Top 10 Superfoods To Help You Sleep Like a Baby

2. Milk Milk has long been a staple in the average person’s diet, and is one of the most consumed beverages throughout the world. Milk is… Elizabeth Lilian - February 8, 2017

Sleep is one of the most important things we do each day. It has a hugely vital role in our health and well-being and ensuring we get enough of it can help our bodies and minds reach their maximum potential. But for some, sleep is not easy to come by.

According to the American Sleep Association, one in 10 adults will suffer from chronic insomnia. So if you’re one of those people that struggle to get to sleep, here are 10 superfoods that might just help you.

1. Cherries

These sweet or sour little stone fruits are absolutely bursting with flavor and nutrients. There are many different varieties, but the two main types are wild, or sweet cherries, and sour, or tart cherries. Originating in Asia, it’s believed that cherries were carried across to Europe by birds, where they became popular in many different cultures.

Cherries are very low in calories, and very high in healthy phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. Full of antioxidants like anthocyanins, which give cherries that bright red color and have been shown to contain cancer-preventing properties, and cyanidin, a phytochemical that can have anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity and anti-diabetes effects. Cherries are a good source of iron, zinc, potassium, manganese and copper, and are said to relieve arthritis pain, reduce belly fat, and lower the risk of gout and stroke.

Cherries are also an effective, natural sleep aid. They are full of melatonin, which is a powerful antioxidant that helps to calm inflammation and plays a large role in the regeneration that occurs in our bodies while we sleep. Melatonin is produced and secreted by the pineal gland, which has learned to adapt to environmental signals such as light and dark, which is why we tend to get sleepier as night falls.

If you’re having problem sleeping, try adding cherries to your diet. There are many different ways you can do this, as cherries are a great addition to a variety of foods. You can make cherry chutney as a side dish to your dinner, bake them in a pie for an after-dinner dessert, or just keep a bowl on your bench to snack on throughout the day. Frozen cherries are an easy way to get your melatonin fix because they never go out of season and you can add them easily to your smoothies.

2. Milk

Milk has long been a staple in the average person’s diet, and is one of the most consumed beverages throughout the world. Milk is produced by the mammary glands of mammals, but cow’s milk is the most common. All mammalian offspring are fed solely by milk for the first few years of their lives, and humans are the only mammals that continue drinking milk into their adult years.

Although lactose, the sugar in milk, is unable to be properly digested by the majority of people, milk has many health benefits. Different types of milk have become much more popular throughout the years, especially milk alternatives such as soy milk, almond milk and coconut milk, which are lactose-free and easier to digest.

Cow’s milk is a rich source of calcium, which is a highly beneficial mineral that supports strong bones and teeth. It’s also a rich source of potassium, which is associated with vasodilation (the dilation of blood vessels) and helps to reduce blood pressure. Milk contains tryptophan, the key ingredient to serotonin (also known as the calming chemical), and is widely thought to be the reason why milk has a tendency to make us sleepy.

To make milk an even more effective sleep aid, warm it up before you drink it. Warm milk will raise your internal body temperature, which will make you feel calm, relaxed, and sleepy. If you don’t like the taste of milk, add some cinnamon, honey or nutmeg for an extra flavor boost.

3. Jasmine Rice

Jasmine rice, also known as Thai fragrant rice, has been a hugely popular ingredient in many different dishes due to its deliciously nutty flavor and flowery aroma. Discovered by a Thai farmer in the 1950s, it quickly became a mainstay of the Thai diet and spread all over the world.

Jasmine rice comes in either brown or white varieties, and both have many nutritional benefits. It’s full of protein, carbohydrates, fiber, iron and low in fat and sodium. The fiber in jasmine rice is insoluble, which aids digestion by moving food quickly through the digestive tract. It also contains vitamins and minerals that benefit the skin and is a great source of energy.

Jasmine rice is believed to be an effective sleep aid, as one 2006 study found. Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that when participants ate high-glycemic-index rice with dinner, they fell asleep faster than those who ingested lower-glycemic-index rice. High-GI foods mean the body digests them at a slower speed, which releases glucose gradually into the bloodstream. Similarly, it boosts production of tryptophan and serotonin, which encourages sleep.

Adding jasmine rice to your diet is simple. Rice is extremely easy to make and can accompany most other foods. It’s the base ingredient in delicious recipes such as risotto, pilaf, paella and sushi, or as a side dish with chicken, beef, pork, or seafood. You can even include it in your dessert by making rice pudding.

