According to a recent poll by the National Sleep Foundation, 63 percent of Americans say their sleep needs are not being met during the week. Whether your lack of shut-eye is due to a difficult job, a stressful environment or jet lag, not getting enough quality sleep can lead to serious health problems, including depression and heart disease. But before you reach for that prescription sleep aid, take a look at what you’re eating. Here are eight foods rich in sleep-inducing ingredients that can naturally help you get more z’s.
Fish is rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that raises serotonin levels that are needed to make melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that helps to control your sleep and wake cycles. In addition, most fish cod, salmon, halibut, tuna, trout, and snapper provide vitamin B6, which is also needed to make melatonin. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that participants who ate tryptophan-rich foods showed a reduction in sleepiness and sustained alertness early in the morning, most likely due to improved sleep overnight.
There may be something to that old adage that a glass of warm milk will help you sleep. Dairy products like yogurt, milk and cheese are rich in melatonin-boosting calcium, and a number of studies are finding that being calcium-deficient may make it difficult to fall asleep.
Cherries, especially the tart varieties, are one of the few food sources of melatonin, the sleep hormone that regulates your internal clock. In one small study, participants drank eight ounces of tart cherry juice in the morning, and another eight ounces in the evening, for two weeks and reported better sleeping habits.
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