Trouble Sleeping? Try Natural Sleep Aids and get some rest!
Best foods to help you sleep
Sleep problems can plaque anyone at one time or another. All of us are susceptible to the effects of our work, our lifestyle, our diet and our individual stressors in producing temporary sleep difficulties. There are several short- and long- term treatments for sleep deprivation. One of the most interesting is the dietary changes you can make towards eating the best foods to help you sleep.
The key part your daily diet plays in helping you relax enough to fall asleep is in being able to either stimulate or calm your brain activity before bedtime. Foods you eat contain amino acids and other components that can either help stimulate brain activity or work to slow it down. One of these is Tryptophan, an amino acid that stimulates the brain to produce the neurotransmitters Serotonin and Melatonin, which naturally relax the brain. You can eat foods that increase your Tryptophan levels. You can also eat foods that produce effects that pave the way for Tryptophan to get to the brain. Either or both will help you to get sleepy naturally.
Eating carbohydrates along with foods that provide Tryptophan helps this amino acid become available more quickly to your brain. This occurs because carbohydrates stimulate the body to release insulin. This insulin begins to take all other amino acids out of your bloodstream for use in the muscles but leaves Tryptophan there to travel unopposed to the brain. Once there, it quickly stimulates the brain to produce more melatonin and serotonin, making you sleepy and relaxed. Eating Tryptophan-rich foods therefore becomes more effective when complex carbohydrates are also eaten with them. A peanut butter and jelly Tryptophan-rich foods include but are not limited to poultry, eggs, dairy products, beans and sunflower seeds. Consume milk, cottage cheese, ice cream, cheese or yogurt as a bedtime snack and you are combining Tryptophan and carbohydrates effectively. The calcium in dairy products also aids the brain in utilizing Tryptophan to make melatonin.
Melatonin is one of the sleep-inducing relaxants produced by the brain. You can also get more melatonin by eating cherries, oats or oatmeal, strawberries and bananas. (Melatonin should be avoided by pregnant and nursing women, however, because the effect it has on unborn and nursing babies is not yet fully understood). It also helps regulate the body’s natural circadian rhythm which controls the natural ability to fall asleep at bedtime. Eating oatmeal and bananas triggers additional insulin production. Nuts contain the known muscle relaxer of magnesium. Eating almonds, peanuts, sesame seeds and other nuts as snacks also increases Tryptophan levels. Popcorn boosts serotonin levels (but leave off the salt and butter or cooking oil). Some people find a glass of wine can relax them enough for natural sleep. Wine does actually contain Tryptophan and has enough sugar in it to produce the change additional insulin makes in clearing the bloodstream for fast transmission to the brain.
In order to aid the effects of eating the best foods to help you sleep, there are a few important tips to remember. It takes approximately one hour for Tryptophan to reach the brain so eat your evening snack at least an hour before you plan to retire for the night. Eating a high protein meal but skipping adding carbohydrates to the menu may actually keep you awake because protein-rich foods contain tyrosine, an amino acid that revs up the alertness of the brain. Eating spicy foods late in the evening may produce excess stomach acid, leading to heartburn and painful acid reflux symptoms that will keep you awake. If you consume any caffeine during the day, expect its stimulate effects to last at least eight hours or more. With the necessary changes to your daily diet, you will sleep easier and better.