We all know how important a good night’s sleep is for our overall well-being. In 2016, it was estimated that 48% of all Australian adults had at least 2 sleep-related problems. In 2018, 52% of 16–17-year-olds were not meeting sleep guidelines on school nights (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2021).
Making informed choices about the foods we consume can significantly impact the quality and duration of our sleep. Often, this connection between our diet and sleep is underestimated. So here are key nutrients and foods that have been found to promote a better night’s sleep.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps produce serotonin and melatonin, both crucial for regulating sleep. Our body does not make tryptophan, so it is important we get it from foods. Dairy products like yogurt and milk, turkey, chicken, tofu, and sesame seeds are excellent sources of tryptophan.
Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. Although there are supplemental forms of melatonin, incorporating foods like cherries, bananas, nuts, and oats that contain melatonin can aid in improving sleep quality.
Magnesium plays a role in promoting relaxation and easing muscle tension, supporting a more restful, restorative sleep. Including foods like leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and whole grains can boost magnesium intake.
Chamomile, valerian root, and passionflower teas have calming properties that can help soothe the mind and body before bedtime. Chamomile, in particular, is one of the richest natural sources of apigenin, which has been shown to induce sedation and muscle relaxation.
Incorporating whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats into dinner can increase tryptophan’s availability in the brain, promoting a better sleep.
Start adopting a balanced diet, rich in sleep-supportive nutrients to enhance your sleep patterns. Remember this is only one part of addressing a better night’s sleep. If you are looking for further guidance, reach out to an Accredited Practising Dietitian today.