Sleep is vital to daily performance and energy. Unfortunately, most adults do not get adequate nightly sleep. According to sleep experts, adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep per night — many people are lucky to get six hours per night.
While stress contributes to restless nights, you may not realize that diet also has a lot to do with your quality of sleep. There are several nighttime snacks you can incorporate into your diet to improve your sleep habits.
Eating either cold or hot oatmeal at night can help prepare you for sleep. While typically looked at as a breakfast meal, oats contain melatonin and magnesium. Melatonin is the sleep hormone, and magnesium contributes to the function of the nervous system, including the regulation and relaxation of neurotransmitters.
Having a serving of oatmeal in the evening can help you sleep through the night. You can also increase the effectiveness of oatmeal by combining it with other beneficial sleep foods, like bananas or nuts.
Fruit also has many beneficial nutrients that contribute to sleep quality. For example, oranges, bananas, and pineapples can increase melatonin production. Tart cherries also contain melatonin and have been shown to improve sleep when consumed about an hour before bed. Finally, kiwis can promote sleep when eaten about one hour before bed; studies suggest kiwis helped people enhance sleep quality, allowing them to sleep longer and fall asleep faster.
Another typical breakfast food, yogurt, can contribute to a better night’s sleep. A serving of yogurt contains essential B vitamins and magnesium, which contribute to improved sleep. Additionally, yogurt contains calcium, which can result in restorative sleep. Calcium can also make falling asleep easier. Finally, the snack contains the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid or GABA, which is essential in calming the body and preparing it for sleep.
Tryptophan is an amino acid linked to sleep quality. The substance aids in the production of serotonin and melatonin to improve sleep, and it is found in the nut and seed family. Pistachios, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds are excellent sources of tryptophan.
Cashews are also considered beneficial to sleep. The nuts contain potassium and magnesium, helping manage sleep cycles.
5. Banana and Almond Butter
As magnesium is believed to play a role in managing human and animal time-keeping systems, it is beneficial to consume snacks containing the mineral before bed. Combining a serving size of a banana and almond butter provides about 100 milligrams of magnesium, the recommended amount for improved sleep.
This snack is also beneficial for sleep quality in women. Potassium is especially helpful for women regarding sleep, and bananas are a potassium-rich food.
Too many people operate on too little sleep. Finding ways to incorporate the above snacks into your evening routines can help improve your sleep quality. However, nothing compares to an established nighttime routine.
Turning off electronics an hour before bed and dimming the lights can help prepare your body for rest. Additionally, setting a time for sleep and waking up creates patterned responses in the brain and body.
However you go about getting adequate sleep, it is important you are getting enough. If you struggle to sleep and have a nightly routine, consider adding one or more of the bedtime snacks above. If you still struggle, talk to your physician.