Researchers have found that several foods that are high in certain amino acids and other nutrients can promote sleep. These nutrients include L-tryptophan, melatonin, and calcium.
“There is some information that certain foods help with sleep,” said Kathe Henke, the Laboratory Director for the Sleep Disorders Center of Virginia in Henrico, Va.
The foods identified by researchers included:
Fruits – Cherries are one of the few foods high in melatonin. Bananas contain potassium and magnesium as well as L-tryptophan. Both potassium and magnesium are hailed as natural muscle relaxants. Relaxed muscles coupled with the sleep inducing amino acid can mean better sleep.
Nuts and seeds – Grab a handful of your favorite nuts like hazel nuts, peanuts, or soy nuts. Try some sesame seeds or some sunflower seeds. These nuts and seeds are high in L-tryptophan.
Grains – Oatmeal is high in melatonin while other staples like rice, beans, and lentils are high in L-tryptophan. Plus, the carbohydrates in these grains help with the production of insulin, which removes tyrosine amino acids from the brain and allows more tryptophan to be absorbed. Tyrosine amino acids act as stimulators and can counteract the effects tryptophan.
Dairy Products – Many dairy products are high in L-tryptophan and calcium.