Guest post by Nora Minno, Aromatherapy Associates Eat, Move Wellbeing Ambassador
While the importance of sleep may be evident, it may leave you wondering, what can I do in my everyday life to sleep better? While there are important lifestyle factors that can contribute to good sleep hygiene, including regular exercise and reducing screen time before bed, nutrition can also play a role in getting better sleep. Below are some foods that contain important nutrients known to improve sleep quality and quantity:
Green Leafy Vegetables
Leafy greens like spinach and kale are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two important vitamins for eye health. These vitamins, which are part of the carotenoid family, can help prevent eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration and have been shown by studies to improve sleep quality. They can also help absorb damaging blue light from screens that can disturb the sleep-wake cycle and sleep patterns. Other foods that are rich in lutein and zeaxanthin include eggs, carrots, broccoli, and corn.
You might love kiwi for its bright flavor profile, but did you know it could help you sleep? A recent study done in Taiwan shows that those who consumed kiwi on a daily basis had improvements in sleep quality and quantity. The exact mechanism for how kiwis might improve sleep health is unknown, but their high antioxidant concentration might be a contributor.
Studies have shown that tart cherries can help with sleep. One study showed that consuming 8oz of tart cherry juice in the morning and nighttime for 2 weeks was associated with reduced insomnia severity and another similar study showed that supplementation of tart cherry juice increased melatonin levels.
Not only are legumes rich in fiber and protein, but they also contain the mineral magnesium, which has been shown to improve sleep in adults. Magnesium can help increase GABA, a neurotransmitter that improves sleep and reduce anxiety. Other dietary sources of magnesium include green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, quinoa, and avocado.
Don’t forget that staying hydrated can help your sleep quality. A lack of fluids can dry out your mouth and nasal passages which could disturb your sleep through snoring or coughing. Poor hydration status could also contribute to nighttime leg cramps, which can disrupt your sleep.
At the end of the day, it’s important to approach sleep health from a holistic point of view and look at how a number of different lifestyle factors, but know that what you eat can affect how you sleep. Aim for a diet rich in a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and lean proteins and reduce the amount of processed fatty, salty, or sweet foods in your diet.