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Do You Know Eating The Right Kind Of Food Can Actually Help You Sleep?

Do You Know Eating The Right Kind Of Food Can Actually Help You Sleep?

Have you ever laid in bed, exhausted from the day’s activities, and yet still can’t fall asleep?

Do you wake up in the middle of the night and find it hard, impossible even, to get back to sleep?

Have you tried cutting out caffeine and other stimulants from your diet, and still can’t sleep?

Have you resorted to prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids to get you through the night?

If you have trouble sleeping, you aren’t alone. It’s estimated that over 20 million Americans experience some form of sleep problems, and over 40 million suffer from a chronic sleep condition. From trouble falling asleep to the inability to enjoy a full night’s rest, there exist more than 70 different sleep disorders that force many people to seek intervention. But most people don’t consider that, aside from sleep aids, there are many foods to help you sleep.

Why Try Foods Over Other Treatments to Help You Sleep?

Losing a night or two of sleep doesn’t seem like a big deal for most people, but too many sleepless nights can quickly take a toll on many aspects of your body. Lack of sleep can affect your mood, focus, physical appearance, and memory, and can ultimately lead to an increased risk in heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.

These are serious consequences, but are ones that can be avoided when you introduce enough of the right foods into your diet.

People who continuously experience sleep troubles often turn to mainstream medicine to get quick relief. Doctors can prescribe medications that can make you sleep, or you can grab an over-the-counter sleep remedy. These seem like viable options to people who are desperate for any amount of sleep, but medications also come with their own sets of risks, like dependency, that might make you worse off than if you had forgone them altogether.

Prescription drugs and supplements often carry some type of dependency risk factor, tricking your body into lowering its own natural production of chemicals that help induce sleep. Sometimes, sleeping pills can help you get such an incredible night’s sleep that you’ll never want to go to bed without them again. But long-term use isn’t usually recommended.

Granted, most people know that foods and drinks like soda, coffee, and chocolate can greatly boost your inability to fall asleep, even when your body feels tired. But just as there exists stimulating edibles to keep you alert and moving, there are also several foods to help you sleep.

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And unlike potentially addicting sleeping pills, these foods are 100% safe, non-addicting, and prescription-free.

Before you make a mad dash to the pharmacy to help you catch your zzz’s, try incorporating some of these foods to help you sleep more soundly:

Walnuts

    Walnuts are a solid source of the amino acid Tryptophan, which helps produce serotonin and melatonin to help you sleep. Each 1-ounce serving of walnuts contains about 170 mg of tryptophan, so about 5-6 servings would equal that of an OTC supplement. In addition, the high quantity of tryptophan in walnuts can also help subside some of the moodiness generated by lack of sleep.

    Researchers from the University of Texas discovered that walnuts contain their own source of melatonin, another chemical in the brain responsible for helping you sleep. Melatonin is available as an OTC supplement, but walnuts help you get it naturally.

    This dessert recipe is chock full of walnuts.

    Turkey

      Another food rich in tryptophan, there’s a reason why people want to snooze right after a hearty Thanksgiving meal. Turkey contains between 250-310 mg of tryptophan per 3-ounce serving, which is about the size of a pack of playing cards.

      Granted, most other meats contain about the same amount of tryptophan as turkey. But turkey, being a lean meat rich in protein, iron, zinc, and potassium, can also give you the benefit of better skin and teeth (due to the high amount of phosphorus) and lower cholesterol.

      Make your own mouth-watering turkey with this recipe.

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      Cheese, Milk & Yogurt

        You may have heard that a glass of warm milk can help you sleep, but honestly any dairy products can do the trick. Calcium-rich cheese, milk and yogurt helps the brain use the tryptophan to create sleep-inducing melatonin.

        Here’s a recipe for yogurt you can make in your own kitchen.

        You need calcium in your diet regardless of your sleep habits. Calcium can help prevent bone damage or loss, and helps regulate your muscle movement. It’s recommended that you take in between 1,000 mg to 1,200 mg of calcium daily. Eight ounces of plain, low fat yogurt typically contains around 475 mg of calcium, while an 8-ounce glass of milk yields around 276 mg. Don’t take more than 500 mg of calcium at each meal, and be sure you take it with some Vitamin C to increase absorption.

        Cherries

          It’s been found that all varieties of cherries are high in melatonin, which is crucial in inducing sleep. The best way to get your fill is to drink a glass of tart cherry juice or eat one cup of whole cherries before you turn in for the night.

          In addition, cherries can have a positive effect on joint pain and arthritis. If pain caused by arthritis is the culprit keeping you up at night, cherries could help alleviate both problems.

