Healthy Habits for Better Sleep

Sleep doesn’t always come easy. In fact, nearly 70 million Americans suffer from sleep problems, and many of us fall short of the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Healthy habits support good sleep, and with a few adjustments in your lifestyle, better sleep doesn’t have to be only in your dreams. Check out these tips for a good night’s rest.

Make Sleep-Friendly Food Choices

Dairy foods, such as milk, yogurt, and cheese, are an excellent source of both calcium and tryptophan. A lack of calcium in the diet can cause sleep disturbances and a lack of deep sleep. Tryptophan, an essential amino acid that is found in protein-rich foods, helps to raise serotonin and melatonin levels, which are two sleep-inducing hormones.

Nuts, including walnuts and almonds, may be good sleepy-time foods. Walnuts are a good source of tryptophan and also contain melatonin, while almonds are rich in magnesium, which is necessary for good sleep. Pistachios are high in Vitamin B6, which your body needs in order to make melatonin and serotonin.

Fish and seafood could be sleep-promoting protein options for your evening meal. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend including 8 ounces of seafood each week for the typical adult as part of a healthy diet. Fish, such as tuna and salmon, are high in Vitamin B6, and crustaceans, such as shrimp, are sources of tryptophan.

For a bedtime snack, try a whole grain cereal with low-fat milk, yogurt topped with chopped nuts, or low-fat cheese with crackers. Remember to watch your portion and avoid overeating, which can lead to indigestion, making sleep more difficult.

Establish a Bedtime Routine

Going to bed at the same time each night can help to set your internal clock and make sleep easier. Spend a little time doing something relaxing before bedtime, such as taking a hot bath or drinking a cup of warm tea. If exercise isn’t a part of your lifestyle, incorporate regular physical activity earlier in the day, which is associated with improved sleep, but avoid exercising within 3 hours of bedtime.

For a soothing bedtime drink, try this Lavender Milk Steamer with the added benefit of calcium-rich dairy and relaxing lavender.

Southeast Dairy Association - Jessica IveyJessica Ivey is a Registered Dietitian and chef with a passion for teaching people to eat healthy for a happy and delicious life. She loves spending time in the kitchen creating original recipes to help busy families eat well and enjoy more meals together. Her practical approach has helped her teach consumers to eat healthy and deliciously in the real world. Jessica lives in Birmingham, Alabama, with her food-loving husband, Nathan, and her dog, Joey.