This is a guest post by Emily Thompson.
Do you find it hard to sleep from time to time? Or have you been battling with sleep issues every night for as long as you can remember? However grave your sleep problems are, I am pretty sure that you have relied on the Internet to find solutions for your dilemma. I also know that you have already heard or read of the term melatonin.
But what does it do? And what can you do to increase its levels in your body? In the next few paragraphs, I will answer these questions and help you find the ultimate solution to your sleep issues so keep on reading!
What is Melatonin?
Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland and is responsible for regulating the natural sleep cycle. The pineal gland releases this hormone at the end of the day (when the daylight begins to fade). When this hormone is released in the bloodstream, it induces a feeling of calmness and relaxation, prompting you to go to bed and sleep.
Aside from promoting sleep, this hormone is also associated with other vital functions like improving memory, preventing cancers, reducing stress, regulating female reproductive hormones and delaying signs of aging.
Where Can You Get Melatonin? The Foods to Eat!
You can find synthetic melatonin supplements in the market today. However, studies have shown that synthetically produced melatonin is not as effective as people may think. In addition to that, taking too much of these supplements may lead to melatonin overdose so you should take extra precaution.
The best way for you to boost your serotonin levels naturally is through your diet. There are plenty of melatonin-rich foods that you can take advantage of if you wish to enjoy adequate and proper sleep. These are as follows:
Aside from being delicious, Turkey is also one nutritious dish. A lot of people claim that turkey can promote sleepiness as they experienced feeling tired after eating it. This is because turkey contains the amino acid called tryptophan which can boost the production of melatonin in the body.
Another reason why eating turkey is effective in inducing sleep is its high protein content. According to some studies, consuming a right amount of protein a few hours before bedtime can lead to better sleep quality.
• Tart Cherries
This is a type of cherry that most athletes eat after a tiring training as these are known to promote faster muscle recovery and healing. And as we all know, berries and cherries have been associated with high antioxidant content which can fight off free radicals and delay the development of signs of aging in the body.
But more than these, there is one study that showed that people who drank 8 ounces of tart cherries in the morning and evening sleep a lot better. According to experts, this may be since these fruits contain high amounts of vitamin C, a vitamin needed to convert tryptophan into serotonin.
If you wish to incorporate tart cherries in your diet, you can munch on fresh cherries or add dried cherries to your cereals and overnight oats. However, the best and easiest way to consume tart cherries is to drink tart cherry juice.
Aside from having high amounts of melatonin, walnuts are also known to have high amounts of fatty acids, particularly ALA. When it enters the body, this fatty acid is converted to DHA, a substance that can increase production of a brain chemical that can also induce sleep—serotonin.
With this in mind, consuming a handful of walnuts a few hours before you go to bed may help you sleep faster.
We all know that bananas are rich in potassium and magnesium, both of which are natural muscle relaxants. When your body is relaxed, your mind relaxes as well. As a result, you will find it easier to fall asleep.
In addition to its high potassium content, banana is also a tryptophan-rich food. The brain converts this chemical to 5-HTP which is eventually converted to melatonin and serotonin.
• Fatty Fishes
Fatty fishes are rich in tryptophan which you may already know by now to be a precursor of the hormone melatonin. But in addition to this, most fishes are rich in vitamin B6 which is another vitamin needed to produce melatonin in the body.
While these are rich in fiber, oats are also considered to be a form of complex carbohydrates. This type of carbohydrate can provide the body with high energy levels that can last all throughout the day and promote a natural and healthy sleep cycle.
Moreover, this food is rich in different types of B vitamins, including vitamin B3 which is known for sleep-inducing benefits (as it is also used in producing melatonin). It also contains high amounts of magnesium which can relax not just the body but the mind as well.
Another natural source of melatonin is tomato. Sadly though, not many people love the taste of fresh tomatoes. If this is the case, you can opt to consume tomato-rich food items like ketchups, sauces, and pastes.
In addition to having melatonin, it is also a good source of lycopene which is a popular heart-healthy nutrient.
• Dark Leafy Greens
Leafy and dark vegetables contain three trace minerals that can help you fall asleep—calcium, magnesium, and potassium. As mentioned, magnesium and potassium are muscle relaxants. On the other hand, calcium aids the body in releasing melatonin to the bloodstream.
Some of the dark leafy green vegetables that you can take advantage of include spinach, kale, collard greens, and Swiss chard.
Some of the recommended fatty fishes that you should consume for better sleep are snapper, trout, tuna, cod, salmon, and halibut.
Getting an adequate amount of sleep is vital to your health. Lucky for you, there are plenty of foods that can induce the release of melatonin and help you to fall asleep easier and faster. If you wish to make the most out of these sleep-regulating foods, it is best that you consume them 2 to 3 hours before your desired bedtime.
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