It’s common knowledge that you are what you eat, and what you put inside your body is very much indicative of how you’ll feel and perform for the rest of the day. There’s a reason that most of us stopped eating cookies and ice cream for breakfast when we turned 8.
What you probably didn’t know, is that certain foods can make it easier to get to sleep faster at night. Many people have heard about turkey and tryptophan, and aren’t surprised when Thanksgiving dinner has them dozing off before the football game is over; however, they might be surprised to learn that fruits can actually help you get to sleep as well.
Generally, these sleep-promoting fruits work because they are rich in vitamins and minerals that aid the body in it’s production of melatonin, the hormone that is responsible for regulating its circadian rhythm (the cycle of sleeping and wakefulness).
Some of these vitamins and minerals are tryptophan, magnesium, calcium, and B6. Lycopene, a carotenoid, is also a good sleep aid. As bedtime approaches, the body’s melatonin production increases to help get to sleep. In the morning, melatonin production subsides so that the body can become alert again for the day.
It is also possible to get these vitamins and minerals from over the counter supplements, but it is better to get them naturally from fruits that are ingested – and some fruits are naturally filled with these substances.
Here are The 8 Best Fruits to Help You Sleep:
Cherries – One of the best fruits for inducing sleep is the cherry. According to agricultural research, the cherry is one of the only natural sources of melatonin that is available. Because cherries only grow for two months of the year, dried cherries and cherry juice (especially tart cherry juice, which contains less sugar) can be good substitutes.
Grapes -The grape also contains melatonin, but its levels are lower – so you would need to eat more of them to produce the same effect.
Passion Fruit – Studies have also shown that the passion fruit/passion flower can improve the quality of sleep and even reduce insomnia. The juice, but primarily the leaves of the passion fruit contain alkaloids, including Harman, which has properties that lower blood pressure, sedate the consumer, and help to induce sleep.
These alkaloids are also good for treating anxiety, and calming the nerves, which can be another factor in sleeplessness. The sleep benefits of the passion fruit can be gained by eating the fruit, drinking the juice, or even making passion fruit tea, and they can be multifaceted.
Dates – Dates are a dual-action sleep enhancement choice because they contain tryptophan and some fast-acting carbohydrates that allow the tryptophan to take effect, according to studies from the National Institute of Health. This makes them a good choice because they have an internal mechanism to make the sleep inducement more effective. Eating them approximately an hour before bedtime will assist when you are trying to fall asleep. Just don’t eat dates on a big date!
Bananas – Bananas are also a good choice for inducing sleep. The contain tryptophan, which is converted to 5-HTP in the brain, which is in turn converted to serotonin (a relaxing neurotransmitter) and melatonin. They also contain magnesium and potassium. Both of these are good for relaxing stressed muscles. As a bonus, increased levels of potassium also keep you from pulling muscles, so if you’re a tosser and turner you may want to try bananas before bed.
Tomatoes & Watermelon – Both tomatoes and watermelon contain lycopene, and both benefits that are accessed in different ways. Tomatoes should be cooked and eaten with dinner, as this unlocks more of the benefit that the contain. Watermelon, on the other hand, has fewer calories and can be consumed as is at any moment – making it more of a bedtime snack.
Strawberries – Strawberries are great because they are full of antioxidants and vitamins, but it is the vitamins B6 and C in particular that can help in the sleep department. Raspberries are also a good source of B6. Combine either of them with the calcium in a bowl of plain yogurt for a more filling bedtime snack.
Grapefruit – While the grapefruit contains good levels of tryptophan, seemingly making it a good candidate for this list, it also contains high levels of acidity, which seem to cancel out the tryptophan.
The one caveat to grapefruit is that it contains acid that will increase your stomach’s acidity level. This may cause heartburn, which is not always the most pleasant thing to sleep through. Some people say that a glass of grapefruit juice is best before bed, but you should definitely proceed with caution if you’re going to try this one out. You should also make sure that grapefruit will not interact with any medications you may currently be taking.
Basically, fruits can be amazing for your diet and help you fall to sleep quickly and peacefully each night (along with other benefits like lack of muscle strain and increased antioxidants). However, if you’re eating large meals before bed, foods that may cause acid reflux, or a generally unhealthy diet otherwise then the fruits may not do everything you hoped for. A balance is always best.
Nevertheless, so long as a good diet is generally maintained, these fruits can be very helpful when you are trying to fall asleep at night. For more sleep tips ranging on everything from diet to the best mattress, check out the Sleepadvisor.