There are many plant-based foods that improve your sleep, and you can consume them anytime of the day to reap the sweet benefits later on that evening. The magic lies in key nutrients that help relax the mind and body. These include Vitamin B6, magnesium, tryptophan (an amino acid), potassium, calcium, and complex carbohydrates. These nutrients directly help you sleep better and can reduce mental and physical stress anytime of the day. A few of these plant-based foods even help your body produce melatonin more efficiently. Melatonin is the hormone that tells you when to get up and when to go to bed. It’s directly influenced by the sun but can often be offset by jet lag, lack of rest, stress, or age-related hormone issues. Try eating more of these plant-based foods to drift off to sleep in no time.
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Cherries, specifically tart cherries and dark cherries, are one of the best plant-based foods that can help you sleep. They help reduce inflammation that might keep you awake and they help your body produce melatonin. Cherries are also a great source of Vitamin C and overall very low on the glycemic index.
Oats are a fabulous source of Vitamin B6, magnesium, tryptophan, potassium, and quality complex carbohydrates. They’re also a good source of protein and fiber. Oats are another melatonin-boosting food to consume if you suffer insomnia. Even having them for breakfast can still help your body produce more melatonin if you consume them regularly.
Sweet potatoes are a rich source of potassium, Vitamin B6, magnesium, Vitamin C, tryptophan, and complex carbohydrates. They’re also a great replacement to white potatoes since they have more fiber and antioxidants. Have a sweet potato for lunch with some salsa and hummus or as a bedtime snack with some cinnamon and almond butter.
Brown rice is rich in amino acids, specifically tryptophan. It’s also a good source of complex carbohydrates, magnesium, Vitamin B6, and folate (Vitamin B9). Have some brown rice in addition to your dinner or eat it chilled as a porridge or dessert with some almond milk, cinnamon, and vanilla.
Walnuts contain Vitamin B6, omega 3 fatty acids, tryptophan, magnesium, and they help your body produce melatonin. They’re a true mood food and overall one of the best nuts you can eat. Have 3 or 4 halves on top of your favorite healthy dessert or just nosh on a few before bed.
Cashew butter is milder in flavor than peanut butter but also much lower in saturated fat and calories. Cashew butter is easy to digest so it won’t be too heavy on your stomach and it’s a wonderful source of iron. In terms of your sleep, cashew butter is one of the richest sources of Vitamin B6, magnesium, and tryptophan. It will reduce stress in just minutes and is fabulous as a smoothie topping or on top of sprouted grain toast with cinnamon.
Bananas are one of the best foods to eat to help you relax. They’re truly a powerhouse in a peel! They contain more Vitamin B6 than any other fruit, they’re a rich source of magnesium and potassium, and they help relieve inflammation in the joints so they can help you rest better if you’re exhausted. I also find they help reduce a restless mind when eaten at bedtime. Try having some frozen bananas as dessert or mash a ripe banana into some oatmeal before bed.
Green peas are an excellent source of Vitamin B6, tryptophan, potassium, and fiber as a bonus. They’re also easier to digest than beans and rich in quality complex carbohydrates. Have some in a soup, on top of a salad, or you might even try sneaking them into your next smoothie too!
All squash is a rich source of Vitamin B6 and potassium. Winter squash is especially rich in complex carbohydrates and summer squash is lower in complex carbohydrates. All squash is a healthy addition to your diet and a great way to reduce stress before bed. Have some roasted acorn or butternut squash with some cinnamon and ginger as a healthy dessert and you’ll drift off to sleep in no time.
Almond milk contains more calcium than dairy milk, so it’s a top notch food to consume at night when you need to sleep. Okay, so technically it’s a beverage, but since it’s a wonderful source of potassium and B vitamins, I had to include it here anyway. I do suggest buying unsweetened varieties to keep your blood sugar levels healthy though.
Cocoa is rich in antioxidants, fiber, magnesium, and mood-boosting properties. It helps reduce blood pressure and can help end “mind chatter,” as I like to call it. Blend some cocoa powder with some almond milk, stevia, a frozen banana, and some cashew butter with some ice. This makes the perfect sleep-inducing dessert smoothie that you’ll likely keep coming back for night after night!
Other great foods to help you sleep include chia seeds, avocados, pumpkin, broccoli (yes, really), corn, edamame, and chickpeas. Try basing your diet off of plant-based foods like these, along with superfoods like kale, blueberries, acai, flax, and hemp for an overall healthy diet that will improve your quality of life, with sleep included. Do you eat any of these plant-based foods that help you sleep?
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