Health: The Best Foods for Better Sleep
Eating for Z's
Having trouble sleeping? These snooze-inducing snacks can help you escape a slumber slump and retreat into better sleep. Hey, it’s important!
Eating a heavy meal within two hours of bedtime can keep you awake, but light-and-airy popcorn makes a great late-night snack. Popcorn contains carbohydrates that help send the amino acid tryptophan to your brain, where it is used to make serotonin — a sleep-inducing neurotransmitter. Choose plain, fat-free popcorn and jazz it up with a little curry powder or other tasty topping.
When it comes to seafood, halibut has a mild flavor and meaty texture that appeals to finicky fish eaters. It’s also packed with two building blocks for better sleep: tryptophan and vitamin B6. Other foods high in tryptophan include poultry, beef, soybeans, milk, cheese, yogurt, nuts and eggs.
Full of antioxidants, protein and vitamins, this treat from the Indian subcontinent can satisfy your cravings for creamy and sweet — without the sugar in most ice creams. A lassi is basically a smoothie, but it’s always made with yogurt. To make a mango lassi, cut up one fresh, peeled mango and put it in a blender. Add a handful of ice, a small scoop of plain Greek yogurt and a splash of water or milk. Add a dash of stevia for extra sweetness, if desired. If mango isn’t your thing, substitute frozen berries or watermelon.
High-fiber chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) are rich in vitamin B6, which your body uses to produce serenity-boosting serotonin. Try adding rinsed canned chickpeas to salads, soups and stews.
This caffeine-free herbal tea has a calming effect on the body. Plus, a hot drink before bed can make you feel cozy and ready for sleep.
A rise in blood sugar can reduce the brain’s production of orexin — a neurotransmitter that has been linked to wakefulness. For a touch of sweet without the sugar rush, add a little honey to your chamomile tea.
Dried Tart Cherries
A handful of dried cherries not only provides serotonin-boosting carbs, it’s also one of the few food sources of melatonin, which has been found to promote better sleep and lessen the effects of jet lag.
Wondering why you feel like napping after a big Thanksgiving feast? Tryptophan, found in turkey, is known to help calm you down and naturally get you to sleep. Not into turkey? Try roasted pumpkin seeds, which also contain tryptophan.
Packed with potassium (which can help you fall asleep faster), frozen bananas are the perfect base for healthy vegan “ice cream” (sometimes called “nice cream”). To make it, place a few frozen bananas in a blender and blend for several minutes. At first, they’ll just look slimy, but eventually they’ll morph into a creamy, delectable dessert. Add a handful of chopped nuts, if you’re thus inclined.
Don’t knock these roasted green “chips” until you’ve tried them. The hefty dose of vitamin K they contain helps repair and build muscles while you sleep. Simply chop up a bunch of kale, toss with olive oil and sea salt, spread on a pan and bake at 350 F until crispy.
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