How melatonin-rich foods can naturally aid sleep
Put good quality sleep on the menu by adding melatonin-rich foods to your shopping list.
Improving sleep isn’t only about going to bed early. You want to focus on increasing your melatonin levels naturally, too. Start with the foods that you buy for you and your family and eat your way to better sleep.
How does melatonin aid sleep?
Melatonin is a hormone that promotes sleep by regulating your natural sleep-wake cycle (known as your circadian rhythm). This sleep-inducing hormone is produced by your pineal gland (a pea-shaped gland in your brain that helps keep your body clock in sync), which makes it easier for you to fall asleep and wake-up at the right times for you.
How can I increase melatonin naturally?
You can naturally increase the production of this vital hormone in different ways. These include limiting screen time before bed, soaking up more sun in the day, turning your room into a sleep sanctuary (dark, cool and quiet), and avoiding certain foods, caffeine or other stimulants at bedtime. Too late for that tipple!
Of course, your diet plays a big role too. If you are what you eat, then adding melatonin-rich foods to your diet is one of the best natural ways to aid sleep.
Which melatonin-rich foods help you sleep?
So what foods do you need to add to the weekly menu? Here’s your shopping list of melatonin-rich foods, including the best bedtime snacks.
Fruits and vegetables
“Eat the rainbow” is an excellent guideline when it comes to what to put on your plates and in lunchboxes. These fruits and veggies are packed with sleep-inducing melatonin and proven to help you drift off into dreamland.
- Tart cherries: these morsels have some of the highest concentrations of natural melatonin and a delicious way to get in a good dose.
- Strawberries: dip them in chocolate for an after-dinner treat that will not only satisfy your sweet tooth but will help you sleep too.
- Corn: consider adding corn to your dinner menu. Corn is another great addition to a diet aimed at improving sleep.
- Asparagus: go green and add asparagus to your shopping list to eat more melatonin-rich foods. Asparagus wrapped in prosciutto, anyone?
- Tomatoes: stock up on some tomatoes and add gazpacho, tomato-based pasta sauce, and various other recipes containing this red fruit to your kitchen repertoire.
- Pomegranates: these red gems don’t just brighten up your fruit salad, they provide a good dose of melatonin too.
- Banana: this is another fruit you can consider adding to your menu. They are also a healthy source of carbohydrates, which can help the body relax before sleep.
- Mushrooms: mushrooms also make the list of healthy melatonin-rich foods. You can add them to many savoury dishes like omelettes, stews, and stir fry.
Grains are another great natural source of melatonin. However, some people are sensitive to the gluten found in grains, which can cause inflammation (especially if you have arthritis or irritable bowel syndrome). While you may tolerate some grains better than others, gluten-free grain options like rice will give you a good dose of melatonin without the uncomfortable side effects of inflammation.
Some of the best options you can easily find are:
- Rice: make rice your carbohydrate of choice at dinnertime for some extra melatonin. Rice is also less likely to cause inflammation than most other grains.
- Barley: this is another melatonin-rich food you can consider adding to your meal plan.
- Rolled oats: if you want to improve your sleep, start with breakfast. You can have some rolled oats with some of the fruits we listed above.
Nuts and Seeds
Go nuts with your diet for good sleep. Some nuts and seeds pack a melatonin-rich food punch, including walnuts, pistachios, and almonds. You can also add sunflower seeds, mustard seeds, and flaxseed to your lunch.
It’s not just your gran that says a glass of warm milk before bed is good for you, science agrees! Besides melatonin, dairy products like milk, yoghurt and cheese contain an amino acid called tryptophan, which helps to induce sleep. Just make sure you eat your cheese during the day and not too close to bedtime. The camembert can wait…
Meat, fish and poultry
Animal products like fish, lamb, beef, pork, liver, chicken, and eggs are great melatonin-rich foods. These foods help your body to produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that tells your brain and body to relax before sleep.
Put good quality sleep on the menu and fill your cart with healthy, sleep-friendly foods the whole family will love.