8 foods that will help you sleep better


(SHAPE) - Can’t sleep well? Try incorporating these foods in your diet.

Needless to say, sleep is important for overall health. But when faced with factors such as high-stress levels that may affect sleep, it is not every day that you can get the quality shut-eye you desire. Here are eight foods that help you sleep better.

1. Cherries


Cherries contain natural sources of melatonin, a hormone that helps control your sleep and wake cycles. According to a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, an experiment conducted on adults with chronic insomnia revealed that tart cherry juice consumed over a period of two weeks reduced the severity of insomnia. Eating a handful of cherries can help kickstart the production of melatonin in your body for a good night’s sleep.

2. Nuts 


Like cherries, nuts contain the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin. Nuts are also a good source of magnesium, which has been said to improve sleep quality. A study published in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences revealed that insomnia among elderly improved when they were supplemented with magnesium.

3. Chamomile tea 


This popular herbal tea is associated with many health benefits. Aside from its ability to boost your immune system and reduce anxiety, chamomile tea also promotes relaxation. Unlike some other teas that contain caffeine and may keep you awake, chamomile tea is caffeine-free and contains apigenin, an antioxidant that can reduce insomnia for better sleep quality. In an experiment conducted by researchers from the University of Michigan, it was found that individuals who consumed chamomile extract twice daily for 28 days fell asleep faster than those who did not consume it.

4. White rice 


Due to its high glycaemic index (GI) score, we are often told to avoid white rice and choose brown rice instead. A high GI score means that your body processes it quickly, often leading to that afternoon slump after lunch. Eating foods with high glycaemic index a couple of hours before bedtime may be able to give you better sleep quality. According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a high-GI meal was able to shorten the time sleep sets in compared to a low GI meal. However, you should consume white rice in moderation as it is less nutritious compared to whole grains.

5. Kiwis


Studies have shown that kiwis contain many compounds that can benefit your health. These include antioxidants and serotonin, which may be useful to treat sleep disorders. Researchers from Taipei Medical University conducted an experiment and found that individuals who consumed two kiwis an hour before bedtime slept more and slept better than those who didn’t. This is likely due to serotonin found in the kiwis, which helps to regulate your sleep cycle.

6. Bananas 


Potassium and magnesium found in bananas are natural muscle relaxants, which can help put your body into a sleepy state. They are also loaded with vitamins, minerals and fibre to keep your blood sugar level steady so you can avoid any mood swings and be at ease before bed.

7. Meat


The essential amino acid tryptophan can be found in most meat. Tryptophan is used as precursor for serotonin, a brain chemical that plays a part in relaxation. It is also used to make melatonin for you to get a night of solid, uninterrupted rest. Incorporate your favourite meat with a complex carb like brown rice for dinner and you should feel the sleep-inducing effect by bedtime. 

8. Milk 


You may have heard that drinking a glass of warm milk before bed will help you sleep well. While this is true, it is not due to the tryptophan that most people associate milk with. Rather, it is the psychological association of warm milk and good sleep that helps you to feel at ease before you sleep. The calcium found in milk also helps to produce melatonin. Not to mention, the nice warm feeling in your belly when you down that glass of milk. All these factors work to induce relaxation and sleep.