Author: Sherry L. Granader, Sports Nutritionist
Falling asleep can be difficult for many people; tossing and turning all night can be a result of what you consumed during the day. You probably know some of the tricks to help you go to sleep, like going to bed at the same time every night, keeping your room dark and cool and leaving your cell phone and computer in another room. Keeping those tips in mind, what you eat can keep you up or lull you to sleep quickly.
Here are some tips and foods to enjoy that will help you get a good night’s sleep:
- Look for foods with tryptophan – like turkey, for example. Tryptophan is an amino acid that produces a calming effect in the body, triggering the chemicals serotonin and magnesium. Both relax the muscles throughout the body, making it easier to fall asleep.
- Avoid eating huge meals before bedtime – otherwise your body has to run on all cylinders to digest all that food. Sleep would be impossible.
- Enjoy a half of a banana and some walnuts as a light snack before bed – the magnesium found in the banana will help relax all the muscles in the body, including the heart, while the walnuts help stabilize any blood sugar fluctuations that may interrupt sleep.
- Consider a calcium and magnesium supplement about an hour before bedtime – calcium and magnesium is one of the best ways to lower blood pressure naturally. It should be taken in a 2:1 ratio (500mg of calcium with 250mg of magnesium) in an acidic environment, preferably Vitamin C.
- Make up some tuna and bean salad – protein and fiber are the stars in this late-night, healthy snack that is also full of tryptophan to relax the muscles. Serotonin is produced from the slow-burning carbohydrates found in the beans. Use black-eyed peas, kidney beans or chickpeas easily found at your local grocery store. Add some fresh lemon juice, chopped red pepper, ground pepper and herbs like ground rosemary for flavor.
- Oatmeal for dinner? Oats are an excellent source of melatonin, a chemical that is released that induces sleep. Add a few banana slices or a little drizzle of honey for some extra sleep power.
- Almonds are full of magnesium, tryptophan, protein and taste great on their own or with an apple. Look for health food stores that grind their own nuts including peanuts, cashews and almonds. Dip apple slices into 1½ tablespoons of almond butter for a delicious, satisfying late-night snack.
- Prosciutto and pitted dates make a great snack before bed because dates are high in tryptophan. Wrap a slice of prosciutto around a pitted date and sprinkle with pepper for a yummy snack.
Getting a good night’s sleep affects your mood, productivity and every aspect of your day. A lack of sleep can lead to increased weight gain because many people tend to go for the high-calorie foods when tired during the day. You deserve to get a good night’s rest.