4. Bananas

Bananas are one of the most popular, nutritious fruits in the world. They belong to the plant class Musa and are grown in over 100 countries. It’s believed that they originated in the Philippines, New Guinea and Indonesia but the first bananas were vastly different from what they are today, being only the size of an adult finger and nowhere near as tasty.

Bananas are rich in phytonutrients and contain bioactive plant compounds like dopamine and catechin. They’re also rich in pectin, which is a fiber that may moderate blood sugar levels and reduce appetite by slowing the speed in which the stomach empties itself. Unripe bananas contain resistant starch, which acts as a probiotic and aids the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.

Bananas are a great source of energy-producing carbohydrates, as well as vitamin B6, vitamin C, fiber, manganese and copper, which are all beneficial to good health. Bananas contain almost no fat, cholesterol and salt, which makes them an effective weight-loss food. They also maintain bowel regularity, promote normal heart function and support eye health.

Bananas are thought to induce sleepiness because they are full of potassium and magnesium, minerals that act as muscle relaxants. They also contain tryptophan, that valuable amino acid that’s so helpful in helping us drift off. Bananas are easily eaten as a before-bed snack. But if you’re not a huge fan of the taste, you can include them in many healthy snacks like bread, muffins and smoothies.

5. Tuna

Tuna is a saltwater fish belonging to the mackerel family and is one of the most consumed fish species. There are many different species of tuna, and they’re usually found in temperate and subtropical waters. Tuna is listed as an endangered species and numbers are decreasing in some parts of the world – especially in Japan and Australia – due to over-fishing.

Once you know the health benefits of tuna, it’s easy to see why it’s such a popular choice. Tuna is capable of reducing cardiovascular issues, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, boosting the immune system, increasing energy, maintaining healthy skin, reducing inflammation, aiding weight loss, increasing red blood cell count, and protecting against various kidney diseases.

Tuna doesn’t contain much-saturated fat or sodium and is an ideal replacement for fattier meats like beef. They are an impressive source of many vitamins like vitamin B12, niacin, and riboflavin, and are full of other nutrients and minerals like selenium, phosphorous, iron, magnesium, and potassium.

Tuna can aid sleep because it is rich in vitamin B6, which is essential in making melatonin, that all-important sleep hormone. Tuna is a delicious, cheap and easy addition to your diet. You can include it in a salad, on a sandwich, in a casserole, with pasta, or straight from the can.

6. Almonds

Almonds, though largely believed to be a nut, are actually botanically considered a stone fruit or a drupe, similar to cherries, peaches and plums. Almonds have been mentioned throughout history going as far back as the Bible and were an important ingredient in bread made for Egyptian Pharaohs. Native to the Middle East, India and North Africa, almonds are more than a delicious snack; they’re used as a component in many different dishes, as well as in milk, flour, butter, and oil.

Almonds are full of health benefits. They contain biotin, vitamin E, manganese, copper, vitamin B2, phosphorus, fiber and more. Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats and have been associated with a reduction in risk of heart disease. Research has found that they promote healthy blood vessels, reduce blood pressure and improve blood flow. Almonds also help maintain healthy hair, skin and teeth, and they contain riboflavin and L-carnitine, which have been shown to increase brain activity.

Almonds are rich in tryptophan and magnesium, so they are a natural muscle relaxer. And, the protein in almonds will help keep you fuller for longer, so you won’t wake up hungry. Almonds also help regulate sugar levels in the blood, which aids the body in getting more restful sleep.

To add more to your diet, you can include them in your breakfast, as a side dish or sliced and sprinkled over the top of oatmeal or yogurt. For lunch, you can chop them up and toss them with a salad, and replacing your milk and butter with almond varieties will up your intake even further. You can eat a handful before bed, either plain or mixed with dried cherries and coconut flakes.

7. Fortified Cereal

To clarify, fortified breakfast cereal is not the same as regular cereal. When food is fortified, it means extra vitamins and minerals have been added to enhance the nutritional value. For example, vitamin D can be added to milk, B vitamins are often added to pasta and bread, and vitamin A is added to staple food items like rice and oils.

Fortified cereal can include many different varieties, like oatmeal, cornflakes, and porridge. They are fortified with nutrients like calcium, iron, vitamin D, folic acid, riboflavin and niacin. Including fortified cereals in your diet is a surefire way to get boost of vitamins and minerals that you may otherwise be lacking. One cup of fortified oatmeal can give you almost 80 percent of your recommended daily iron intake.

