Foods for Natural Sleep Improvement

Foods for Natural Sleep Improvement

December 20, 2021

Author: Lauren Baer

Sleep wellness is of utmost priority here, and there are many holistic ways to improve your rest with what you consume. Here are some of our favorite foods (and some drinks) for better sleep.

Woman making juice in kitchen.

Juice for Better Sleep

An unexpected addition to the list"cherry juice. Unfortunately, the Maraschino on top of a whiskey sour won't cut it"it has to be Montmorency cherry juice. Though this juice contains sugar, these are sour cherries with lots of health benefits"it also contains magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous. The effect on sleep comes from phytochemicals that prompt the body to release melatonin. Melatonin naturally helps your body to regulate your sleep. 

Greens for Sleep Duration

Two greens in particular: lettuce, and kiwi. Not content with being the basis of salads everywhere, lettuce has another claim to health fame: lactucin. The highest level of lactucin is found in romaine, but most leafy varietals contain some. This is known to positively impact duration and quality of sleep. [1]

The effect of kiwi on sleep isn't down to something they contain. Although they are both low calorie and rich in vitamins and nutrients"it's down to what they promote within your body: serotonin. Whilst the studies on this are not robust, they are strongly indicative of kiwi having a positive effect on sleep wellness. 

"In a 4-week study, 24 adults consumed two kiwifruits one hour before going to bed each night. At the end of the study, participants fell asleep 42% more quickly than when they didn't eat anything before bedtime. Additionally, their ability to sleep through the night without waking improved by 5%, while their total sleep time increased by 13%. The sleep-promoting effects of kiwis are sometimes attributed to serotonin. Serotonin is a brain chemical that helps regulate your sleep cycle." [2]

Whole grain bread.

Grains for Sleep Regulation

Whole grains are rich in many nutrients, some of which affect sleep, such as potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Unbeknownst to many, most grains are good for your restfulness. While the fiber intake of whole grains like brown rice are associated with deeper sleep, the high glycemic index of white rice aids the body in serotonin conversion. The bodily conversion of serotonin increases melatonin and helps regulate your sleep.  
"It's been suggested that eating foods with a high GI, such as white rice, at least 1 hour before bed may help improve sleep quality." [3]

Person pouring milk into a glass.

Milk for Sleep Induction

The age-old tradition of a glass of milk before bed is surprisingly based on science. It has high levels of tryptophan, which we can also find in other high-protein foods. Milk has likely gained this long-lasting reputation as a sleep inducer over other high protein options because chowing down on meat before bedtime isn't as appealing. If you're dairy-free, fear not! Soy milk also contains tryptophan, so you can partake too.

Plate of almonds.

Nuts for Sleep Quality

Almonds, walnuts, and several other types of nuts are a source of melatonin and magnesium. Melatonin regulates your internal clock and signals your body to prepare for sleep. Magnesium is an anti-inflammatory we know to be good for quality of sleep and cortisol reduction. 

"The fatty acid makeup of walnuts may also contribute to better sleep. They provide alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid that's converted to DHA in the body. DHA may increase serotonin production." [4]

So if sleep wellness is important to you, take these bedtime snack options under advisement. See if you can sleep better tonight.

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