12 Sleep-Promoting Fruits and Vegetables To Help you Fall Asleep Faster
Research shows that our circadian rhythms never fully adapt to daylight saving time, and this transition is especially difficult for nocturnal birds.
This annual sleep disorder is related to how our bodies produce melatonin, the hormone that regulates when we feel sleepy and awake.
The more we are exposed to light, the less melatonin we produce. After dark, we increase melatonin production to prepare our brains for sleep. Our internal clock is controlled by the sun but designed to gradually adapt to changing seasons.
As the sun rises and sets suddenly an hour shifts in the night – and it seems out of nowhere – our clocks are running at full speed.
Some fruits and vegetables contain small amounts of melatonin (as well as other sleep-enhancing chemicals such as tryptophan and magnesium) that help you calm down and fall asleep faster.
They’re not a cure-all for insomnia, but incorporating some into your dinner can make summer time a little less painful.
12 fruits and vegetables that will help you fall asleep faster
Bananas are a good source of vitamin B6, which increases levels of serotonin (a relaxing neurotransmitter that affects sleep quality), as well as potassium and magnesium, which help relax overworked muscles. (If you can’t sleep because of Restless Legs Syndrome, a magnesium deficiency is often the cause.)
Fruits also contain the amino acid tryptophan, which the body converts into serotonin and melatonin.
Oranges can increase melatonin in your body by about 47 percent, but that’s not the only reason to eat them.
They are also a great source of B vitamins, which aid sleep in a number of ways: reduce anxiety and depression, improve sleep-wake cycle regularity, and support the synthesis of serotonin, dopamine, and GABA (a sleep aid). promotion of neurotransmitters in the brain).
Tomatoes are rich in the phytonutrient lycopene, which helps you sleep.
Your body absorbs lycopene more easily when heated with less fat, so sauté a pot of tomatoes on the stove with a drizzle of oil and a handful of basil.
Carrots are packed with alpha-carotene, which is closely linked to better sleep. In fact, they are the most potent source of carotenoids, followed by pumpkin. Eating carrots in any form (raw, cooked, or juiced) can help you fall asleep when counting lambs is no longer an option.
Recent research on kiwis has found that this small, oval-shaped fruit can improve sleep quality. In this study, people who ate two kiwis an hour before bedtime fell asleep faster, slept longer, and had better quality sleep.
Although the reason is still unclear, kiwifruit is thought to contribute to sleep with its high serotonin levels, ability to correct folate deficiency, and several antioxidant properties.
At the risk of sounding cheesy, kale is actually good for you — and your sleep.
This is because cabbage is packed with calcium, which helps the brain use tryptophan to produce melatonin.
The same goes for all dark leafy vegetables, especially collards, spinach, and broccoli. (If you grow broccoli at home, don’t throw away the vegetables—the broccoli leaves are edible!)
Speaking of basil, various medicinal herbs – holy basil, also known as tulsi – have long been used as holistic remedies for sleep problems. It’s not the sweet basil you sprinkle on your noodles or the cinnamon basil used to spice up Vietnamese dishes.
Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) is known to calm the mind, lower cortisol levels and treat depression. It is a sacred plant in Ayurvedic medicine, but is also a common herb in Thai cuisine, where it is known as Thai holy basil, or kaprao.
So how can you incorporate more of these foods into your diet? In addition to being added to Thai recipes (where a spicy, nutty, clove-like flavor enhances all those rich flavors), holy basil leaves can be dried and used in teas. Soak the leaves in hot water and drink a cup before bed to help you fall asleep.
Don’t miss edamame when you’re at a Japanese restaurant – soybeans in their natural state are an excellent source of calcium and rich in tryptophan.
New research has also found that soy isoflavones (estrogen-like compounds in plants) may contribute to longer sleep (at least seven to eight hours a night) and better sleep quality.
If you need a good reason to choose salad over soup for your dinner, lettuce contains lactucarium, a milky secretion that has calming properties and is commonly referred to as poppy lettuce.
It is found in varying amounts in the stems of many types of lettuce, including garden lettuce (Lactuca sativa) and especially wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa).
Avocados are rich in magnesium, which is sometimes referred to as the sleeping mineral.
If you are deficient in this essential mineral, you may have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.
Adding magnesium-rich foods to your diet will help promote slow wave or restful sleep because magnesium is a natural relaxant that helps deactivate adrenaline. As a result, you wake up more refreshed than after a good night’s sleep.
With more melatonin-boosting benefits than bananas, pineapples are a sweet choice for relieving insomnia or jet lag.
A study measuring the amount of aMT6-s in the body (a marker of circulating melatonin) found a 266 percent increase in melatonin after subjects ate pineapple (compared with a 180 percent increase with bananas and a 47 percent increase in oranges).
Also, pineapple helps with digestion when you are tossing and turning at night due to stomach problems.
Cherries (especially sour cherries such as the Montmorency variety) are the only (and highest) natural food source of melatonin.
Studies show an increase in circulating melatonin after eating cherries, even though sweet cherries contain half as much melatonin as sour cherries.
When fruit is out of season, try a glass of cherry juice instead. (Dried cherries, on the other hand, do not contain melatonin.)
Milk (and other dairy products such as cheese) are good sources of tryptophan, an amino acid that supports a healthy sleep cycle. A glass of warm milk before bed is also a helpful nighttime routine with a calming psychological effect if you are prone to insomnia.
Honey helps your brain release serotonin through a series of amazing transformations. A few tablespoons of honey taken before bed increases insulin levels, which releases tryptophan in the brain. Tryptophan is converted to serotonin, which is then converted to melatonin.