Restful sleep is absolutely essential to a properly functioning body and mind. Studies have shown that inadequate sleep lowers the immune system, throws blood sugar levels off-balance, and interferes with digestion, detoxification and even weight loss.
One study found that less than seven hours of sleep per night decreases our ability to fight cold and flu viruses by 300 percent.
A healthy, full night of sleep has many restorative properties. Along with a stronger immune system and a slimmer waistline, sleep promotes mental clarity, lower blood pressure and youthful-looking skin. One key to a great night’s sleep lies in the foods you choose eat in the evening.
The combination of protein and healthy fats aid your body in stabilizing your blood sugar throughout the night, and allow your liver to release stored sugars as needed – very important for quality sleep. Add the following healthy, delicious choices to your supper to enjoy optimal snoozing.
Chickpeas, natural yogurt and leafy greens: Excellent in hummus, or roasted in stews, chickpeas are laden with vitamin B6, a key ingredient in the body’s production of melatonin. Melatonin is a sleep-promoting hormone produced in pineal gland of the brain.
The production process of this hormone is signaled by darkness, and is how your brain tells your body that it is time to sleep. Along with maintaining daily body rhythms, melatonin is a powerful antioxidant shown to be key in fighting cancer.
Yogurt, along with other dairy products, is filled with healthy saturated fats that promote restful sleep. Additionally, it is rich in calcium. Insufficient levels of calcium have been shown to cause difficulty falling asleep. Dark, leafy greens such as collard greens and kale are also high in calcium, and are important to restful sleep for this same reason.
Dandelion greens give an added boost, as they are associated with liver-cleansing properties. A healthy liver promotes balanced blood sugar levels, and also aids in hormonal balance.
Fish, flax seeds and almonds: Like chickpeas, fish such as salmon, tuna and halibut contain high levels of vitamin B6 and consequently aid in melatonin production. These types of fish, along with flaxseeds, are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to elevate mood, keeping your bedtime worries at bay. Also try adding some almonds to your dinner plate; they are a good source of magnesium, which relaxes the muscles.
Organic, free-range turkey, pumpkin seeds and tart cherry juice: Ever wonder why Thanksgiving Dinner makes you especially sleepy? Turkey is a great source of tryptophan, the amino acid used by the body to create serotonin.
Studies have shown that people who awaken often throughout the night and have trouble staying asleep often have low serotonin levels. Dairy products, almonds and pumpkin seeds also contain varying levels of tryptophan. Pumpkin seeds also have the added benefit of zinc, which aids the brain in converting tryptophan into serotonin.
Tart cherry juice, a delicious choice for a dinner beverage, is rich in melatonin. In one small study, adults with chronic insomnia drank a cup of tart cherry juice twice per day, and reported that their symptoms were somewhat less severe over time.
For dessert, try bananas, which are a great source of vitamin B6, and sip a cup of soothing chamomile tea. Sweet dreams!
-The Alternative Daily