Are you getting enough sleep? Chances are you’re not. Most experts recommend that the average adult should get between seven to nine hours of sleep per night, but a December 2013 Gallup poll found that 40 percent of Americans regularly only get six hours or less of sleep on a daily basis.

Studies show that not getting enough sleep puts you at greater risk for developing high blood pressure, diabetes and falling victim to a heart attack. If counting sheep just isn’t cutting it, and you want to use natural methods and avoid using sleeping pills, what can you do to get a better night’s sleep?  How about changing your diet?

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There’s been a lot of research indicating that adding specific foods to your diet can actually help you get a good night’s sleep. Researchers found that foods containing carbohydrates, melatonin, serotonin, tryptophan, potassium, and magnesium help to relax the body and mind, and can help you get your zzzzz’s. In addition, high-protein foods can help you get some rest by aiding in the production of tryptophan.

Eating too much before going to bed, even if you are eating sleep-inducing foods, can make you uncomfortable and cause acid reflux. On the other hand, not eating enough during the day can cause you to wake up in the middle of the night simply because your body is hungry.

I’ve identified five foods that’ll help you get some rest, but before I share them with you, you’ve got to promise to wait until you’ve finished reading this article before incorporating them into your diet. These foods are so effective in promoting sleep that while performing “hands on” research as I was writing this piece, I actually fell asleep several times. OK, just kidding, but read on!

Nutscashew cream

Do you sometimes feel like a nut? That feeling can actually help you get some sleep! Research has shown that almonds contain high amounts of tryptophan, which is a sleep-enhancing amino acid that aids in the production of serotonin and melatonin. Walnuts are also a good source of tryptophan and  contain their own source of melatonin. Pistachio nuts are high in vitamin B6, which aids in the production of serotonin and melatonin.

CherriesCacao-Nibs-Cherry-Smoothie-1200x800

Adding cherries, specifically tart cherries, to your diet can help to regulate your sleep cycle. These tasty summer treats are a natural source of melatonin. If you can’t get your hands on fresh cherries, research conducted by the University of Pennsylvania and Rochester showed that drinking cherry juice can help bring on sleep for individuals suffering from insomnia. Since this delicious fruit is only in season during the summer months, eat dried cherries and they will also help you get some well deserved rest. Researchers recommend snacking on cherries an hour before bedtime for the best effect. Check out some great cherry recipes here!

OatmealCarrot-Cake-Oatmeal-With-Ginger-Spiced-Cashew-Cream-Vegan-1200x800

Did you ever notice that eating carbohydrate-rich foods give you a quick burst of energy that is usually followed by an energy crash? Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to time that energy crash as well as the sleepy feeling that accompanies it, so that you can get some sleep. As a complex carbohydrate, eating oatmeal naturally causes your blood sugar levels to rise, which leads your body to increase its production of insulin and release sleep-inducing brain chemicals. Oats are also a good source of melatonin and vitamin B6. Try an oatmeal recipe today!

Tea

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As long as they are decaffeinated, most herbal teas, except for those containing ginseng, have sleep inducing properties. Chamomile, lemon balm, and passion fruit teas are especially known to help you get a relaxing night’s sleep. Chamomile teas aid in the production of the chemical glycine, known for relaxing nerves and muscles and having mild sedative properties. Passion fruit tea contains Harman alkaloids which affect your nervous system and help you feel tired.

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Green Leafy VegetablesKale Coconut Detox Salad

Vegetables like kale and spinach are loaded with calcium, which helps the brain use tryptophan to manufacture our old friend melatonin. Add a salad to your dinner and you can be the beneficiary of the sedative properties of lactucarium, which affects the brain in much the same way opium does. Try one of our kale recipes today!

What types of foods do you eat to help get sound sleep?

Image source: Beet Greens With Garlic and Toasted Almonds

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