Sleep disorders affect one in two Americans! If there is no miracle food to solve insomnia, there are nonetheless some steps that you can take to improve your chances of getting a good night of sleep, including improving your diet. Here, you will find what you can put on the evening menu to promote quality sleep.
Do you have trouble falling asleep and/or poor quality sleep? Among the foods that facilitate sleep, those that contain tryptophan have a special place. Tryptophan is an amino acid at the origin of the synthesis of serotonin which is involved in the synthesis of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Studies have shown that consuming tryptophan helps you fall asleep faster and makes you feel sleepy and tired. Foods rich in omega-3 that contain high levels of serotonin are also recommended for good sleep.
What to eat to fall asleep faster and sleep better
A varied and balanced diet, rich in nutrients
Several nutrients, including iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium and the B vitamins, play an important role in the chemical balance of the brain. A deficiency in any of these nutrients can lead to a decrease in the quality of sleep. First and foremost, if you suffer from insomnia, it is important to have a complete blood test to check for nutrient deficiencies. It is therefore very important to have a varied and balanced diet that covers the body’s needs in nutrients. Consulting a dietitian can also be useful to ensure the right balance in the diet.
Foods rich in tryptophan
Whey, also known as whey protein, and pumpkin seeds could be great foods for those with insomnia. They contain a lot of tryptophan, which promotes sleep, and few other amino acids. According to a scientific study, the evening consumption of whey protein rich in alpha-lactalbumin improves morning alertness and daytime attention, signs of better sleep. Note that to better benefit from tryptophan and pumpkin seeds , it is best to consume them with a source of carbohydrates, such as fruits or grain products.
Many other foods are high in tryptophan, such as meat, poultry, and fish. But these also contain many other amino acids which compete with tryptophan and therefore restrict its passage to the brain.
Green vegetables (spinach, broccoli, cabbage, etc.) are rich in calcium which promotes sleep. To benefit from this calcium contribution, do not cook your green vegetables in water because the calcium will leak into the cooking liquid, but cook them with steam instead.
Cocoa is rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that is converted into serotonin by the body. Serotonin is one of the brain’s neurotransmitters that regulate falling asleep. Dark chocolate is also rich in magnesium which also has a beneficial effect on sleep. Having a piece of dark chocolate in the evening can be a good habit!
Lettuce contains a natural hypnotic, lactucin, which is part of the composition of certain sleeping pills and which is endowed with sleep-inducing properties.
Eggs, like whole grains, are rich in B vitamins, vitamins that play a major role in maintaining quality sleep, and particularly in vitamin B6, the sleep vitamin.
Apples contain 12 to 14% of glucose, mineral salts (potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium) and malic acid, all known for their sedative action.
Foods based on slow carbohydrates (potatoes, rice, bread, pasta) promote sleep. Slow carbohydrates have been shown to have a mild sleeping effect. They are indeed a sedative action on the nervous system and promote the absorption of a greater quantity of tryptophan by the brain.
Chicken, rich in lean protein, contains tryptophan, an amino acid that is naturally transformed into melatonin and clearly helps you fall asleep. Turkey and fish high in lean protein also have the same effect.
A glass of milk
A glass of warm milk is grandmother’s remedy for falling asleep. It turns out that milk and dairy products are rich in tryptophan and are also sources of casein, a protein that acts on relaxation.
Salmon is rich in omega 3 like other fatty fish (tuna, sardines, halibut …). Omega 3s contain an interesting level of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that triggers the secretion of melatonin and makes it easier to fall asleep.
Eat fruits at night
Eating fruits at night has several benefits. Indeed, most of the fruits have an average to high glycemic index, which promotes sleep. In addition, their interesting content of vitamins and minerals helps fight against deficiencies that can be responsible for sleep disorders. Finally, fruits are also a great way to end the meal without it getting too heavy, which would also promote insomnia.
Hugues Louissaint is an entrepreneur and writer, living in the US for over a decade. He has launched successful products such the Marabou Coffee brand, which has been highly successful in Florida. He has also been a writer for more than 5 years focusing on science, technology, and health. He writes part-time for the Scientific Origin and provides valuable input on a wide range of subjects.