Last week was Sleep Awareness Week, and it got us all thinking about how we can improve our own sleep health. We’ve particularly prioritized natural sleep solutions for insomnia and restlessness. So this week we’re looking at the different foods that may help you fall asleep naturally and peacefully. And we promise, there’s no turkey on the list! There is not actually enough tryptophan in turkey to make you sleepy – that’s a myth. So, what does make the list?
Tart cherries, particularly tart cherry juice, help to naturally boost levels of melatonin. Since melatonin is the chemical that helps your body fall asleep at night, boosting the amount of r body produces naturally can help you sleep! But be careful – too much melatonin can actually be harmful to your body. We actually included some info on the benefits of cherries in our most recent Buzzfeed quiz on sleep health.
Almonds are full of magnesium, which can help improve sleep quality when you have sleep problems. When your magnesium levels are too low, it’s much harder to fall asleep. Plus, almonds and other nuts like walnuts, are also supposed to be a natural source of melatonin just like cherries!
Kiwis are also full of vitamins and natural chemicals to help you sleep, but it’s not melatonin this time! Vitamins C and E, plus serotonin and folate, all might help you sleep more restfully. Apparently, they are also probably beneficial to eat right before bed: a study in which adults ate two kiwis an hour before going to bed every night found they fell asleep 42% quicker after four weeks. As one more added bonus, kiwis help lower inflammation which make them great for your gut health, too.
Fish, particularly fatty fish like tuna, salmon, and halibut, are high in vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 helps you sleep because it creates – you guessed it – melatonin! Serotonin also promotes sleep, and fish are full of both omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, which naturally increase serotonin production. In a study where men ate salmon three times a week for six months, they fell asleep faster and stayed asleep longer. So pick up some salmon on your next trip to the grocery store and get ready to catch some Z’s!
Kale and other leafy greens are full of calcium, which is a simple way to boost levels of tryptophan in the brain. We mentioned tryptophan before (it’s in turkey, remember?) because it’s another chemical that makes you sleepy by producing melatonin. Being calcium deficient can also make it difficult to fall asleep! If kale isn’t quite your speed, then spinach or another leafy green will do the trick as well.
A diet rich in these foods may not guarantee perfect sleep health, but it’s still an easy, natural sleep remedy worth trying. And not only will these foods help with insomnia and overall sleep quality, they’re also all generally healthy anti-inflammatory foods! For more on the anti-inflammatory diet, check out this blog post. And for more ideas on how to help your little ones fight insomnia, check out this one. For more advice and content like this, make sure you sign up for our email list.