          Try this recipe for Sparkling Cherry Juice.

          Tuna

            Boasting even more trytophan than turkey, fish such as tuna, cod and halibut can help you sleep. A four-ounce portion of yellowfin tuna packs more than 300 mg of tryptophan. Try this yellowfin tuna recipe.

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            In addition, you can also get the added benefit of essential Omega-3 fatty acids that can help with depression, hypertension, joint pain, and arthritis.

            Honey

              The natural sugars in honey give your insulin levels a slight boost, which helps tryptophan easily enter your brain. Honey helps build a steady supply of glucose to get your body through the night, and contributes to melatonin release.

              Add a spoonful of honey to your chamomile tea, or slurp it straight from the spoon to set yourself on a path to a more restful sleep.

              This recipe combines honey with yogurt and fresh fruit to give you a tripe threat in combating sleeplessness.

              Chia Seeds

                They might be tiny, but chia seeds pack about 202 mg of tryptophan into every two-tablespoon serving. Chia seeds are also rich in calcium, another helpful aid in sleeping.

                Add a sprinkling of chia seeds to any of the above recipes. It doesn’t change the flavor, but will give you all the benefits.

                Pretzels

                  Pretzels produce a spike in blood sugar and insulin levels, which reduces the time it takes you to fall asleep. Just like with honey, this burst also helps tryptophan enter your brain.

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                  You can buy pretzels at the store, or make your own healthier pretzels at home with this recipe .

                  Rice

                    Rice’s high glycemic index will, just like honey and pretzels, helps shorten the time it takes you to arrive in dreamland.

                    Both brown and red rice are high in tryptophan, with about 101 mg of it in each half-cup. Brown rice is also a good source of calcium and magnesium, two essentials that can promote a better night’s sleep.

                    This recipe combines trytophan-rich turkey and rice into one tasty dinner.

                    Bananas

                      Packed with potassium and magnesium, bananas can provide a quick remedy to help you get your nightly rest. A deficiency in magnesium has been attributed to relestless leg syndrome (RLS) and nighttime muscle cramps, two common occurrences that can hinder your night’s sleep.

                      You can get 32 mg of magnesium in a single banana, but you will need around 310-320 mg of magnesium per day to avoid deficiency.

                      This fun recipe for banana rice pudding combines bananas, rice and calcium-rich rice milk, three foods that can help you sleep.

                      Featured photo credit: parkimedes via youtube.com

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                      Last Updated on November 9, 2020

                      10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

                      10 Real Reasons Why Breaking Bad Habits Is So Difficult

                      Bad habits expose us to suffering that is entirely avoidable. Unfortunately, breaking bad habits is difficult because they are 100% dependent on our mental and emotional state.

                      Anything we do that can prove harmful to us is a bad habit – drinking, drugs, smoking, procrastination, poor communication are all examples of bad habits. These habits have negative effects on our physical, mental, and emotional health.

                      Humans are hardwired to respond to stimuli and to expect a consequence of any action. This is how habits are acquired: the brain expects to be rewarded a certain way under certain circumstances. How you initially responded to certain stimuli is how your brain will always remind you to behave when the same stimuli are experienced.

                      If you visited the bar close to your office with colleagues every Friday, your brain will learn to send you a signal to stop there even when you are alone and eventually not just on Fridays. It will expect the reward of a drink after work every day, which can potentially lead to a drinking problem.

                      Kicking negative behavior patterns and steering clear of them requires a lot of willpower, and there are many reasons why breaking bad habits is so difficult.

                      1. Lack of Awareness or Acceptance

                      Breaking a bad habit is not possible if the person who has it is not aware that it is a bad one.

                      Many people will not realize that their communication skills are poor or that their procrastination is affecting them negatively, or even that the drink they had as a nightcap has now increased to three.

                      Awareness brings acceptance. Unless a person realizes on their own that a habit is bad, or someone manages to convince them of the same, there is very little chance of the habit being kicked.

                      2. No Motivation

                      Going through a divorce, not being able to cope with academic pressure, and falling into debt are instances that can bring a profound sense of failure with them. A person going through these times can fall into a cycle of negative thinking where the world is against them and nothing they can do will ever help, so they stop trying altogether.

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                      This give-up attitude is a bad habit that just keeps coming around. Being in debt could make you feel like you are failing at maintaining your home, family, and life in general.

                      If you are looking to get out of a rut and feel motivated, take a look at this article: Why Is Internal Motivation So Powerful (And How to Find It)

                      3. Underlying Psychological Conditions

                      Psychological conditions such as depression and ADD can make it difficult to start breaking bad habits.

