. By increasing the amount of tryptophan in the diet, the body is able to produce more relaxation hormones. Bananas are also a good source of magnesium and potassium, which help relax overstressed muscles. Use half a frozen banana in your next Blast for a creamy texture and sweet flavor!

  • Decaf Green Tea

Limiting daily intake of caffeine can lead to a better night's sleep. Green tea naturally contains caffeine, but luckily decaf green tea is available in most supermarkets. Decaf green tea contains a compound called theanine, which helps promote restful sleep. As long as the caffeine is removed, your body can access the calming properties of green tea. Chamomile, lemongrass and spearmint teas all aid in calming the body, leading to a better night's sleep. Steep the tea in hot water for several minutes, let cool and use as the liquid base in your Blasts or have a warm cup before bedtime.

  • Cherries

One of the most surprising restful foods on the list are cherries. Research from the University of Pennsylvania found that tart cherry juice naturally boosted the body's supply of melatonin, which can help people with insomnia. Just be warned that this potent juice is very tart, so sip with caution. It can be a great addition to any Blast or can be added to your warm cup of tea before bedtime.

  • Oatmeal

Using whole rolled oats in your next Blast not only tastes great, but can aid in a good night's sleep. Like almonds, oatmeal promotes a stable blood sugar, which allows the body to enter the rest and digest phase of sleep. Magnesium, phosphorus, calcium and potassium are all found in abundance in oatmeal and these nutrients are some of the most beneficial in promoting sound sleep. You can use them raw in your Blast or have a small bowl before bedtime to calm the body and mind.

Including the above listed foods can not only help you have a more restful sleep, but can improve the health of your body. These foods can help clear toxic cells in the body, fight inflammation and regulate hunger cues leading to decreased mindless snacking. Following a balanced diet, decreasing caffeine consumption and incorporating stress-reducing activities like yoga and meditation are all key components of a better night's sleep. Instead of reaching for the pills, reach for your NutriBullet and start Blasting!

Try this Sleepy Time recipe to get your zzz's on!

Registered Dietitian, Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics

Can you recommend foods that will help you sustain sleep related to working the night shift. I have no problem getting to sleep but after 4-5 hours I need to use the loo and then can't get back to sleep. When I sleep during my off days I have no problem though with sleeping 7+ hours without waking up.
These foods have been shown to help maintain a better nights sleep. I would suggest assessing your fluid intake prior to bedtime, you may need to hold off on large amounts of fluid several hours prior to bedtime. It is hard to have a regulated schedule when your sleep cycle differs throughout the week.
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