What Foods Improve Sleep? | Foods that improve insomnia and anxiety


Hey, it’s Devin Burke, your coaching guide of a peaceful night’s rest, and today we’re going to talk about what foods improve sleep.

So first I want to share with you about kiwis: really fun fruit. There was really interesting research in Taiwan done that showed that eating kiwis not only improved the quality of sleep, but also was found to improve the quantity of sleep. Kiwis are loaded with vitamin C; they’re loaded with folate and serotonin, which all play a role in high-quality sleep. And so you’ll find most of what we’re going to share as far as foods go, there’s a commonality between what they’re high in.

Now, tart cherry juice is high in melatonin, which is the sleep hormone, which helps us feel sleepy, which is released from the pineal gland in the presence of darkness, and tart cherry juice is a natural high-occurring food that contains melatonin. So rather than taking a melatonin supplement, you can just take a shot of tart cherry juice and it will make you feel sleepy.

Walnuts not only are they amazing for your brain – they look like brains – they’re also amazing for your sleep. And the reason for that is, again, they’re a good source of tryptophan, which is a sleep-enhancing amino acid that helps make serotonin and melatonin, and again, this serotonin and melatonin control our sleep-wake cycles. So again, you’ll find a very common theme among all the foods I’m about to share with you. They’re high in either melatonin, serotonin, or tryptophan.

Turkey: everyone knows, or is familiar with, eating turkey on Thanksgiving and then taking a big nap. Or that might be because you eat too much and you eat a lot of sugar on Thanksgiving and then you crash. But turkey is a natural source of tryptophan. There’s other proteins as well that are good sources of tryptophan, which again, can help improve sleep quality.

Chlorophyll: any green food, really anything that’s good for your health, is actually going to be good for your sleep, to be honest. Chlorophyll or foods that are high in chlorophyll, like kale, bok choi, like spirulina, chlorella; any food that’s green contains chlorophyll and chlorophyll is good for circulation, which is also good for our health, which is also good for sleep. Also, green foods are the number one thing that most of us lack in our diets. So just eating more salad, eating more green super foods is a good idea. And again, what’s good for our health is also good for our sleep and vice versa.

Salmon has natural-occurring nutrients that help regulate serotonin and melatonin. Also super high in protein; great for the brain.

Pumpkin seeds: they contain actually 600 milligrams of tryptophan and a good amount of zinc as well, I think a hundred grams. And both of these, zinc and tryptophan… Tryptophan turns into serotonin, which is a precursor for melatonin. Melatonin is the sleep hormone. So you’ll see most of these foods that I’m speaking about have a correlation with melatonin in some way, either from tryptophan or from serotonin. But all of these, again, are good for our health, and what’s good for our health is also good for our sleep.

Hummus is, again, high in tryptophan and serotonin, precursors for melatonin.

And let’s talk before we close out this training about foods that destroy our sleep, because I don’t just want to share with you about foods that can promote sleep. You need to know what foods to avoid because these foods destroy sleep.

So first and foremost, sugar. Sugar is the number one food on the planet that destroys our sleep. Why? Because it causes our insulin to spike. It gives us this sugar high and then crashes us, and if our insulin is high and if it’s all over the place, this is going to lead to waking up in the middle of the night, feeling hungry, feeling dehydrated. Sugar’s in everything. It’s hard to avoid, but if you can just cut back on sugar, your sleep will improve drastically.

Dairy. A lot of people are lactose intolerant and don’t know it. It produces mucus in the body, which clogs the nostrils, which then can get in the way of us having clean, clear airways while we sleep. Oxygen while we sleep is very important. So if you’re somebody that gets mucusy or is eating a lot of dairy, cutting back on dairy not only will help you lose weight, but also, if you have any sensitivities or intolerances to it that’s creating excess mucus, it will help clear that up for you. So experiment with removing dairy.

Gluten is an amino acid. It’s a protein that’s found in wheat, and some people are highly sensitive to gluten and they take it out and it’s a world of difference. Some people are not. So you can experiment with removing gluten from your diet for a week and see how it affects your sleep.

And then processed food. I mean, again, what’s not good for our health is also not good for our sleep. So just all the processed oils, any fast food; that’s not going to be good for your sleep. Not only is it going to cause digestive discomfort, it’s just destroying your body. So limit your intake of processed foods. Again, what’s good for your health is good for your sleep.

And I love this. I was actually eating at a health restaurant the other day and I just thought this was fantastic, so I want to share it with you all. There was a sign that said, “You are what you eat, so don’t be fast, easy, cheap or fake.” And that’s so true. I mean, it’s such a great little fun saying, but it’s a true saying.

So more things that I want to share with you before we wrap this training up is coffee. This is one of the most abused drugs on the planet, and it absolutely disturbs sleep. Why? So we have two sleep systems in the body, sleep pressure and circadian rhythm. Sleep pressure is the buildup of this neurochemical called adenosine in our brains, which makes us feel tired. Caffeine, which is contained in coffee, blocks the receptor sites from adenosine and also disturbs the quality of our sleep. So cut back on caffeine. A cup of coffee in the morning’s not going to make that big of a difference, but the half-life of caffeine is pretty long: four to seven hours, depending on the strength of the coffee, and how you metabolize caffeine also factors into that. So anyway, long story short, just cut out the caffeine if you want to improve your sleep.

And last but certainly not least: alcohol. Alcohol may help us fall asleep, but it definitely disturbs the quality of sleep. It dehydrates us. And if you’re going to consume alcohol, consume it earlier in the day, not late into the night, and do it in limited qualities.

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