The Centers for Disease Control states that 35% of U.S adults don’t get the recommended hours of sleep a night.   Sleep specialists recommend that adults aged 18-60 years get at least 7 hours of sleep for optimal health. Sleeping less than that amount is associated with obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and stress. 

There are many recommendations to improve and enhance sleep.   Many nutritionists agree that eating fiber is key to a night of restorative slow-wave sleep. High fiber foods contribute to steady blood sugar levels, meaning that a diet high in fiber and low in sugar and saturated fat helps improve the quality of sleep. A small dessert or snack 30 minutes before bedtime can actually help you fall asleep and stay asleep. The reason is the carbohydrates in say a slice of sourdough bread spread with hazelnut chocolate starts the production of serotonin, the hormone that facilitates relaxation and regulates the sleep cycle.

Here are 6 foods that are recommended for better sleep:

Kiwi: is full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate, all of are known to help facilitate sleep.  Volunteers at Taipei Medical University who ate two kiwis one hour before bed slept nearly a full extra hour!

Almonds: Is an excellent source of melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone.  Almonds also contain magnesium, which has been found to help improve sleep due to its ability to reduce inflammation.  The magnesium in almonds may also reduce cortisol; a stress hormone is known to interfere with sleep.  One ounce before bedtime should help with sleep quality.

Tart Cherry Juice: Sweet cherries are not the same as the Tart variety.  Tart Cherries are small, bright red and sour.  Because tarts grow from the middle of June in warmer areas too late August in colder regions, it is easier to find and drink the juice as opposed to seeing and eating the cherries throughout the year.  Tart cherries contain melatonin, the antioxidant that helps induce sleep.  The Anthocyanins®; plant compounds found in tarts have anti-inflammatory properties, are beneficial in reducing back and muscle pain, as well as osteo and rheumatoid arthritis.  Tarts are also full of vitamins A, C, manganese, copper, and fiber.   The polyphenol found in tart cherry juice appears to reduce blood pressure.

Bananas: Mineral deficiency is a known culprit of sleep deprivation.  Bananas contain high levels of magnesium which helps lower brain temperature and regulate hormones. Coupled with potassium; which relaxes muscles, and controls blood pressure both work harmoniously to enhance sleep.  The amino acid Tryptophan found in bananas produces serotonin and melatonin which regulates mood and circadian rhythms and is a known sleep inducer

Fatty Fish: Like salmon, tuna and halibut contain Vitamin B6, a key ingredient in making melatonin, the sleep-inducing hormone.

Kale: is a superfood loaded with vitamins A, C, K, and B6 as well as potassium, magnesium, and calcium all sleep-inducing nutrients.  Kale also has small amounts of iron and omega-3s.

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