Are you one of those people who go to bed at midnight, only to stay awake, unable to sleep? Well, don’t reach for the pill bottle yet, as certain natural foods can help you out!
Vasundhara Agrawal is a Bengaluru-based diet and lifestyle expert, and an independent food consultant, who wishes to take the confusion out of healthy eating.
Vasundhara has worked with hospitals like Fortis and Max Healthcare is a life member of the Indian Dietetic Association and a UGC-NET qualified lecturer. She works with people and groups around the world, guiding them in the right dietary direction and help them move towards a more healthy lifestyle.
We, at The Better India, asked Vasundhara about foods that might work as natural sleep aids to battle insomnia. Before we dive into that list, it is good to know that each of these foods is rich in tryptophan, an essential amino acid, that our bodies convert into melatonin and serotonin to help up sleep better.
Tryptophan is the same amino acid which helps in muscle building, and according to Vasundhara, it does not occur naturally in the human body, which is why we must rely on supplements and whole foods. Please note that if you depend on supplements for amino acids, you need to watch your consumption.
But for those who do not wish to take supplements, here are five foods that will help you beat insomnia.
Yes, this age-old remedy is actually true. Milk promotes better sleep since it contains generous amounts of tryptophan. There is no particular fixed time you should drink milk. Warm up the milk and drink the glass before bedtime, to ensure a sound sleep and a good bowel movement, says Vasundhara. She adds that certain people might not be able to digest milk on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning. For them, night time consumption is preferable.
Cheese is excellent for health, and can contribute to a good night’s sleep, says Vasundhara, adding that the critical point to note is not to overdo consumption. Cheese also happens to be an excellent source of calcium, which is also known to release serotonin. So if you are having trouble sleeping, include more cheese in your diet, and increase natural serotonin production for battling insomnia!
Fish is an excellent source of protein, and thus a great source of tryptophan, says Vasundhara, adding that including at least one fish-based meal in a day would help your erratic sleep pattern. Fish also happens to be an excellent source of Omega-3, and other essential vitamins and minerals, so do ensure you consume fish regularly, to facilitate a healthy sleep cycle.
4. Nuts and Seeds
Both these food items are a healthy source of protein, says Vasundhara, and consuming a handful of nuts, seeds or both, every day will do wonders for your health, in all areas including sleep. They are easy to digest and are loaded with nutrients, which makes them the numero uno choice for those in search of a healthy lifestyle.
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The simple egg, with its nutrient content, is the foundation for those looking to build muscle. Well, due to their high protein content, eggs are also rich in tryptophan and Vasundhara recommends including eggs in your diet if you are having trouble sleeping.
Rounding off, Vasundhara advised that foods containing tryptophan must be included in our diet in an evenly spaced out manner.
So, ditch the sleeping pills, and get yourself a glass of warm milk, or a cheese sandwich, to get sound sleep!
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)