Having certain types of foods for dinner or as a bedtime snack can literally give you a good night’s sleep. Such foods help to calm your mind and thereby induce sleep. They are called sleepers.
Then, there are certain foods that rev up the brain and prevent you from falling asleep. They are called the wakers.
To sleep better, you should have sleepers for dinner and avoid the wakers. This will help you enjoy your dinner, fight insomnia and you will sleep well throughout the night.
Sleeping well is essential for your wellbeing because
- Sleep is essential for body and health, and
- Lack of a good night’s slumber can have ill effects on your health.
What foods should your dinner or bedtime snack contain?
Sleeplessness is a major problem globally and more so in the United States. According to The National Institutes of Health, roughly 30 percent of the general population complains of sleep deprivation. That is a big figure exposed to the health hazards that arise from insomnia.
Some foods have a positive effect on your sleep cycle because they contain compounds that make you fall asleep and stay that way through the night.
Complex carbohydrates and tryptophan
Your dinner or bedtime snack should be rich in complex carbohydrates and tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid, which the body uses to produce serotonin in the brain. This is a neurotransmitter, which slows down nerve signals and helps to relax the brain.
A high carbohydrate meal will stimulate the secretion of insulin, which will neutralize amino acids like tyrosine that stimulate brain activity. This will, in turn, promote the activity of tryptophan to manufacture sleep-inducing neurotransmitters like serotonin and melatonin.
Foods rich in complex carbohydrates
The following is a list of high carbohydrate foods to include in your bedtime meal.
- Vegetables rich in complex carbohydrates are potato, corn, peas, cucumber, lettuce, broccoli, carrots
- Fruits rich in carbohydrates are apples, oranges, and raw pineapple
- Whole grains
- Dairy products such as milk and yogurt.
- Beans are a good source of complex carbohydrates.
- Oatmeal. Though this is a breakfast food, it contains carbohydrates and can help you sleep better if taken as a bedtime snack.
Foods rich in Tryptophan
Tryptophan is one of the ten amino acids, which the body uses to make proteins. Tryptophan not only helps you sleep well but also elevates your mood.
- Roasted chicken breast
- Turkey (That’s why you feel sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner).
- Cooked soybeans
- Roasted lamb loin
- Tender beef loin
- Milk, yogurt and cheese. A glass of warm milk will help you sleep better because of its tryptophan content and calcium. Its calcium content helps in the production of melatonin.
- Bananas are rich in tryptophan, calcium and vitamin B6, which helps better sleep.
- Pumpkin seeds
- Montmorency or tart cherry contains a significant quantity of melatonin, which helps you to sleep better. Include a few in your bedtime snack.
Calcium and magnesium
Having some calcium and magnesium in your bedtime meal too is good because these minerals help the brain to use tryptophan to manufacture melatonin.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone in the body, which induces sleep and maintains the body’s biological clock of sleep and wakefulness. This is why dairy foods, which contain tryptophan and calcium, are good sleep inducers.
Foods high in calcium and magnesium
- Almonds are a rich source of magnesium.
- Walnuts contain calcium, magnesium, and tryptophan.
- Cottage cheese contains slow-digesting casein proteins and will help you maintain your sleep hours
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Peanut butter
With the list of the healthy foods above, you could plan your favorite dinner or bedtime snack to get a good and complete sleep.
Some Good Examples of Bedtime Snacks
Use the information above to plan your dinner or bedtime snack. For example, a good dinner should be high in complex carbohydrates, tryptophan, and calcium and low to medium in proteins. Try these combinations for your bedtime snack:
- A bowl of whole-grain low-fat cereal with milk
- Granola with yogurt
- Half a turkey
- Peanut butter sandwich
- Apple pie and ice cream
- One banana with or followed by a glass of milk.
Avoid these foods that prevent sleep
- Avoid a protein-rich meal without carbohydrates at night because such a meal contains tyrosine, which will perk up your brain and cause difficulty in falling asleep.
- Do not have an all-simple carbohydrate snack containing junk sugars, because it will not let you sleep. Such foods include raw sugar, candy, corn syrup, and high-fructose corn syrup, glucose, fructose, and sucrose, fruit juice concentrate and soft drinks.
How these foods disturb your sleep?
Firstly, because with these foods, you will miss out on the tryptophan benefits of inducing sleep and secondly, this will set off rising blood sugar levels followed by increased stress hormones, which will increase your stress and not let you sleep.
Therefore, your ideal bedtime meal should contain complex carbohydrates, tryptophan, calcium, magnesium, and a few proteins.