More than 40% of Americans report problems with insomnia, at least occasionally. Often, the cause can be traced to stress on the job or in the family, or other problems in your life. Regardless of the cause, poor sleep can lead to not only feeling lousy, but also potentially lead to serious health problems like heart disease or depression.
Some people opt to consult their doctor for medications to help the problem, but if you would like to try some natural remedies first, before you start popping pills, learn about these 9 foods that help to promote healthy sleep habits.
Cherries are high in melatonin, which is a hormone that helps to make you sleepy. Drinking eight ounces of tart cherry juice in the evening and again in the morning will help keep your melatonin levels balanced and you will sleep better. If you do not like drinking juice, you can choose to eat one cup of whole cherries instead.
2. Lemon balm
Although considered to be a member of the mint family, lemon balm has many uses. When used in combination with the herb valerian, lemon balm has been shown to help more than 80% of people with mild sleep issues. Try lemon balm by making a tea, steeping 1-2 teaspoons of dried lemon balm with 1 teaspoon of valerian root in one cup of hot water for 5-10 minutes. Check with your doctor before using these herbs, as they may interact with certain medications.
The tryptophan that naturally occurs in fish is a known sedative. Fish like shrimp, cod, tuna and halibut have the highest levels, even more than what is found in turkey. Be careful when choosing seafood, as some varieties are considered to be high in contaminants and pollutants, or may be endangered or overfished. Opt for Pacific cod from Alaska, or albacore tuna that is pole-caught from the US or British Columbia.
Like lemon balm, chamomile is known for its relaxing properties and has been used as an herbal remedy for insomnia for millennia. Animal studies have shown that chamomile can be as effective for mice as tranquilizers. Human studies have shown that chamomile can help those with mild-moderate anxiety issues. Chamomile tea is easy to find, and enjoyable, so consider this option when you need to improve your shut-eye.
Bananas are a perfect snack, and a superfruit that contains high amounts of potassium and magnesium. These are minerals that are known to help with muscle relaxation. Restless leg syndrome, a problem for many with insomnia, is often found to be related to a magnesium deficiency. Eat at least one banana per day if you have sleep problems.
Dairy products contain high levels of melatonin-boosting calcium, and calcium deficiencies are thought to be related to sleep issues. Your grandmother might have been right when she told you that a glass of warm milk can help you get a good night’s sleep!
Spinach also contains high levels of potassium and magnesium, which can help with sleep. Spinach also contains calcium, which promotes good sleep. Because calcium helps the body produce melatonin, spinach can help with sleep. Other leafy greens like Swiss chard, turnip greens, collard greens and kale can also provide similar benefits.
Almonds are also high in magnesium and calcium, which can provide great benefits when it comes to good sleep. Eat almonds plain, or enjoy almond butter on your whole grain toast.
9. Combine carbs and proteins
When you combine carbs and proteins, your body will better handle tryptophan, which helps you sleep better. Protein alone can block tryptophan, but when you combine carbs and proteins, you can enhance the effects.
If you are tired of being tired, and looking for ways to improve your sleep, try adding these foods to your diet!