Sufficient sleep, exercise, healthy food, friendship and peace of mind are necessities, not luxuries.
It’s a well-known fact that not getting enough sleep negatively impacts your overall health. Extensive research has concluded that deep sleep significantly bolsters your immune system, relieves stress, increases energy levels, and enhances overall mood and cognition. It’s estimated that around 50% of elderly people suffer from insomnia. In contrast, research indicates that the rate of insomnia amongst younger and middle-aged populations is 33%. The symptoms of insomnia, while resulting in irritability and exhaustion, have several negative consequences. It can affect your coordination, which can lead to serious injury—especially if you’re elderly. It can also lead to gastrointestinal issues and exacerbate feelings of anxiety surrounding sleep. These factors can have a serious impact on your quality of life.
Top 10 Foods to Help You Sleep Well
As insomnia plagues such a large percentage of the elderly population, medical professionals have identified lots of solutions. One of the easiest and most effective potential remedies is food. Let’s take a look at the top ten foods to help you sleep:
Bananas are the number one recommended fruit for promoting deep and uninterrupted sleep. They contain a potent combination of both potassium and tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid. It plays an essential role in the body’s maintenance, muscles, enzymes, neurotransmitters, and proteins. It also helps the body produce serotonin, which is a hormone that promotes feelings of happiness and sleepiness.
Potassium effectively manages the symptoms of anxiety, while also functioning as a remedy for insomnia. While bananas’ combination of potassium and tryptophan is highly effective in encouraging sleep, there are other food sources that contain higher levels of potassium.
2. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish might just be the most popular recommendation for foods to help you sleep. It’s high in omega-3 fats and vitamin D, which both encourage the production of serotonin. Not only do omega-3s support and accelerate the production of serotonin, but they regulate your heart rate too.
Serotonin performs some of the fundamental mechanisms required for a good night’s rest. It promotes feelings of happiness and calm, while simultaneously supporting a regular circadian rhythm.
This seemingly simple food is surprisingly effective in increasing older people’s quality of sleep. Eating oats triggers your body’s production of insulin. This, in turn, will slowly and steadily decrease your blood sugar levels, causing you to feel relaxed and tired.
Oats also encourage the body to produce a multitude of hormones associated with sleep. The melatonin that’s found in porridge effectively lulls you into a tranquil state. Once you’re feeling at ease, you will organically drift into uninterrupted and rejuvenating sleep.
Nuts are famous for their dense concentration of nutrients that can ward off numerous different medical conditions. Almonds and walnuts are some of the most effective foods to help you sleep. The tryptophan and magnesium contained in almonds regulate your heartbeat, restore calm to wayward neural signals, and relax muscles that are unnecessarily tense. When your body can enter into this state of calm, it signals to your brain that you’re prepared for rest.
Walnuts contain high levels of serotonin, melatonin and magnesium. These substances all play an integral role in sleep-enhancing mechanisms that are sure to leave older people feeling refreshed in the morning.
All in all, nuts are among the best foods to help you sleep. However, some elderly people may have difficulty chewing them. If that’s you, there’s no need to miss out; you can add crushed nuts to smoothies, yoghurts, or even desserts.
Garlic is a potent source of a sulphurous compound called allicin. This is the compound that’s produced when garlic is either crushed or chopped. It has excellent health properties, reduces inflammation, and of course, encourages sleep.
Allicin, combined with garlic’s high levels of zinc, makes for a highly effective (and pungent) sleep-promoting food. Garlic is also rich in vitamin B6. This encourages melatonin production, which increases the quality and possibly even the amount of your sleep. This makes garlic one of the best foods to help you sleep all night.
Kiwifruits contain a multitude of highly beneficial nutrients. Potassium, calcium, folate, magnesium, flavonoids, carotenoids, and anthocyanins are just a few on the extensive list. There’s a surprising amount of research on the efficacy of kiwis as a sleep-enhancing food source. The general consensus is that anyone who consumes one kiwifruit an hour before going to bed experiences prolonged and deeper sleep.
Medical professionals have concluded that eating white rice in the evening aids sleep. In fact, rice has proven to be more effective than its fellow carbohydrates, bread and noodles. Although the relationship between carbohydrates and sleep is somewhat of a contentious issue, the sleep-related benefits of white rice specifically have been largely agreed upon.
Cherries contain a large quantity of tryptophan. This is the amino acid that is the precursor to melatonin. Melatonin regulates when you fall asleep and when you wake up. It’s noted that tart or sour Montmorency cherries are the most effective in regulating your circadian rhythm. Cherries also contain high levels of magnesium, which further encourages deep and regular sleep.
Eggs pack a potent punch of 11 vitamins and minerals. Eating eggs a couple of hours before getting into bed acts as a natural sleep-enhancing sedative. This is because egg whites encourage the production of melatonin. They are also rich in tryptophan, the amino acid responsible for signalling to the central nervous system that it’s time to rest.
10. Warm Milk with Honey
The benefits of drinking warm milk with honey in the evenings are twofold. Its efficacy comes both from its nutritional properties and its ritualistic nature of preparation and consumption. In a study involving 68 people, there was compelling evidence to suggest that twice-daily consumption of warm milk and honey significantly improved the quality of sleep.
Establishing a ritual of preparing warm milk and honey in the evenings before going to sleep is also highly effective in regulating your circadian rhythm. As you come to associate the warm beverage with rest, your body will automatically drift off to sleep.
Eat Your Way To Better Sleep
Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.
And there you have it: the top 10 foods to help you sleep better at night. As your sleep quality and needs change as you age, your diet should too. Eating your way to a better night’s sleep is an easy way to give your body a boost.
For older people, sleep and diet are both incredibly important. If one can support the other, then it’s in your best interests to note the foods that help you get the rest you need every night.
If you enjoyed this article, why not check out:
- The Eatwell Guide: A Well-Balanced Diet
- An In-Depth Guide to Healthy Living
- Insomnia: A Useful Guide