Whether trying to drift off after a hard day's work, or just wanting to get a quick nap in, it may be hard to relax for some; especially for people who have insomnia. For some there isn't much that can be done to help induce sleep without the use of medication, but these medications may have unwanted side effects, which may be more bothersome than the insomnia. The good news is that there are foods you can eat to induce sleep and if you are having trouble staying awake, there are foods to eat for that as well.
Foods to Induce Sleep
In the body there is a neurotransmitter called serotonin. This neurotransmitter is used to regulate sleep, sensory perception, mood, depression and body temperature. When you ingest foods such as chicken, eggs, cheese, tuna, milk or nuts, which contain a chemical called tryptophan, the levels of serotonin in the body increase, which helps to induce sleep. These foods are also linked to the production of melatonin, which is a hormone naturally secreted from the brain that induces sleep.
Foods to Increase Energy
If you are having trouble staying awake eat foods that contain carbohydrates and protein. Eat lean proteins such as fish or white breast meat. Try to eat complex carbohydrate foods such as whole wheat, whole grain and brown rice instead of white rice, potatoes and table sugar, which are considered refined carbohydrates. In addition, incorporate any foods that contain vitamin B-1, B-2, B-3 and B-5, which all work to convert food into energy. Foods that contain these vitamins are milk, peanut butter, enriched grains, whole grains and mushrooms.
Foods to Avoid
Avoid foods that are high in sugar, salt or saturated fats. Although these foods may have the ability to increase your energy or induce sleep, these additives may cause problems with blood pressure, blood glucose levels, blood cholesterol or weight gain.
Beverages to Induce Sleep
Drink a cup of warm milk and honey before sleeping. This drink stimulates the hormone serotonin, which induces sleep. Add fresh nutmeg to your milk. Nutmeg contains a chemical called myristin, which helps to cause drowsiness in small amounts.
Beverages to Increase Alertness
Energy drinks contain large amounts of caffeine, which may cause a short-lived energy burst. However, these drinks may also cause nervousness, irritability, insomnia, increased heart beat and elevated blood pressure. Instead of drinking these energy drinks long-term, try drinking a smoothie with a scoop of B-complex vitamin in it, to increase energy naturally.
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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.