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  • by Nicola Boulton September 01, 2022 5 min read

    Need Sleep? Consider What to Eat

    Researchers, nutritionists, and sleep experts have made several advancements in their works over the recent years, and they have discovered the connection between certain foods that promote sleep. These foods contain certain chemical compounds that play a vital role in ensuring that muscle spasms are reduced and body muscles are relaxed and eased of the tension that may have accumulated during the day.

    Sleep practically affects various aspects of our health. Settling for poor quality sleep poses health risks such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. With the rise of capitalism, which drives people to work harder to provide a better life for themselves and their families, many people find it hard to get quality sleep. Furthermore, children have become “zombies” since they redirect their attention and focus to continuously using gadgets late at night. What foods do you need to eat to get proper sleep?

    How Do We Sleep?

    Sleep is facilitated by the activation of a hormone in the brain. This hormone, known as melatonin, is secreted by the pineal gland, strategically located between the two hemispheres inside the brain. 

    Melatonin directs the brain to retire to sleep, especially at night. People suffering from sleep disorders such as insomnia may have a deprived or inefficient level of melatonin secretion. Such people should take melatonin supplements to raise the melatonin level in their brains.

    Deep sleep is sleep where brain waves are drastically slowed down. These brain waves have a high amplitude and a lower frequency to enable the brain to sync memories and enable the body to relax its muscles and repair its cell tissues.

    Foods That Are Beneficial For Quality Sleep

    Several chemical compounds, amino acids, enzymes, and hormones regulate the sleep cycle. They include but are not limited to serotonin, calcium, magnesium, potassium, melatonin, histamine, folate, copper, vitamin D, and zinc.

    However, it is worth acknowledging that studies concerning the best foods to help you sleep are sometimes inconclusive. This may be accredited to the varying levels of chemical compounds in similar strains of a particular plant. For example, some grapes have a higher level of melatonin, while others have a lower level. Furthermore, Brewer (2019), showed different results on the indications that particular foods make you sleep. Some foods, however, contain higher amounts of chemical compounds that improve a person’s sleep cycle. We shall delve into them shortly

    Warm Milk

    There is a common childhood association that relates drinking warm milk to bedtime. This association is beneficial, especially for children, since it keeps them away from the detrimental effects of overexposure to blue light.

    Chemical compounds in milk that promote sleep include vitamin D, calcium, melatonin, and tryptophan. A warm cup of milk before bedtime can relax and rejuvenate your exhausted mind.

    Kiwifruit

    Kiwifruit contains essential chemical compounds that promote sleep. To be precise, these chemicals reduce the time one takes to fall asleep and improve sleep quality overall. These chemical compounds include potassium, magnesium, melatonin, flavonoids, calcium, and folate.

    According to Wu et al. (2021), flavonoids contain anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties that prevent your cells from oxidative damage that otherwise cause disease.

    Walnuts

    Walnuts have significantly high melatonin levels, which helps your brain induce sleep. Furthermore, walnuts have other beneficial chemical compounds such as serotonin, potassium, calcium, and magnesium.

    Passionflower Tea

    Passionflower tea is an herbal tea that is rich in flavonoid antioxidants. Flavonoid antioxidants reduce heart risk disease, boost your immune health and reduce inflammation in your body. Passionflower tea has also been tipped to reduce anxiety and help relieve mood disorders.

    Passionflower tea has also been studied for its potential to reduce anxiety. These calming properties may induce your brain to sleep.

    Dena Westphalen (2019) commented that passionflower increases the production of the brain chemical gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which works to inhibit other brain chemicals that induce stress.

    Tart Cherries

    Losso et al. (2018) argued that consuming tart cherries significantly helps in improving your sleep. Tart cherries boast a variety of vital chemical compounds such as serotonin, melatonin, tryptophan, and potassium. Additionally, antioxidants called polyphenols present in tart cherries may influence sleep regulation.

    Furthermore, tart cherries are rich in fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Vitamin E is vital in improving reproduction, vision, and blood health. In contrast, fiber lowers cholesterol levels and helps maintain bowel health. Tart cherries also have anti-inflammatory properties that improve cognitive function.

    Fatty Fish

    Fatty fish contains higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, which help in serotonin regulation. As mentioned, serotonin plays a key role in establishing a regular sleep cycle.

    Fatty fish also exhibit higher levels of other sleep-inducing chemicals, such as magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, calcium, and potassium.

    According to Anita et al. (2014), eating about 300g of Atlantic salmon a minimum of three times a week for 6 months improves your sleep. It enables you to function better physically and mentally than consistently eating beef or pork with similar nutritional value. These health benefits may be accredited to higher vitamin D levels and improvements in heart-rate regulation due to the higher levels of omega-3 content.

    White Rice

    White rice has fewer antioxidants, fibers, and nutrients since its germ and bran are removed compared to brown rice. However, white rice contains essential minerals that improve your quality of sleep. These chemical compounds include folate, thiamine, manganese, and carbs.

    It is worth acknowledging that the insufficient fiber levels and the high carb content contribute to the high glycemic index, and therefore white rice quickly increases your blood sugar. Due to this high glycemic index, eating rice at least 1 hour before bedtime is beneficial to improve your quality of sleep.

    The Bottom Line

    Getting enough sleep plays a key role in improving your physical and cognitive abilities. Certain chemical compounds, amino acids, and minerals in certain foods improve your sleep quality and reduce the time you need to fall asleep. These chemical compounds include serotonin, melatonin, manganese, magnesium, zinc, potassium, folate, and antioxidants. Besides eating foods rich in chemical compounds, it is advisable to create an efficient nighttime bed routine, which includes reducing your exposure to blue light, adapting essential oils, and taking a warm shower before retiring to bed.

    References

    Brewer, D. (2019). The Science, Techniques, And Tips For How To Get To Sleep. Lulu. Com.

    Dena Westphalen, Pharm.D.(2019) - Https://Www.Ncbi.Nlm.Nih.Gov/Pmc/Articles/PMC4013386/

    Hansen, A. L., Dahl, L., Olson, G., Thornton, D., Graff, I. E., Frøyland, L., Thayer, J. F., & Pallesen, S. (2014). Fish Consumption, Sleep, Daily Functioning, And Heart Rate Variability. Journal Of Clinical Sleep Medicine : JCSM: Official Publication Of The American Academy Of Sleep Medicine, 10(5), 567–575. Https://Doi.Org/10.5664/Jcsm.3714

    Losso, J. N., Finley, J. W., Karki, N., Liu, A. G., Pan, W., Prudente, A., ... & Greenway, F. L. (2018). A Pilot Study Of Tart Cherry Juice For The Treatment Of Insomnia And Investigation Of Mechanisms. American Journal Of Therapeutics, 25(2), E194.

    Wu, S., Pang, Y., He, Y., Zhang, X., Peng, L., Guo, J., & Zeng, J. (2021). A Comprehensive Review Of Natural Products Against Atopic Dermatitis: Flavonoids, Alkaloids, Terpenes, Glycosides, And Other Compounds. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, 140, 111741.

    Nicola Boulton
    Nicola Boulton


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