Not getting enough sleep is associated with weight gain and puts you at higher risk for obesity. With more than 30 percent of people suffering from insomnia, lack of sleep is an official public health problem and it’s affecting America’s waistband. All hope is not lost! Here are 5 foods to load up on either throughout the day or as a nighttime snack to help you get more zzzz's effortlessly.
The first step to getting more sleep is mastering the art of falling asleep. Tropical fruits like bananas, pineapple, oranges and also tart cherries all have high levels of natural melatonin producing compounds. Melatonin is the hormone that plays an important role in regulating your sleep/wake cycle. For a no-fuss bedtime snack, try slicing up a sweet, ripe banana, or freeze bananas in advance and blend them up with your favorite add-ins for a homemade, all-natural, creamy ice cream.
Research has proven that people who eat more fiber experience deeper and more restorative stages of sleep. By getting a restful sleep, you will actually feel re-energized the next day. High-fiber crackers are a great dinner component to help you feel full and satiated, as well as setting you up for success when it’s time to get some shut eye. Pair your crackers with low-fat cheese for the perfect protein-carb ratio, all while keeping dinner light.
This natural herb has a calming effect on the nerves and can actually help induce sleep. Chamomile comes along with a host of other benefits like relieving gastrointestinal symptoms, boosting heart health and preventing inflammation. The best part is that chamomile tea is virtually calorie-free, and its natural sweet undertone means you don’t need to add any sweeteners. For the best results, try using loose tea instead of tea bags.
Almonds are an excellent source of magnesium, which can help promote a better quality sleep. The quality not just the quantity of your sleep is important, as it affects the hormones that control feelings of hunger and fullness during the day. We all know that the more tired you feel, the more likely you are to make impulsive food choices. A handful of almonds can do just the trick but limit your portion to about 14 almonds, 100 calories, since these calories tend to add up fast.
Salmon, Tuna, Halibut
These fish choices are chockfull of vitamin B6, which can be converted to melatonin and serotonin in the body. Serotonin induces feelings of happiness and relaxation, making it easier for you to unwind from your day, while melatonin not only helps you fall sleep, but promotes a higher quality sleep, leaving you feeling more rested than ever. These fish choices are the perfect option for a protein packed dinner and they can all be easily seasoned and prepared to your liking.
Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books: The F-Factor Diet and The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber.