There are hundreds of factors that impact how long a person sleeps and whether they get good quality rest. Food choice is one factor that will affect how well a person sleeps, but most people never give it a thought. According to Sleep Health, "in America, 70% of adults report that they obtain insufficient sleep at least one night a month, and 11% report insufficient sleep every night". Experts estimate that sleep-related problems affect around 70 million Americans of all ages and socioeconomic classes. The Sleep Association found that insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, with short-term issues reported by about 30% of adults and chronic insomnia by 10%. For many people, insomnia is typically a phase that stems from a variety of factors like stress. So, if one can eliminate whatever causes the stress, then it resolves the insomnia problem. Fortunately, this type of insomnia can be cured through the use of natural methods. For example, a diet change is an easy, natural way to help remedy some insomnia disorders. Some people have found that eating certain sleep-inducing foods each night helps the sleep process go more smoothly.
What is about food that makes a person sleep better or not get enough sleep? According to Medical News Today, "many chemicals, amino acids, enzymes, nutrients, and hormones work together to promote good sleep and regulate the sleep cycle." These include:
- gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)
- vitamin D
- B vitamins
Top 10 Foods That Help You Sleep
- Poultry – Chicken or turkey has tryptophan, an amino acid that solely comes from food and drinks consumption. Tryptophan helps the body make serotonin (a relaxing mood hormone), a catalyst for making melatonin (a hormone that controls sleep cycles).
- Fish – Fish is packed with vitamin B6. Salmon, tuna, and halibut have the most B6 when compared to other fish. B6, like tryptophan, helps the body produce melatonin, which is generally triggered by being in the dark.
- Yogurt – The calcium portion sparks the process that helps a person sleep by helping the body make tryptophan and melatonin.
- Kale – is also rich in calcium which is essential in the production of sleep hormones.
- Bananas – are naturally high in potassium which contribute to sleepiness, but it also possesses tryptophan and magnesium which are natural sedatives.
- Whole Grains – triggers insulin production, which inadvertently sparks tryptophan activity in the brain. They also have a high level of magnesium which has been linked to good quality sleep.
- Honey – Glucose in honey lowers orexin levels, a neurotransmitter in the brain that contributes to alertness.
- Nuts – boost serotonin levels, especially walnuts, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds.
- Eggs – Eggs have tryptophan.
- White Rice – are high on the glycemic index. This means that it will naturally increase blood sugar and insulin levels, which can trigger sleepiness.
Foods That Keep You Up
Some people have the opposite problem of insomnia. Do you find yourself exhausted during the day? Do you find yourself dragging with low energy? Some foods contribute to a high energy level and act as a stimulant. The irony is that many foods on the list of foods that help people fall asleep can also on the list of foods that keep people up. The list of foods that keep a person up include:
- Coffee - Caffeine keeps you awake by blocking sleep-promoting adenosine receptors in the brain. Even five hours after drinking caffeine, 50% of it remains in your bloodstream and has been shown to impair sleep.
- Nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and goji berries) - Plants in the nightshade family possess natural pesticides called glycoalkaloids designed to kill insects and worms toxic to human cells. These types of foods will keep people up at night.
- Spicy foods- spicy or peppery can result in an upset stomach, and the chemicals can thus activate your senses and keep you up at night. It's essential to keep the spice in your life away at night.
- Dark chocolate - A key ingredient in dark chocolate is caffeine and with stimulants like theobromine, phenylethylamine, and anandamide,
- Alcohol - Alcohol consumption should be limited to one drink per day for women and two drinks for men. It is known to interfere with sleep and can cause random awakenings at night.
- Sports-Bar Food - Fatty foods take longer for the body to digest. And when the body is actively digesting food, it cannot power down.
- Cured Meats - An essential biogenic amine found lurking within aged foods is histamine, a powerful neurotransmitter that can aggravate digestive, hormonal, cardiovascular, and nervous systems. Histamine causes insomnia.
- Sugar, Flour, and Refined Carbohydrates - All sugars and starches, except those that come in the form of whole natural food like a piece of fruit or sweet potato, are considered refined carbohydrates and will disrupt sleep cycles.
Key Takeaways: It is no secret that sleep is essential for all living things, and humans will spend at least 1/3 of their life doing it. According to CBS News, more and more people are having trouble sleeping for various reasons. "People are increasingly digging into their pockets for help. In the past year, Americans have spent an estimated $41 billion on sleeping aids and remedies - a number that is expected to jump to $52 billion by 2020". Many people do not realize that some things eaten right before bedtime can prevent them from getting a full night of rest. Oddly, most people focus on buying sleep aids or remedies before changing their diet. However, eating the right things before bedtime can induce sleep. It works the same way when eating breakfast. Breakfast should consist of foods that will give the body energy for the day and not induce sleep.