Updated: Aug 26
A good night’s sleep is essential for the repair and regeneration process in the body for good health. Research shows that lack of good sleep makes us vulnerable and causes us to seek out high calorie foods the very next day. This results in disrupted sleep cycles and overall poor health.
Deep sleep ensures a good recovery from the daily wear and tear. It not only rejuvenates the body and mind but also keeps one away from any ailments. It strengthens our immune system, as well as helps in kick-starting the day on a right note.
It’s like a reset button given as a gift to us by nature.
Food and health goes hand in hand. “Superfoods” refer to foods that offer maximum nutritional benefits for minimal calories. They are packed with a variety of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Here is a healthy way of eating that will help your body feel more ready to call it a night.
Top 8 superfoods that promote better sleep:
1. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea has calming and soothing effects which induce sleep. Make sure you are not allergic to flowers related to the family of daisies as Chamomile may be contaminated with pollen from other plants which can cause an allergic reaction.
Kiwis just aren’t good for boosting your immunity as they are filled with anti-inflammatory compounds but are also rich in serotonin and antioxidants, both of which improve sleep quality when consumed before bed. A small study conducted showed that after four weeks of eating two kiwifruits one hour before bedtime, people reported an easier time falling asleep, slept for a longer period of time and had better sleep quality. So, kiwi consumption may improve sleep onset, duration, and efficiency in adults with sleep disturbances.
Nuts such as walnuts, cashews, pistachios and almonds have melatonin, along with zinc and magnesium, which together can help people get a better night's sleep.
A recent study has shown that people who sleep less than 5 hours do not consume enough of the mineral selenium and thus suffer from sleeping issues. Reach for a handful of Brazil nuts, eating just two per day can ensure your body is meeting the minimum requirements for this nutrient.
Extracts and teas are both common forms of passion flower put to use. In our practise at Functional Medicine Clinic, we use passion flower extract, along with other tools, for children and adults struggling with sleep issues. It has shown a high efficacy in calming down the hyperactivity of children who are on the spectrum (Autism Spectrum Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
5. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin Seeds not only make for a healthy delicious crispy snack but also help promote sleep as they are loaded with magnesium and glycine. Magnesium helps relax our brain and body and Glycine is an amino acid and neurotransmitter which helps by lowering body temperature so that one can fall asleep faster and for a longer period of time, which increases the quality of sleep.
6. Almond Milk
A glass of lukewarm almond milk not only relaxes our body but also promotes sleep as almonds are rich in melatonin. Avoid adding sugar which is known to cause sleep disturbances.
7. Yogurt/ Curd
Yogurt is rich in GABA, an amino acid that helps you relax and sleep better. Fermented foods help in increasing microbial diversity, which is also linked to good quality sleep. Sugar is known to disrupt sleep so avoid adding sugar to your yoghourt.
Bananas are rich in potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6, tryptophan and fibre, all of which improves sleep quality via different mechanisms. Bananas are even more encouraged for people that suffer from insomnia.
Essential oils and Aromatherapy to improve sleep
Not everyone is a midnight snacker, so this is popular among people who want an external sleep aid rather than consuming something. Inhalation of the vapours of essential oils derived from chamomile flowers or lavender flowers is recommended to relieve anxiety, restlessness and general depression. Some people use lavender as dried herb in a tea or in their pillow. It must be kept in mind that the essential oils should be diluted in a neutral cream or oil for use on the skin or the oil can be diffused into the air but it must never be ingested.
Are you getting enough sun?
Melatonin is the sleep hormone, produced by the pineal gland at night. It regulates sleep–wake cycles and circadian rhythms in humans. Melatonin is also necessary for regulating our immune system as well. Serotonin is the precursor to melatonin, it gets converted to melatonin in darkness. Serotonin is released by getting regular exercise or by going out in the sun. Your health is likely going to suffer, if you're not spending enough time outside in the sun everyday. So go out in the sun and enjoy the sunshine and a better quality sleep at night.
A sedentary indoor lifestyle, low nutrient diet, excess blue light exposure play an important role when it comes to insomnia or sleep issues. It is important to look at health in a holistic way. Make sure you are addressing these factors also if you are struggling with poor sleep.
If you need help with losing your stubborn weight, reach out to us at Functional Medicine Clinic!
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4. St-Onge MP, Mikic A, Pietrolungo CE. Effects of Diet on Sleep Quality. Adv Nutr. 2016;7(5):938-949. Published 2016 Sep 15. doi:10.3945/an.116.012336