Sleep is an essential component of good health. Poor sleep negatively affects the heart and brain function, weakens the immune system, and increases the risk of obesity and diabetes. Therefore it’s crucial to maintain good sleep quantity and quality. Poor sleep can be caused by many things including improper diet. Find out which foods to eat before bed and drinks can worsen your sleep and which ones may help you get a good night’s sleep.
Best Drinks and Foods to Eat Before Bed
If you sometimes experience insomnia, try to include the following products in your daily menu:
Bananas are rich in potassium and magnesium. These are the substances that act as natural muscle relaxants. They help the body relax before bed. In addition, bananas contain the amino acid tryptophan which is involved in serotonin synthesis (a neurotransmitter that also promotes muscle relaxation). And serotonin turns into melatonin (sleep hormone).
One study found that after consuming two bananas, the level of melatonin in the blood rises by four times. It takes about an hour before tryptophan reaches the brain, therefore it’s best to eat this fruit an hour before bedtime. A banana before bed is the best choice.
Almonds are rich not only in protein but also in magnesium which provides muscle relaxation and makes falling asleep easier. In addition, almonds are a great source of melatonin and can reduce levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that inhibits sleep. Studies show that almonds have a sedative and hypnotic effect.
Cherries are the natural source of melatonin. Various studies showed that adults with insomnia who drank cherry juice before bedtime slept one and a half hours longer than those who didn’t consume cherries. In addition, their sleep was better.
4. Chamomile tea
Chamomile tea contains a substance called apigenin which contributes to drowsiness and helps with insomnia. One study showed that people who drank chamomile extract twice a day for a month fell asleep 15 minutes faster and were less likely to wake up in the middle of the night compared to those who didn’t drink chamomile tea.
Those who regularly drink chamomile tea also have a lower risk of depression which also leads to sleep problems. But keep in mind that if you have sleep problems caused by depression, you should first visit a primary care physician or psychologist. Your doctor will help you fight the cause of your insomnia, that is, depression and will return you to a normal life.
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Kiwi contains a large amount of serotonin which has a relaxing effect and helps us fall asleep faster. In one experiment, participants were asked to eat two kiwis an hour before bedtime every night. Researchers noticed that the time required for the participants to fall asleep was reduced by 35%, and sleep quantity and quality increased.
Serotonin in kiwis also reduces cravings for carb-rich foods. Therefore, if you eat kiwis before bed you won’t have the urge to snack in the middle of the night.
Oatmeal contains a lot of melatonin and selenium. Actually, the lack of selenium often causes sleep problems. Oatmeal is also rich in tryptophan, as well as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, and potassium that also contribute to healthy sleep.
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Milk contributes to good sleep because it contains tryptophan. It is also an excellent source of calcium which regulates melatonin production. If you wake up at night and cannot fall asleep, drink a glass of milk mixed with honey. Experiments(1) have shown that the milk-honey mixture improves sleep quality.
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Worst Drinks and Foods to Eat Before Bed
If you constantly experience insomnia or have trouble falling asleep, you shouldn’t consume the following drinks and foods before bed.
Caffeine helps us cheer up, reduces our ability to fall asleep, and lowers the overall sleep time. This substance continues to have a negative effect even six hours after its use.
However, caffeine is not only found in coffee and is contained in other products like chocolate, energy drinks, and some medicines. You can even find caffeine in certain black and green teas.
Each person reacts differently to caffeine. Some may drink a large mug of coffee at night and sleep well. Therefore, if you notice you can’t fall asleep after a cup of coffee then try not to consume coffee four hours before bed.
2. Fatty foods
Experiments show that people who eat a lot of fatty foods in the evening have worse sleep than those who eat non-fatty foods before bed. Foods rich in fat may not only reduce sleep quality and lead to difficulty in falling asleep but also cause heartburn and indigestion.
However, oily fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, and mackerel, on the contrary, help to fall asleep. One study found that people who ate Atlantic salmon before bed fell asleep faster than those who ate chicken, beef or pork.
Ethanol has a bad effect on REM sleep cycles during which we see dreams. Since your body regains strength during these sleep cycles, alcohol can interfere with it and can make you fatigued. In addition, prolonged alcohol consumption may disrupt your circadian rhythms and lead to insomnia.