4 Foods to Help You Sleep

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By Fiorella M. | Updated: Jan 14, 2022

4 Foods to Help You Sleep

Insomnia is a very common disorder, characterized by the inability to fall asleep even when it's time to rest. This problem can be attributed to different causes, like hormonal changes, a busy schedule, environmental noise, and odd behavior of some neurons in the brain that are supposed to "switch off" the signals that keep you awake. Although the main cause of sleep disorders is still largely unknown, serotonin, epinephrine, melatonin, and tryptophan have all been associated with the state of alertness of the brain.

As caffeine and other stimulants cannot overcome the effects of severe sleep deprivation, and those hours can't be recovered, there are natural and delicious alternatives that can help to regulate brain chemistry so that you can finally get some rest.

1. Passion Fruit

Among passion fruit's varied medicinal properties and benefits, its beta-carboline alkaloids are believed to trigger the release of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an amino acid that acts as a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, inducing a state of tranquility and relaxation that leads to a good night of sleep.1 Drinking some passion fruit juice or tea may help you finally get that much-needed rest.

2. Kiwi

According to some studies, the antioxidants and serotonin contained in te kiwi fruit may have some positive influence on brain chemistry, improving sleep onset, duration, and quality in people who suffer from sleep disorders.2 Consuming a couple of kiwis at night during a span of four weeks has been shown to help reduce sleep disorders.

3. Banana

Bananas have a powerful combination of magnesium, vitamin B6, and natural complex carbs that promote the production of serotonin, an important neurotransmitter that controls sleep cycles. They are also a great source of tryptophan, an amino acid that induces drowsiness by stimulating serotonin production.3 Eating bananas on a regular basis can help normalize sleep patterns.

4. Oats

Avenanthramides, polyphenols in oats, have shown strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. However, oats also produce melatonin, which promotes growth in plants and animals, and is arguably linked to sleep cycles.4 Although melatonin hasn't been exhaustively studied, it is well-known as the "hormone of darkness" due to the increase in its levels during the night and its influence on the circadian rhythm of most species, including humans. Having a good bowl of oats and bananas before going to bed can make a big difference in the quality of your sleep.

The human body is typically in a state of alertness during the day and goes into a resting cycle during the night. The amount of sleep you need depends on many variables, but generally, seven to eight hours a night seems to be enough for most adults; less than that can cause sleep deprivation. Whatever the reason that keeps you awake, there is always a natural way to regain that necessary balance. Give it a try and have a good night!

Sources

  • International Journal of Biomedical Science, Sleep disorders related to nutrition and digestive diseases: a neglected clinical condition, 2021
  • Journal of Biological Rhythms, Toxicology of melatonin, 1997
  • Medlineplus, Sleep Disorders
  • National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke | Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep
  • Nutrition Reviews, Potential health benefits of avenanthramides of oats, 2009

Footnotes:

  1. Biulleten' eksperimental' noi biologii Meditsini. (1982). Characteristics of GABA-potentiating effect of harman. Retrieved December 14, 2021, from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6293612/
  2. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (2011). Effect of kiwifruit consumption on sleep quality in adults with sleep problems. Retrieved January 14, 2022, from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21669584/
  3. Journal of Pineal Research. (2013). Serum melatonin levels and antioxidant capacities after consumption of pineapple, orange, or banana by healthy male volunteers. Retrieved January 14, 2022, from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23137025/
  4. Nutrients. (2020). Acute and Chronic Effects of Green Oat (Avena sativa) Extract on Cognitive Function and Mood during a Laboratory Stressor in Healthy Adults: A Randomised, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study in Healthy Humans. Retrieved January 14, 2022, from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7352613/