Nutritional Nightcaps

Natural Sleep Aids From Your Pantry
by NatureBox Nutritionist Kat Brown, MS RD RYT 

The National Sleep Foundation reports that as many as 60% of Americans suffer from at least a few poor night’s sleep per week. Lack of sleep not only affects mood and concentration but recently has been linked to metabolic factors than can lead to increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.

We’ve all heard about a glass of warm milk before bed, but is there any truth to the folklore? Let’s check out some evidence-based, time-tested tips for eating to get better sleep.

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Certain foods contain tryptophan, which is manufactured into drowsy-making serotonin and melatonin. So, yes, the warm milk theory has some truth behind it, as milk has a moderate amount of tryptophan. Nuts, seeds and eggs are also high tryptophan foods.  Other dairy products besides milk also hit the tryptophan mark, and when paired with high carbohydrate foods you just might hit a home run for sleep. Some sleep-inducing evening treats are:

  • Cereal and milk
  • Nuts or cheese with crackers
  • Oatmeal made with milk.

Aim for a light evening snack about an hour before bed for the most benefit.

Research shows that having a moderate serving of high glycemic index, simple carbohydrate-rich foods at your evening meal also can help you to get to sleep sooner. So consider having that baked potato or French bread at dinner if you have a big meeting at work tomorrow and need to rest up!

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Starting a soothing evening regimen can also be important for sleep. A warm cup of tea can help you feel more relaxed, and some teas, such as chamomile and ginger, are touted for aiding digestion. These can be helpful if you find an upset stomach keeps you from being able to sleep.

Lifestyle factors that can help you drift off to sleep easier include:

  • Avoiding caffeine after lunchtime, 
  • Getting some physical activity during your day
  • Dialing down stimulating tech devices and television before bedtime, 

Feel refreshed in the morning and say goodbye to the snooze button! Give it a shot with these simple remedies to help with those elusive 40 winks. 

Let’s chat: What ways (food related or not?) do you use to wind down at night?

Kat Brown MS RD RYT is a San Francisco Bay Area based Registered Dietitian and Yoga Teacher. As a nutrition counselor, writer, cook, and yogini she seeks to inspire others to nourish themselves and live balanced, fulfilled lives. 

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