Sustained energy throughout the day is a coveted goal for most people. Waking up feeling rested and having the energy to navigate a daily routine is not always easy to accomplish. Trying to fit in exercise, good nutrition, and adequate sleep can be difficult to attain especially when many healthy foods may be contributing to daytime sleepiness. Most people realize that simple, refined sugars and processed foods provide a quick boost followed by zapped energy. A repeated cycle of eating this way is bad for overall health. But there are some everyday, healthy foods that may also be contributing to sleepiness.
Bananas contain both magnesium and potassium. Magnesium and potassium naturally aid in relaxing the muscles and help to foster sleep. Magnesium works with the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to promote feeling calm and relaxed. Magnesium also regulates melatonin, a hormone essential for sleep.
Oatmeal is a very nutritionally dense, powerhouse food. Full of fiber and antioxidants, oatmeal is a staple in healthy breakfast eating, and it offers many health benefits. However, it can also be sleep promoting. Oatmeal contains magnesium, which, as mentioned above, helps to relax the body. But it also contains melatonin, a hormone needed for sleep and to balance circadian rhythms, which is the body’s natural wake/sleep cycle. If the oats are cooked with milk for extra protein, tryptophan is added to the mix. So, while oatmeal is extremely healthy and nutritious, it may be causing a bit of sleepiness in the morning.
Cherries are a popular summertime fruit. Sweet and tasty! Cherries, tart cherries specifically, contain high levels of the hormone melatonin. As mentioned earlier, melatonin is essential for a healthy sleep cycle. Melatonin is produced in the pineal gland in the brain, and levels rise and fall with periods of light and dark within a 24-hour cycle. In a recent study, it was found that drinking tart cherry juice aided in raising melatonin levels, providing for longer and more efficient sleep.
A salad with dinner could speed up your bedtime since lettuce contains lactucarium, which has sedative properties and affects the brain in ways similar to the way opium affects the brain. Over time, the amount of lactucarium has lessened in the lettuces we purchase at the grocery store, but wild lettuce still contains higher amounts.
A great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acid, salmon is also rich in vitamin B6. B6 aids the body in melatonin production. As mentioned earlier, melatonin regulates the sleep cycle.
Eggs, Milk, Potatoes, and Poultry – Tryptophan
Tryptophan is an amino acid found in both plant and animal sources. It is an essential amino acid, meaning the human body cannot synthesize it on its own; it must be consumed as a food. After the body has absorbed tryptophan, it is converted into serotonin, melatonin, and B6, which are all important for a healthy sleep cycle. Tryptophan is found in many foods eaten every day, such as raw almonds, eggs, milk, bananas, and poultry. Tryptophan truly helps to promote sleep quality and enhance your mood.
Awareness of how the body may be responding to these foods is important. Additionally, each individual may have a different response to increases in any of these nutrients. Eating a banana before bed may just help you drift into a peaceful slumber.