                      A depressed person may find it difficult to summon the energy to cook a healthy meal, resulting in food being ordered in or consumption of packaged foods. This could lead to a habit that adversely affects health and is difficult to overcome.

                      A person with ADD may start to clean their house but get distracted soon after, leaving the task incomplete, eventually leading to a state where it is acceptable to live in a house that is untidy and dirty.

                      The fear of missing out (FOMO) is very real to some people. Obsessively checking their social media and news sources, they may believe that not knowing of something as soon as it is published can be catastrophic to their social standing.

                      4. Bad Habits Make Us Feel Good

                      One of the reasons it is difficult to break habits is that a lot of them make us feel good.[1]

                      We’ve all been there – the craving for a tub of ice cream after a breakup or a casual drag on a joint, never to be repeated until we miss how good it made us feel. We succumb to the craving for the pleasure felt while indulging in it, cementing it as a habit even while we are aware it isn’t good for us.

                      Overeating is a very common bad habit. Just another pack of chips, a couple of candies, a large soda… none of these are necessary for survival. We want them because they give us comfort. They’re familiar, they taste good, and we don’t even notice when we progress from just one extra slice of pizza to four.

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                      You can read this article to learn more: We Do What We Know Is Bad for Us, Why?

                      5. Upward Comparisons

                      Comparisons are a bad habit that many of us have been exposed to since we were children. Parents might have compared us to siblings, teachers may have compared us to classmates, and bosses could compare us to past and present employees.

                      The people who have developed the bad habit of comparing themselves to others have been given incorrect yardsticks for measurement from the start.

                      These people will always find it difficult to break out of this bad habit because there will always be someone who has it better than they do: a better house, better car, better job, higher income and so on.

                      Research shows that in the age of social media, social comparisons are much easier and can ultimately harm self-esteem if scrolling becomes a bad habit[2].

                      6. No Alternative

                      This is a real and valid reason why breaking bad habits is difficult. These habits could fulfill a need that may not be met any other way.

                      Someone who has physical or psychological limitations, such as a disability or social anxiety, may find it hard to quit obsessive content consumption for better habits.

                      Alternately, a perfectly healthy person may be unable to quit smoking because alternates are just not working out.

                      Similarly, a person who bites their nails when anxious may be unable to relieve stress in any other socially accepted manner.

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                      7. Stress

                      As mentioned above, anything that stresses us out can lead to adopting and cementing an unhealthy habit.

                      When a person is stressed about something, it is easy for bad habits to form because the mental resources required to fight them are not available[3].

                      We often see a person who had previously managed to kick a bad habit fall back into the old ways because they felt their stress couldn’t be managed any other way.

                      If you need some help reducing stress, check out the following video for some healthy ways to get started:

                      8. Sense of Failure

                      People looking to kick bad habits may feel a strong sense of failure because it’s just that difficult.

                      Dropping a bad habit usually means changes in lifestyle that people may be unwilling to make, or these changes might not be easy to make in spite of the will to make them.

                      Overeaters need to empty their house of unhealthy food, resist the urge to order in, and not pick up their standard grocery items from the store. Those who drink too much need to avoid the bars or even people who drink often.

                      If such people slip even once with a glass of wine, or a smoke, or a bag of chips, they tend to be excessively harsh on themselves and feel like failures.

                      9. The Need to Be All-New

                      People who are looking to break bad habits feel they need to re-create themselves in order to break themselves of their bad habits, while the truth is the complete opposite.

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                      These people actually need to go back to who they were before they developed the bad habit and try to create good habits from there.

                      10. Force of Habit

                      Humans are creatures of habit, and having familiar, comforting outcomes for daily triggers helps us maintain a sense of balance in our lives.

                      Consider people who are used to lighting up a cigarette every time they talk on the phone or eating junk food when watching TV. They will always associate a phone call with a puff on the cigarette and screen time with eating.

                      These habits, though bad, are a source of comfort to them, as is meeting with those people they indulge in these bad habits with.

                      Final Thoughts

                      These are the main reasons why breaking bad habits is difficult, but the good news is that the task is not impossible. Breaking habits takes time, and you’ll need to put long-term goals in place to replace a bad habit with a good one.

                      There are many compassionate, positive and self-loving techniques to kick bad habits. The internet is rich in information regarding bad habits, their effects and how to overcome them, while professional help is always available for those who feel they need it.

                      More on Breaking Bad Habits

                      Featured photo credit: NORTHFOLK via unsplash.com

                      Reference

                      [1] After Skool: Why Do Bad Habits Feel SO GOOD?
                      [2] Psychology of Popular Media Culture: Social comparison, social media, and self-esteem.
                      [3] Stanford Medicine: Examining how stress affects good and bad habits

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