If only there were foods that help you sleep, you could do more of two of your favorite things (sleep and eat!), right?
I mean, you banished your iPhone from your bedroom. You swore off sugary treats post dinner. You added lavender candles to your bedroom scent. You even have the most comfy Essentia bed ever.
Yet, you still can’t get enough shut-eye—and it’s annoying. Really annoying. Your lids are shutting mid-meeting and you’re wasting cash on workouts you’ve signed up for and skipped. You just don’t feel your best.
Well, I’ve got a little secret for you. Science tells us that just like there are healthy foods that help you feel energized and ready to take on the world, there are also foods that help you sleep, which means you will indeed be able to take on the world the next day. It’s a beautiful cycle.
Here are my top 10 foods that help you sleep
1. Almonds + Cashews
These go-to nuts contain magnesium, a mineral which acts like a natural sedative. Even a small deficiency in magnesium can lead to trouble in the sleep department.
Try 1 slice of ezekiel toast with 2 teaspoons of almond or cashew butter with a sprinkle of cinnamon as an afternoon snack.
Not only pretty (and my favorite color!) and deliciously tangy-tart, they’re chock full of vitamin C which can help relieve stress. Vitamin C-rich foods have been shown to help your body recover faster from stress, and fewer rattled nerves may mean a mellower slumber.
Try 2 dried apricots (sans sugar and sulfur) cut up and added to your afternoon Greek yogurt. Be mindful of the higher calorie count of dried and go for fresh if you have trouble controlling portions.
These green stalks are famous for helping us cleanse but they are also high in folate. Folate is essential for a healthy cardiovascular system and has been linked to anxiety and mood regulation, both which can affect our slumber.
Drizzle a little avocado oil over a few stalks, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, and pop in the oven at 400°F for about 15 min. Top with a drop of balsamic vinegar. YUM.
Sweet and creamy, this fruit is a source of melatonin, a sleep hormone, as well as potassium, which helps normalize heartbeat.
Try banana “ice cream” (pureed frozen bananas) topped with 1 tablespoon chopped peanuts for a perfect night time sweet fix.
5. Chamomile Tea
Made from a tiny European flower in the daisy family, this tea, with its soothing mild flavor, is an age-old remedy for soothing yourself to sleep. Some health experts insist it can be more effective than sleep medications.
Get in the habit of sipping slowly a cuppa chamomile nightly with a drop of steamed almond milk.
Particularly swiss or cheddar, cheese is a good source of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that encourages the release of melatonin. The hormone melatonin helps to decrease the time it takes to fall asleep, increases sleepiness and may also increase the amount of time you spend asleep.
An anytime snack is 1 ounce of cheddar and apple slices.
The smell screams “apple pie,” but researchers have shown that nutmeg improves blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and it’s also earned a reputation as a home remedy for menstrual cramps and anxiety.
Sprinkle nutmeg on your morning oatmeal or afternoon apple.
Carbohydrates make tryptophan, an amino acid important for sleep, more available to the brain. Popcorn is a whole grain and packed with fiber, so you digest these carbs more steadily, making it a perfect night time snack.
Air pop this movie time fave and sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese, cinnamon or sea salt and pepper for amped up flavor in your popcorn bowl.
9. Tart Cherries
Considered a symbol of immortality in ancient China, this fruit is loaded with anthocyanins, an important type of antioxidant that lowers inflammation, as well as cholesterol and triglyceride levels. But they’re sleeping beauties, too, since cherries are a natural source of melatonin.
Mix 1 tablespoon dried tart cherries with 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds to use as an oatmeal topper or anytime snack.
Scientists are also studying the effects of omega-3 supplementation on mood because these wonderful fatty acids are the building blocks of the brain. There is also evidence that omega-3 fatty acids can fight depression, improve sleep and boost libido.
Salmon is super versatile and can be enjoyed any time of day. Go cured or raw and enjoy a lox breakfast or sashimi lunch, or try it dehydrated as turkey jerky for an on-the-go snack, or pop it in the oven with some lemon and dill for a quick and healthy dinner.
So there you have it: 10 foods that help you sleep better, which gives you energy to work out the next day, motivates you to eat healthier and stay hydrated, helps you stress less and nurture yourself, and helps you love more and live consciously. And that, my friends, is living your most Nutritious Life.
Happy, healthy eating!