Foods that enhance sleep include:
Healthy Fats–such as coconut oil, organic and pasture-raised meats, eggs, avocado, and butter all help provide your body with the necessary building blocks to manufacture sleep hormones. Be aware that coconut oil can also act as a stimulant for some people, so its use needs to be monitored.
High Antioxidant Foods are important for hormone production and removal of toxins that can impede sleep. Focus on leafy vegetables, high-nutrient fruits, and herbal or green teas (green tea early in the day only, as it contains caffeine).
Quality Proteins, especially at dinner: For your best shot at sleep, it is best to stop eating at least 4 hours before bedtime, and preferably by 6 p.m. every night. Your evening meal should include proteins, vegetables, and healthy fats. Cut back on carbohydrates. Eating enough protein at this meal will help prepare the body to enter the sleep cycle.
While going to bed hungry isn’t advisable (who can sleep with all that gurgling!) eating too close to bedtime is also not advisable, as it can make you feel bloated or create other stomach discomforts. Laying down immediately after eating can also contribute to and create acid reflux issues.
Eating these foods a while before bed can help you drift off:
⋅ Cherry juice—contains melatonin. The tart form is best for sleep.
⋅ Milk–works well warm or cold. The fresh Tryptophan in it helps.
⋅ Jasmine rice (or a carb with a high glycemic index) metabolizes slowly. This helps your body not work so hard and perhaps get your mind to a state of calmness.
⋅ Natural complex carbs. Including cereal (low sugar content), barley, quinoa, buckwheat, or yogurt (plain with a little fruit and honey). Some will argue that no carbs or yogurt are good near bedtime. I tend to agree with that (i.e., yogurt tends to have a lot of sugar in it), but there are exceptions.
⋅ Bananas—contain calcium and magnesium; both promote sleep.
⋅ Turkey–think Thanksgiving snooze. Again, it’s the Tryptophan.
⋅ Sweet potatoes (yams)–a complex-carb superfood that contains sleep-promoting, muscle-relaxing potassium. Other potassium-rich foods include regular potatoes with the skin on, lima beans, papaya, and, of course, bananas. Relax into your future. Now.
Do you wake up consistently at 2-3 a.m. and have a hard time getting back to sleep? Eat a small bit of protein right before bed. A dozen almonds for example. A drop in insulin has been shown to wake people up, and a bit of protein helps stabilize blood sugar levels.