We do a dozen things in our quest to live a long, healthy life but often forget the most important bit: to do nothing at all. Sleep is increasingly being recognized as crucial for proper bodily functioning. The fewer hours a person sleeps, the more likely they are to develop obesity, diabetes and heart disease. However, getting 8 hours of sleep a night isn’t all that easy. If you’re already stressed and distracted, you could be spending more hours tossing and turning in bed than actually sleeping. If you’re having trouble sleeping, eating more of these seven foods can help you a lot.
Raw walnuts can potentially increase the amount of melatonin being produced by your body. Melatonin is a hormone which controls your internal clock. High levels of melatonin means your body is better able to regulate your sleep cycle. Lab studies done on rats observed that rats which were fed a lot of walnuts had much higher levels of melatonin than those which weren’t. Eat about 5-7 walnuts every day to improve your sleep patterns in the long run.
2. Pumpkin Seeds
You don’t have to pop sleeping pills when you can munch on pumpkin seeds instead. Pumpkin seeds are very high in tryptophan and zinc. Both these compounds stimulate higher production of serotonin when ingested. Serotonin is a hormone responsible for bringing your body to a more tranquil state. Roast pumpkin seeds and eat about ¼ cup of them whole to take advantage of their sleep-inducing properties.
3. Coconut Oil
Half the composition of coconut oil is actually a fatty acid called lauric acid. Lauric acid is a healthy fat which has been linked to better quality of sleep. In contrast, unhealthy fats like those in butter are linked to poor sleep levels. To use coconut oil for better sleep, use it in place of butter, margarine and other unhealthy fat sources. Always use cold pressed, virgin coconut oil because it has all of its nutrients intact and is healthier than processed coconut oil.
4. Greek Yogurt
Instead of drinking a glass of warm milk before bed, try eating a bowl of Greek yogurt instead. Greek yogurt is very high in vitamin B12 and calcium, both of which your body requires for a good night’s sleep, Always choose unsweetened, plain Greek yogurt because you don’t need a sugar high when you’re trying to sleep. You could mix it with seeds and nuts to make it an even more effective bedtime snack.
If you’re a fan of mushrooms, then you’re in luck. Mushrooms contain high levels of B complex vitamins and vitamin D. In fact, mushrooms are one of the only plant-based sources of vitamin D. This comes in useful if you’re trying to sleep because high levels of these nutrients have been linked to better sleep. All mushrooms contain these compounds, so choose your favorite variety and fill yourself up on it.
Like walnuts, cherries also increase melatonin levels in your body. In particular, sour montmorency cherries were particularly effective at stimulating melatonin production. You can drink a glass of montmorency juice before bed to help you sleep better. Again, make sure you read the labels first and only buy brands which don’t have any added sugar. Sugar will just undo all the sleep benefits of the cherry juice.
While carrots are most popular for being high in beta-carotenes, they also contain a lesser known compound called alpha-carotene. Studies have consistently shown that people with chronic sleep problems have extremely low levels of alpha-carotene in their body. Carrots are the highest source of alpha-carotene, so try to eat as much of them as possible. Whether they’re juiced, raw or boiled, carrot in all its forms will improve your quality of sleep.