Getting a good night's sleep may be as easy as enjoying a little bedtime snack. Many foods are rich in naturally occurring sleep-regulating hormones including melatonin, magnesium, tryptophan and serotonin.
Move over turkey! Sample the snacks on our list and settle into a serene slumber.
1. Dark Chocolate
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Dark chocolate is not only delicious but contains serotonin, which relaxes your body and mind, AND magnesium, which regulates circadian rhythms and helps muscles relax, so you get restful sleep. Extensive research has proven over and over that levels of magnesium rise and fall as cells undergo the 24 hour circadian rhythm. Indulging in just one square of yummy dark chocolate nightly can significantly contribute to better sleep. Not to mention the many other health benefits this treat contains including: rich in antioxidants, improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure, raises HDL and protects LDL against oxidation.
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Almonds are loaded with tryptophan and magnesium, which both help to naturally relax muscles and steady your heart rhythm.
Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, medical director of the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers, and author of the bestselling book From Fatigued to Fantastic! is all about almonds, "They contain magnesium, which promotes both sleep and muscle relaxation. And they have the added benefit of supplying proteins that can help maintain a stable blood sugar level while sleeping, and help promote sleep by switching you from your alert adrenaline cycle to your rest-and-digest cycle."
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Another snack rich in melatonin is cherries. Make them a part of your nightly routine and they can help regulate the body's internal clock and sleep-wake cycle. If cherries aren't your cup of tea, try a glass of tart cherry juice. A team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and University of Rochester discovered that cherries, particularly tart cherries, naturally boosted the body's supply of melatonin, which helped people with insomnia. Several studies have now confirmed that this tasty little fruit not only increase the duration of sleep but also the quality. And, added bonus: they are also an anti-inflammatory.
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Avocados have not one but four vitamins and minerals that promote sleep: tryptophan, magnesium, calcium, and B6. Some of these substances help the body produce melatonin as well. Good news for guac fans! Plus, their high amounts of unsaturated fat can increase your serotonin levels, the chemical that stimulates the part of your brain that induces sleep.
5. Cottage Cheese with Raspberries
Photo Credit: James and James Food Stills in Motion
Cottage cheese is the perfect late night snack for insomniacs because it is high in lean protein AND packed with the amino acid tryptophan, which may increase serotonin levels. As we've touched on above, serotonin is a brain chemical and low levels of it can contribute to insomnia. Add a little extra flavour to this dish with fresh raspberries. They are rich sources of melatonin.
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Hummus is also packed with a combo platter of naturally sleep inducing something. It is a good source of tryptophan and vitamin B6, a necessary component in the production of melatonin, which helps control the sleep-wake cycle. You can have it on it's own or with raw veggies such as broccoli or carrots, low in calories and a complex carbohydrate that also helps with sleep.
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