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Apr 09, 2020
Did you know that global sleep problems have far more devastating effects than terrorism? Sleep-related problems kill more people globally than terrorism. While many people agree on the need for sleep, very few people understand how IMPORTANT sleep really is. A quick glimpse into the effects of poor sleeping patterns shows that 75% of individuals with depression also suffer from insomnia.
According to CDC statistics, 35% of adults in the U.S. don't get enough sleep. This is a shocking statistic considering sleep deprivation (getting less than 7 hours of sleep daily) introduces health risks such as obesity, which happens to be the 2nd leading cause of preventable death in America. According to the WHO, 2.8 million+ people die of obesity in the world every year. These deaths can be avoided by better sleep.
Food is one effective but commonly overlooked remedy for sleep problems. While most people think that sleeping more hours is the answer, food has a critical role to play in getting rid of sleep problems. There are good and bad foods for sleep. Some foods worsen sleep problems, while others eliminate sleep problems. Our interest here is in the latter. If you want to enjoy some deep sleep, here's what you should consider eating/drinking:
Milk has been regarded as one of the best foods for good sleep for a long time. No wonder babies fall asleep soon after breastfeeding. Taking a glass of milk can help you sleep better because milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid that is critical in the production of brain chemical serotonin. The body needs serotonin to produce melatonin, the main sleep hormone in the body. Without melatonin, the body can't be able to make physiological changes (like regulating temperature and respiration rate) that are required to promote sleep.
While it is perceived as a bad idea to have coffee or tea before bedtime, chamomile tea will make you sleep better and offer you a variety of other health benefits. According to a study on the effectiveness of chamomile in treating insomnia, it was found that consuming 270mg of chamomile extract/tea twice a day for approximately one month can make you fall asleep faster (15 minutes faster). The extract has also been proven to reduce nighttime wakening in comparison to those who don't consume chamomile tea.
Many other studies have proven this fact, including one done on women who drink chamomile tea. In the study that involved postnatal women, it was found that drinking chamomile tea daily for two weeks improves sleep quality and depression symptoms commonly associated with sleeping problems.
Chamomile tea is also considered food for good sleep because of the health benefits associated with the tea. Chamomile tea is rich in antioxidants that fight inflammation associated with chronic diseases like cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The tea also boosts digestive system health, regulates blood sugar levels, and relieves anxiety and depression. In general, chamomile tea boosts overall health. When the body is in good health, sleep patterns improve naturally.
Nuts, particularly almonds, have been linked to good sleep given their countless health benefits. The sleep benefits of almonds are linked mainly to their role as dietary sources of melatonin. Almonds are also packed with minerals like magnesium. They provide the body with 19% of the required magnesium per ounce. There is a distinct link between sleep problems and magnesium deficiency.
What's more, magnesium plays many other roles in the body. It is a crucial electrolyte needed for the nerves, muscles, and enzymes to function properly. Magnesium also plays a crucial role in altering mood. Many medical health problems are linked to magnesium deficiencies i.e., hypertension, diabetes, migraines, and insomnia. Without adequate amounts of magnesium from almonds, you can't be able to have a healthy body, let alone be able to sleep better.
The effect of almonds on sleep has been studied wildly. One such study found that feeding rats almond extract (400mg) made the rats sleep longer. Although more human studies are required, there's no doubt that almonds have sleep-promoting effects. You can have a handful of almonds (28g) before bed to sleep better. Magnesium aside, nuts like almonds are also good dietary sources of melatonin.
If you want food to make you fuller and sleep better at the same time, you can try some Jasmine rice. While eating some carbs just before bed may seem like a bad idea for both sleep and weight-related reasons, studies have found Jasmine rice to be good for sleep. In one such study, Jasmine rice was found to hasten sleep, a factor linked to the rice being high on the GI (glycemic index). The rice is believed to work by increasing the levels of brain chemicals tryptophan and serotonin, which are critical for sleep.
If you prefer fruits to make you fall asleep better, cherries are in the list of foods for good sleep. Cherries are rich in melatonin. They contain large amounts of phytochemicals, including melatonin, which is critical for regulating sleep-wake cycles. To sleep better, you should consider supplementing with cherry juice every night. Doing this is bound to increase total sleep time as well as overall sleep efficiency. Cherries are particularly helpful for individuals who suffer from disturbed sleep problems.
Munching on a banana before bed has also been proven to offer sleep benefits. Bananas derive their sleep benefits from their relaxing effect. Bananas are packed with magnesium and potassium, which happen to be natural muscle relaxants. Bananas also contain an important amino acid (tryptophan) that plays a crucial role in the production of sleep-boosting neurotransmitter - serotonin.
There's a clear link between sleeping disorders like insomnia and food. While conventional wisdom dictates that you avoid food before going to bed, the above foods have been proven to help people sleep better. It doesn't really matter if you are suffering from sleep deprivation or poor sleep quality because of direct or indirect factors like stress or anxiety, the above foods are bound to improve your sleep in many ways.
You can try any one or more of the above foods alongside some sleeping aids. What's more, remember to make your room extremely conducive for sleeping using blackout curtains, pillows, and mattress toppers, etc. It will also help to track your sleeping patterns with a sleep tracker just to make sure you are making some gains.