Fortified cereal is high in vitamin B6 so it aids production of melatonin, much like tuna. It’s also a complex carbohydrate that boosts tryptophan in the bloodstream. When we sleep, we still burn energy, and it’s important to replenish that energy when we wake up. A bowl of fortified cereal soon after you wake up is the best way to get a good, long-lasting boost of energy.

When you’re shopping for fortified cereal, be sure to read the nutritional values on the box. The amount of vitamins and minerals can still vary, so make sure you get the cereal that contains the largest amounts. Fortified cereal can also be a suitable pre-bedtime snack. Include that with some fortified milk to make it even more healthy.

Also Read: Best Late-Night Snacks and Foods That Will Improve Sleep Quality.

8. Hard-Boiled Eggs

People have been eating eggs for as long as anyone can remember. They are eaten all over the world in huge numbers, and while chicken eggs are the most widely consumed, many different cultures consider eggs from other animals like ostrich, duck and even fish eggs to be a delicacy.

Eggs contain the highest quality of protein available, and they’re one of the few foods naturally high in vitamin D. Eggs are effective in aiding weight management, lowering risk of heart disease, and contain two powerful antioxidants – lutein and zeaxanthin – that support healthy eyes and may help prevent macular degeneration. According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition researchers found that eating an average of 1.3 egg yolks per day for 4.5 weeks increased levels of lutein by almost 50 percent, and zeaxanthin by up to 142 percent.

Eggs are considered to be one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. One large egg contains only 77 calories, 5 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein and all 9 essential amino acids. Eggs also contain high levels of tryptophan, so hard-boiling an egg before bed will allow your body to create more melatonin and induce a good night’s sleep.

When you include eggs in your diet, make sure you choose those that have been enriched with omega-3, and if you can, select free-range eggs. Not only are free-range eggs a more conscious choice, it’s believed that they are of better nutritional value than their caged counterparts, and are higher in vitamin D and vitamin A.

9. Lettuce

It may surprise some, but lettuce is actually a member of the daisy family. Believed to have been first cultivated in ancient Egypt and used as a symbol of fertility, there are many different varieties of lettuce grown and enjoyed all over the world. Among the most popular types are butterhead, Chinese, romaine, iceberg, and cos lettuce.

No matter what type of lettuce you prefer, it’s almost a guaranteed powerhouse of vitamins and nutrients. 100 grams of fresh lettuce leaves can give you 247 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A. Lettuce is also a rich source of vitamin K, vitamin C, and folates. They are an impressive source of phytonutrients and with 100 grams of lettuce containing only 15 calories, they are a worthwhile addition to anyone’s diet.

Lettuce is believed to help you sleep because it contains lactucarium, the milky fluid from the stem, which is actually an opiate with mild sedative and analgesic properties. So for a good night’s sleep, enjoy a thick, lettuce-filled sandwich or tossed salad a few hours before bedtime.

Alternatively, you can brew yourself a cup of lettuce tea to help with insomnia. Simply wash your lettuce leaves (romaine is the best choice) and simmer in water for 20 minutes. Strain into a cup, drink and enjoy each night before bed. The lettuce and the warm water will help you relax and get to sleep easier.

10. Herbal Tea

People have been using herbal teas (also known as tisanes) in many cultures for centuries, dating all the way back to ancient China. It’s widely thought that tea originated in China during the Shang Dynasty in 1500 BC as a medicinal drink. Tea has been an important part of Asian culture as a beverage, medicine and status symbol, and became popular in Britain during the 17th century.

Tea can be made from boiling fresh or dried flowers, leaves, seeds or roots, and are regarded as a key to good health, happiness and wisdom. There are many varieties of herbal tea, from chamomile, cinnamon, dandelion, ginger and peppermint to hibiscus, rosehip, and rooibos. Each kind of tea acts as a great source of flavonoids and other healthy components and can benefit our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being in various ways.

As herbal tea gained popularity in the west, more and more has been studied on its effects and benefits. Some teas may help with cancer, heart disease, diabetes and weight loss. According to a study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, tea has been found to have beneficial effects on diabetes, skin cancer, prostate cancer, and lung cancer, as well as enhancing cardiovascular and metabolic health.

There are many different types of herbal tea that can help you get to sleep, and you are bound to find one whose taste you enjoy. Valerian root, chamomile, lemon balm, banana, lavender, ginger and turmeric and cinnamon are just a few of them.

Getting enough sleep is essential to a healthy lifestyle. You simply cannot live your best life if you aren’t getting adequate sleep. But now that you’ve got 10 new ways to try to get some sleep, what are you waiting for? Go to bed.