9 Sleep Boosting Foods

Comfort is knowing what to eat for better sleep.

Most of us have head of what foods and drinks to avoid for better sleep – coffee, cola, deep-fried foods, chocolate, etc. – but we don’t often talk about the foods that can help promote sleep.

The 9 foods that follow are rich in nutrients that can naturally enhance sleep quality when eaten as a regular part of your diet.

1. Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and mandarins are rich in vitamin C. A study by the Public Library of Science found that people with lower levels of vitamin C were more likely to wake up at night.

Other great sources of vitamin C include cherries, bell peppers, leafy greens, kiwi, strawberries and papaya.

2. Turkey

Why is it that we get so tired after eating a big turkey dinner? Sure, the holidays can tire us out, but that’s not the only reason. Turkey contains tryptophan, a nutrient that is a pre-curser to serotonin production.

Other sources of tryptophan include chicken, eggs, sweet potatoes, chia seeds, hemp seeds, bananas, pumpkin seeds, almonds, yogurt, and leafy greens.

3. Bananas

Bananas are sleep-friendly for a number of reasons. First, they’re very rich in potassium. Potassium helps people stay asleep after falling asleep. Second, bananas have been found to boost the body’s production of melatonin. Third, they’re rich in vitamin B6, a nutrient that helps regulate the body’s stress response and helps relax the nervous system.

4. Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are a sleep powerhouse. They’re rich in vitamin C, tryptophan, potassium, and calcium.

Calcium is an important sleep nutrient because it helps regulate the REM Sleep Cycle (according to the journal European Neurology). Look for kale, mustard greens, and collard greens next time you go to the grocery store.

5. Seafood

Different types of seafood have many different sleep benefits.

The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found a strong correlation between daytime sleepiness and vitamin D deficiency. Salmon, tuna, swordfish, mackerel, and oysters are significant sources of  vitamin D.

Fish is also rich in vitamin B6.  Sardines are rich in calcium. Halibut and salmon are rich in omega 3s. According to a study by the University of Oxford, omega 3s can help you get the crucial deep sleep you need to wake up refreshed.

6. Seeds: Hemp, Chia, and Pumpkin Seeds

Seeds are loaded with many health benefits, including better sleep. Hemp, chia, and pumpkin seeds are rich in omega 3s – a nutrient linked with deeper, more restful sleep.

Pumpkin seeds are also a great source of sleep-friendly tryptophan.

7. Tart Cherries

If you have trouble sleeping, you may have already heard about tart cherry juice. Tart cherries are the food with the most significant source of melatonin.  Some foods, like bananas, boost the body’s production of melatonin, but tart cherries are a natural source of it.

8. Nuts

Almonds, cashews and peanuts are known as great sources of protein and healthy fats, but they’re also rich in vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is the nutrient that helps regulate the body’s stress response and helps relax the nervous system.

Almonds are also a great source of tryptophan, and walnuts provide a moderate source of melatonin.

9. Fermented Foods or Drinks

We’re learning more and more about the mind-gut connection. According to Shawn Stevenson, host of the popular podcast The Model Health Show, upwards of 95% of your body’s serotonin production is located in your gut. Furthermore, the gut has been found to have at least 400 times more melatonin than the pineal gland in your brain.

Keeping your gut happy helps keep production of serotonin and melatonin happy. In his book “Sleep Smarter”, Stevenson provides great detail and references recent studies linking a healthy gut to healthier sleep.

Fermented foods and beverages are great natural sources of gut-friendly probiotics and prebiotics. Kimchi, sauerkraut, fermented pickles, miso, yogurt with active culture, and kombucha are all great sources.

If you’re looking to level up your sleep, add these foods to your grocery list and make them a regular part of your diet. You’ll be glad you did.

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