Tossing and turning, you look at the clock realizing a couple of hours have passed since you first laid in bed. Then, you think about the few hours you have left to sleep before the alarm goes off. Isn’t it a frustrating feeling? It is natural for our body to drop off and enter a pleasant state of rest and altered consciousness after more or less 12 hours of being awake. But for many people, this naturally, reiterant process is a desperate, daily struggle they hardly achieve.
There are many reasons why people struggle to fall asleep. In some cases, it could be because of odd schedules or lots of travels. In others, because of high levels of adrenaline in their lifestyle; such is true for teachers, singers, actors, public speakers, etc. And in most of us, it’s simply because we are human beings living in a hectic, busy world of constant stress and poor nutrition. No matter which the cause, there are solutions that do not involve side effects. They are safe and they have proven to solve the issue. The key might be hidden in what we ingest.
We know foods shape every part of ourselves; how we look, how much energy we have, how healthy we are, and also how well we sleep. But not all foods induce sleep, there are some that actually keep us awake. So what foods can help induce sleep?
First, let’s understand how melatonin works. Melatonin is a hormone produced in the pineal gland located in the brain, and it is a very powerful antioxidant. It is considered a magical hormone, more potent than vitamin C and E. Melatonin is only released during the night because that is when we need it. It makes possible for our body to replace about half a billion cells that we lose during the day. Melatonin combats the free radicals that attack healthy cells. This amazing hormone is anti-cancer and anti-aging. Low levels of melatonin can cause restless nights and a less competent immune system. This would make the body more prone to diseases and even heart complications.
We can help our body in the production of melatonin by ingesting certain fruits. Despite the minimal amount of melatonin they contain, they could be helpful. Natural forms of melatonin are found in cherries, bananas, grapes, oranges, pineapples, herbs, olive oil and cereals like rice.
Meals rich in carbohydrates make us sleepy. When carbohydrates are digested, they set off a chain reaction producing insulin that triggers the supply of tryptophan. Tryptophan is related to serotonin that soothes us and is light sensitive. This neurotransmitter triggers melatonin which is in charge of controlling our biological clock. Foods high in carbohydrates are pasta, grains, brown rice and oatmeal. Foods rich in tryptophan are bananas, avocado, walnuts, soy protein, and brown rice.
Vitamin B6 is necessary to produce serotonin and continue with the process we already know. Pistachio nuts, tuna, turkey, dried fruit (prunes), lean beef, spinach, avocados, among many others are a great source of Vitamin B6.
So as we can see, our body systems are interconnected and dependent. Next time you find yourself sleepless at bedtime, instead of going to the drugstore, you might want to consider revising your nutrition and opt for a long term solution. Selecting the right, healthy foods can make you have a good night sleep and this means a more rejuvenated body, a better mood and a happy, healthy feeling.
This article was written by Angelica Figuero. Angelica studied the psychology of sleep in college and has since become a lead researcher at SaatvaMatteress.com.