Around this time of the year, the days are very short and the weather is pretty terrible. It’s hard to feel rested when we wake up early in the morning and the sun isn’t up, and sometimes the day stays grey and snowy or rainy throughout the day. It is hard to cut out caffeine or exercise more in order to get better rest—especially when there is not extra time in the day! This list is meant to help you fall asleep faster and get a better quality of sleep in order to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face even the coldest, darkest days.
Studies have shown that tart cherry juice before bed has helped individuals fall asleep faster than control groups. Cherries contain melatonin, which is naturally produced by the body to initiate sleep. Melatonin regulates our internal clock, and when we do not produce enough, or we throw our natural production off with the artificial light of technology, we do not sleep correctly. By eating foods containing a natural supplement, we can replenish our store.
Tryptophan in turkey is (incorrectly) infamous for putting us to sleep on Thanksgiving. Tryptophan is an amino acid that produces serotonin, which is an essential neurotransmitter in relaxation and happiness. It also aids production of melatonin for sleep. At dinner, or as a bedtime snack, eat a handful of walnuts to potentially aid serotonin production and feel more relaxed at bedtime.
3. Cheese and Other Milk Products
Do you remember your parents warming a glass of milk for you if you couldn’t sleep as a child? Turns out, this old wives’ tale actually has roots in scientific truth. Milk has lots of calcium, which is used to release tryptophan to manufacture melatonin. Calcium is released throughout the night, and is highest during the most important part of our sleep cycle (REM.) Adding more calcium to our diet not only may help put us to sleep faster, but may also aid in giving us more restful sleep through the night!
If you are low in magnesium, you may have sleep issues. Magnesium is a key mineral in many bodily functions, including muscle movement. Foods high in magnesium, such as bananas, will help relax the muscles at night, therefore help put you to sleep more easily. Studies have shown that high levels of magnesium in the diet help with better sleep overall. Bananas have an added bonus of potassium which also helps with muscle health.
Tuna and other fish is a great choice for dinner if you’re looking to improve sleep. Tuna contains higher levels of selenium and vitamin B6, among other nutrients vital to healthy rest. Low levels of selenium may lead to fatigue and thyroid problems—both of which can contribute to sleep issues. Vitamin B6 and B-complex in general has a good-mood effect on the brain, which can improve the quality of sleep and your waking hours as well!
*Images from Google