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Sleep Problems Food Directory

Sleep is extremely important to your health.  Your body must go through a full sleep cycle in order to feel refreshed and energized.  Full sleep means 7 – 8 hours for adults and 9 – 10 hours for children.  A large portion of the regeneration and healing process takes place as you sleep.  Additionally, the body detoxifies itself while you sleep, eliminating waste and other harmful toxins. Many harmful diseases come due to the inability to sleep an adequate amount of hours. This directory focuses on specific foods to help those suffering from sleep problems. Most of these foods provide serotonin, an important neurotransmitter in the brain that plays a critical part to completing a healthy sleep cycle.

Proteins

Chicken

 

Choose boneless, skinless chicken breast as a source of lean protein.  Chicken is versatile and can be used in a variety of dishes; it also improves serotonin levels. Avoid fried chicken as this will lower serotonin levels. You can also try ground chicken breast instead of ground beef or pork.

Fish

 

Salmon, tuna, herring and mackerel are high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids. These fatty acids help improve serotonin levels. Remember to avoid fried fish since frying will hinder the natural healthy properties the fish has.

Turkey

 

This is another lean meat that can improve serotonin and sleep. Choose white meat over dark for a good source of lean protein. Unless ground turkey comes from turkey breast, stay away from it. Other ground turkey may include skin and other undesirable parts.

Fruits and Vegetables

Bananas

 

These fruits are a good source of vitamin B6, which is needed for your body to produce melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

Berries

 

Blueberries, strawberries, blackberries etc. These fruits are rich in antioxidants, fiber and vitamins. They’re great for a snack when mixed with plain yogurt.  They can also be used as part of your breakfast or as a topping on whole-wheat pancakes.

Citrus Fruit

 

Full of soluble fiber and vitamin C, which can help reduce stress and promote better sleep cycles. Good examples of citrus fruits include grapefruit and oranges.

Dark Leafy Greens

 

Examples include spinach, collards, green chard, rainbow chard and kale. They’re low in calories and carbs and full of minerals and vitamins including vitamins K, C and E.

Herbal Teas

 

Non-caffeinated herbal teas such as chamomile rooibos or chai   are worth mentioning because they can soothe the mind and help with sleep if you take a cup before bed. Be sure the tea isn’t caffeinated however, since the caffeine will keep you awake.

Tomatoes

 

These are full of Vitamin C. They can be included in soups, salads, sandwiches and sauces.

Whole Grains and Seeds

Oats

 

This grain is versatile and can be added to smoothies, replace breadcrumbs, or eaten for breakfast. Be sure to stay away from instant flavored oatmeal as these contain high amounts of sugar and other unhealthy ingredients. Oats are an excellent choice because they reduce stress hormone levels and boost serotonin.

Quinoa

 

This seed is full of amino acids, magnesium and iron while at the same time being low in sodium. This versatile seed can be added to soups, salads or even desserts.

Whole Wheat

 

Processed wheat products such as white bread don’t have the same nutrients that whole wheat does and can even bring serotonin levels down. Whole wheat promotes the production of serotonin in the brain. The germ and bran of whole wheat also contain lots of fiber, as well as an assortment of vitamins and minerals. Replacing processed wheat with whole wheat can help you sleep better at night.

Healthy Fats

Avocado

 

Full of monounsaturated fats, or “healthy fats,” the avocado has the ability to lower blood cholesterol and improve serotonin levels.  If you take blood thinners, check with your doctor before eating avocados as this may conflict with medications.

Flax

 

This seed contains 70% omega-3 fatty acids. Be sure not to heat or cook flax as it loses most of its nutritional value when prepared in this manner. Instead, try adding it freshly ground, not whole to already cooked oatmeal or in a smoothie. An even better choice would be buying the refrigerated kind at a health store.

Nuts

 

Nuts have healthy fats, protein, magnesium, fiber and can improve serotonin levels. Be sure to eat unsalted raw nuts which contain no added ingredients. Nuts are also very easy to snack on so be sure to watch consumption as too much is not ideal for the body. A scant handful equals a healthy serving.

Olive Oil

 

Rich in healthy fats, olive oil also aids in reducing LDL cholesterol and raising HDL “good” cholesterol. Be sure to consume in moderation.

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