Can what we eat and drink affect how well we sleep? According to science, yes. Since today is World Sleep Day, we wanted to track down the best foods and beverages to help us catch some zzzs. So we turned to HelloFresh Nutrition Associate Meghan Dillon, MS, RDN, CDN.
Turns out certain foods and drinks can increase the body's natural production of melatonin. Not to mention activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms while enabling rest and relaxation. Although there are certain foods that should be avoided before bedtime.
"Despite the probiotic health benefits found in pickled or fermented foods, these items should be avoided before bed because they contain a substance which may impair sleep," explains Dillon. "These foods contain the amino acid tyramine, which causes the adrenal gland to stimulate our sympathetic nervous system sending our body into fight or flight mode. Having our sympathetic nervous system activated before bed can increase the amount of time it takes to fall asleep as our body does not feel calm and sufficiently relaxed to drift into sleep."
Here are seven food and drink options to help you get some quality shut-eye.
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This Thanksgiving staple contains the amino acid tryptophan, which turns into serotonin upon consumption. Then it gets converted into melatonin. Other foods that contain tryptophan include milk and flaxseeds.
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Craving a hot beverage before bed? Opt for a cup of chamomile tea. The caffeine-free option contains the antioxidant apigenin that induces muscle relaxation while prepping your body for dreamland.
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It's not just an old wives' tale. Warm milk really does help you go to sleep. Like turkey, milk contains the amino acid tryptophan. By warming the milk, it's believed that the heat helps raise the body's temperature thereby increasing circulation and encouraging relaxation. Plus, milk also contains vitamin B6, a nutrient required to make melatonin.
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These tasty treats offer melatonin. While sweet cherries are great, you should favor the tart kind since they boast anti-inflammatory properties that combat sleep-disturbing inflammation.
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