Dr. Kitzmiller treats patients everyday for sleep issues, specifically snoring and sleep apnea. However, a lot of his patients also complain in the dental chair that they have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. After doing some research, he came across some common sleepy foods that may help you sleep a little more soundly at night. Try to incorporate some of these healthy options into your family’s evening meals and see if they help your slumber!
Natural substances found in sleepy foods:
Vitamin B6 – B vitamins are essential on a daily basis, especially when it comes to a healthy night sleep. B6 (or pyridoxine) is used to make serotonin which in turn helps release melatonin. Melatonin ultimately helps your circadian rhythms, or your body’s “internal clock”. B vitamins also help produce antibodies which can help your body fight off sickness while you sleep. Some great foods containing B6 would be: fish (salmon, halibut, tuna), bananas, chickpeas, and raw garlic.
Calcium – Calcium is a huge factor in sleep as it is found in the body at its highest concentrations during REM sleep. Calcium also works alongside of tryptophan in order to release more melatonin. Therefore, when you’re experiencing a calcium deficiency, you are more likely to have a restless night sleep. Some great ways to help increase your calcium levels would be eating foods like: dairy (milk, yogurt), and leafy greens (kale, spinach).
Magnesium – Magnesium works great alongside of calcium in helping to promote a healthy night sleep. Magnesium helps with the function of GABA (a calming neurotransmitter) that basically helps the brain “turn off” at night and prepare for sleep. The biggest factor magnesium helps with is the deactivation of adrenaline, especially at night. Many studies have suggest magnesium (best when combine with calcium) can be consumed in foods like: whole grains (bulgar, barley), almonds, beans, and green leafy vegetables.
Tryptophan – I’m sure you’re well aware of the magic behind tryptophan if you’ve ever experience “food coma” after Thanksgiving dinner. Tryptophan is a naturally produced amino acid that helps make serotonin and melatonin. A tryptophan deficiency has led to things like depression, insomnia, anxiety, and even sleep apnea. Consuming even 1-2 grams of tryptophan before bed can help with more time spent in REM sleep (the recovery sleep stage) and prevent mid-night awakenings. Great foods containing tryptophan would be: turkey, walnuts, and seafood.
Last night, Lori tried to incorporate a number of these into her family’s dinner. We’re not sure if everyone slept better (it is a full moon this week!), but the healthy combinations were delicious!
What we had for dinner:
- Cod coated in a mixture of Panko bread crumbs and parmesan; bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until done.
- Winter Kale Salad:
- Toss thinly sliced kale leaves (stem removed) and thinly sliced Brussels sprouts.
- Top with 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, 1 sliced green onion, 1 pear (peeled and sliced), and blue cheese crumbles.
- Dress with a light Balsamic dressing or your favorite salad dressing.