It never fails. The more important it is that you get a good night’s sleep the harder it is to get one.
Maybe you have an important meeting tomorrow. Or perhaps you need to get up early to catch a plane. But you find yourself tossing, turning and watching the clock unable to slip off to sleep.
Or when you finally do pay a visit to La La Land, your brain rudely wakes you up again. And suddenly you’re back to watching the clock and worrying.
Fall asleep faster and sleep better with superfoods
But, unbelievably, breaking this frustrating routine may simply require a trip to the kitchen. Because it turns out certain foods have a surprising superpower. They can help you fall asleep easier and sleep sounder.
Adding these four sleep friendly superfoods to your menu could help you finally get the rest you need, no drugs required.
1. Raw walnuts:
I’ve told you about melatonin before. As the sun starts to go down your body ramps up production of this critical hormone.
Melatonin helps prepare your body for rest so you can fall asleep easily. Plus it helps you sleep soundly throughout the night. And it turns out you may be able to harness the power of this natural hormone simply by munching on a fistful of organic raw walnuts.
Walnuts are a surprisingly good source of melatonin. According to the experts, a gram of walnuts contains around 2.5 to 4.5 nanograms of the hormone. And a typical serving of walnuts is around 30 to 50 grams, about 14 walnut halves or a bit less than half a cup.
And while those numbers are far below what a supplement will deliver an animal study conducted at the University of Texas Health Science confirmed eating the nuts can significantly raise blood levels of the hormone. When lab rats were fed walnuts instead of their typical rat chow, their melatonin levels shot up three fold.
So next time you know you need to get a good sleep grab a handful of walnuts before hitting the hay.
You’ve heard before that the beta carotene in carrots can help with night vision. But it turns out another nutrient in Bugs Bunny’s favorite snack… alpha carotene… could be the key to a better night’s sleep.
A study at University of Pennsylvania found that low levels of alpha carotene could cause BIG trouble when you’re trying to fall asleep.
Carrots are loaded with the nutrient, which can help you fall asleep more easily. Plus they contain potassium, which the researchers found was associated with less daytime sleepiness. A cup of carrot juice or raw carrots contains a whopping 689 mg of the mineral.
If you’ve had trouble getting to sleep lately, or have a big day planned tomorrow, try a side salad with organic sliced carrots at dinner. Or munch on some raw baby carrots for a snack.
3. Pumpkin seeds:
Serotonin is known as the “feel good” hormone. But this neurotransmitter also plays an important role in our sleep and wake cycle.
Experts say when our serotonin levels dip too low it causes sleep disruptions and insomnia. But eating foods high in serotonin “precursors,” nutrients your body uses to make serotonin, can help prevent your levels from dropping too low.
And it turns out pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, are a great source of two of those building block nutrients: tryptophan and zinc. In 100 grams of the (shell on) seeds, you get about 600 mg of tryptophan and 7.64 mg of zinc.
Sprinkle some pumpkin in your soup or salad for a delicious crunch. Or simply grab a handful for a tasty snack that can also help you fall asleep.
Tomatoes, both the red and orange varieties, are an excellent source of lycopene, a phytonutrient found in plants. And according to research, low levels of the nutrient are associated with very short sleep cycles of five or less hours a night.
Try eating more tomatoes to raise your own level. Tomatoes taste terrific tossed into a salad, topping a sandwich or even just eaten plain with a dash of Himalayan sea salt and fresh cracked pepper.
But go ahead and add more of this tasty fruit to your cooked meals as well. Cooking helps break down the cell walls in the tomatoes making more lycopene available to be absorbed. You’ll also find plenty of this important nutrient in watermelon, red peppers, papaya and grapefruit.
Wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle your big day. Fall asleep and stay asleep using the power of these sleep-friendly superfoods.