Good sleep is essential to well-being. Your brain rests, renews itself, and processes the information you’ve gathered during the day. Lack of sleep leads to many issues, not the least of which is blood pressure, hallucinations and weight gain.
But how do you sleep in these stressful times? We’re always worrying about work or family, or watching our screens obsessively. And if your eating habits are let’s say not-so-healthy, then what you eat could be stopping you from sleeping.
I Say Organic decided to figure out how you, and we, could doze off better, perhaps just by changing one thing – what we eat.
Walnuts or protein-rich, heart healthy fats
Walnuts are a good source of tryptophan, an amino acid that helps makes serotonin and melatonin, hormones that determine your sleeping cycles. Unsaturated fats, like the kind found in nuts, not only boost your heart and brain health – they also impact your serotonin, a chemical that helps you sleep better. Nuts like almonds, cashews and pistachios as well as peanut butter bring your serotonin levels down and help you sleep. Almonds are rich in magnesium, which helps you stay asleep longer.
Milk has traditionally been a sleeping aid, over the centuries. But nut milks bring you the advantages without the downsides. Calcium found in nut milks helps the brain use the tryptophan in the milk to produce the sleep-essential hormone, melatonin. So reach out for that glass of warm milk again and zzz.
We know, we know. We’re always trying to get you to salads – but hey, turns out those green monsters don’t just make you healthy during the day, they help you sleep better at night too! Veggies like lettuce, spinach and kale have calcium that help you nod off. Lettuce in particular, is a super-sleep food as it contains lactucarium, a compound that has sedative properties and has an opium-like affect on the brain.
Fruits like cherries and bananas
Yellow, yellow, sleepy fellow? Bananas are full of tryptophan, and cherries naturally boost melatonin levels. Eating these an hour before bedtime could actually bring on bedtime faster.
Rice and other foods with high glycemic index or Honey
With this set of foods, we’d advise moderating your consumption. Foods like rice have high glycemic indexes, which means that after eating them, your blood sugar and insulin levels will spike, letting tryptophan enter your brain and bring on sleep. In particular, jasmine rice makes you sleep faster than other rice types. You could also choose to have a spoonful of honey on its own or in chamomile tea.
I Say Organic Sleep Superstar: Chamomile Tea
At night, hot beverages have that effect on us that we automatically feel sleepy. Of them all, chamomile is the best sleep aid as it is associated with glycine, a chemical that relaxes nerves and muscles and acts like a mild sedative. Peppermint runs a close second as it also helps stomach problems.
Create your own sleep-tea ritual.
- Boil water for the tea.
- Practice a short, slow-breathing exercise, where you’re breathing in through your left nostril and out through your right, relaxing and calming your system.
- Drop your chamomile tea bag or leaves into your hot water. And let steep for up to 2 minutes, depending on how strong you like your tea. Chamomile is caffeine-free, so steeping time only depends on your taste.
- Stir in a spoonful of honey.
- Mug in hand, sit cross-legged on the floor or on your bed and sip your tea slowly. It would help if you could dim the lighting and turn off your screens.
- With each sip, breathe deeply. Empty your mind of all thoughts.
- Put the cup aside and turn in. Good night!
I Say Organic Bonus
Mobile, TV and computer screens emit blue light that wake the brain up. Modern research is suggesting we shut off all screens an hour before bedtime. But sometimes, you end up using your phone because life dictates it. We have a fix! Download apps like Twilight that basically mask your screen with a dim red light to counteract the blue and actually help your body relax.