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JDP FITNESS is on hand with our top 12 super foods to help you sleep. 

You’ve brewed countless cups of chamomile, taken your fair share of restorative yoga classes, and even tried to shut the lights just a little bit earlier. After all, quality ZZZs affect everything from your eating habits to your immune system—and we doubt you have time to be bogged down by a pesky cold.

But if you still find yourself counting sheep (or reaching for a bottle of sleeping pills) on the regular, it may be time to change up your diet. The foods you eat have a significant impact on the quality of your sleep. The need is pretty apparent to anyone who is functioning caffeine addict. 

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People are generally very overstimulated in our society with caffeine and artificial sweeteners as some of the main culprits. Refilling your coffee cup over and over again throws off your adrenal glands, affecting the adrenal and nervous systems—and causing feelings of stress, anxiety, or the jitters. As in, the things that keep us lying awake in bed at night, or tossing and turning until the alarm goes off.

And this overstimulation doesn’t come without a cost—your body needs some snooze time to help it hit the refresh button. Working late and then waking up early to hit up power yoga may seem feasible for a little while, but in the long run, you’re going to compromise your energy, memory, well-being, and longevity. We recommend weaning yourself off of these stimulants throughout the day—especially caffeine—and getting your energy from more sustainable food sources at every meal.

Not sure what to stock up on to maximise the quality of your time under the covers? We have picked our favourite sleep-enhancing foods based on key nutrients, like calcium, magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, and tryptophan—which all play key roles in serious shut-eye. 

In an age of overachieving, it’s about time we all aim to be successful snoozers, too.

1. Almonds

Almonds are high in potassium and B vitamins, which help our nervous systems to relax. Our super-sleep snack tip? Spread some almond butter on toast with banana slices (another sleep all-star)—no need to count sheep when your head hits the pillow.

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2. Bananas

Bananas, like almonds, are packed with B complex vitamins and potassium, making them one of our favorite insomnia-fighting ingredients.

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3. Brown rice

Brown rice is awesome because it contains GABA, which is a natural Ambien. If you’ve never heard of GABA (you’re definitely not alone on that one), you may want to get familiar with the amino acid. GABA—aka gamma-amino butyric acid—calms the nervous system and works almost like a natural, super-mellow tranquilizer.

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4. Cherries

Cherries allow the body to release melatonin, which we call “the body clock hormone” because it promotes a cycle of falling asleep and waking up naturally. As in, the fruit will help you recalibrate the body when you’re dealing with a bout of jet lag.

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5. Chickpeas

Your sleep cycle’s new best friend? B vitamins. Chickpeas boast vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin, highlighting the legume’s deep sleep-inducing qualities. Munching on chickpeas throughout the day will help your body and your nervous system relax come bedtime, too.

6. Kale

Need some more convincing to pile your plate with kale? Magnesium deficiency is a major cause of insomnia, the majority of us don’t get enough magnesium. Good thing this dark, leafy green is packed with the mineral. Yet another reason to throw some kale in to your daily smoothie.

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7. Oatmeal

Sure, it’s a breakfast staple—but oatmeal will help you get your snooze on, too. Oats aid the body in releasing sleep hormones (think melatonin, yet again). In fact, we liken the grain a natural Ambien. Porridge for dinner, anyone?

8. Walnuts

Walnuts are a great source of tryptophan, which is a sleep-enhancing amino acid. In the brain, tryptophan is converted to serotonin, which induces sleep. Pop a few after dinner to get the body snooze-ready.

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9. Dairy

It’s true, that warm glass of milk your mum gave you when you were a kid does help you sleep better. Dairy is a natural source of sleep-inducing tryptophan, and the calcium content of dairy has a nice booster effect on the amino acid.

10. Poultry

It’s not just turkey that contains sleep-inducing tryptophan; all poultry does. Nibble on a piece of chicken or put sliced turkey onto a piece of whole wheat bread, both are great foods to help you sleep!

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11. Eggs

Eggs are also a good source of tryptophan, so have a hard-boiled egg alongside a cup of tea or a poached egg on whole grain bread to combine the power of your favourite sleep-inducing foods.

12. Grapes

A 2006 study found that popular grape varieties used to make wine, like Merlot, Sangiovese, and Cabernet, contain high levels of melatonin. The study tested the actual fruit, not wine, but the researchers say that melatonin levels in wine may be possible. Don’t take this as a good excuse to imbibe before bedtime, since alcohol can make it harder for you to stay asleep throughout the night.

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author: Matt Williams


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