It’s night-time, everything is still and quiet, and you lay in bed feeling nowhere close to falling asleep.  This is a common nightly scenario for many Americans.  In fact, about 10% of Americans suffer chronic insomnia and nearly 9 million US adults have reported using prescription sleeping pills.  This may not sound like a problem but “inadequate sleep has been tied to the start and worsening of a range of diseases and conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression.”  Yikes!  In our culture, we like to go for the quick fix, pop a pill, and fix the issue.  Taking a step back and looking at the whole picture is more valuable than you may have ever realized and it can all start with the foods you are eating!

Fresh fruits and vegetables are packed with vibrant nutrients that are just waiting to fuel the body.  Being properly nourished leads to an increase in energy during the day and more calm, rested sleeping in the evenings.  Check out these top 5 foods that can help calm the body and promote a better night's sleep.

Almonds — With a good source of magnesium, a mineral that has been shown to improve sleep and muscle relaxation, almonds have made it to the top of our list.  Dark leafy greens, pumpkin seeds, and organic soybeans are also high sources of magnesium.  Additionally, almonds contain about 7g of protein per serving, which helps stabilize blood sugar throughout the course of the night.  A stable, consistent blood sugar switches your body from an alert adrenaline cycle to a rest and digest cycle.  Throw a handful of almonds into your next Blast or eat a tablespoon of almond butter an hour before bedtime.

Bananas — Can you guess what turkey and bananas have in common? They both contain tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin and melatonin.  These hormones are produced to help the body relax and calm down after a long day.  By increasing the amount of tryptophan in the diet, the body is able to produce more relaxation hormones.  Bananas are also a good source of magnesium and potassium which help relax overstressed muscles.  Use half a frozen banana in your next Blast for a creamy texture and sweet flavor!

Decaf Green Tea — Limiting daily intake of caffeine can lead to a better night's sleep.  Green tea naturally contains caffeine, but lucky for us, decaf green tea is available in most supermarkets.  Decaf green tea contains a compound called theanine, which helps promote restful sleep.  As long as the caffeine is removed, your body can access the calming properties of green tea.  Chamomile, lemongrass, and spearmint teas all aid in calming the body, leading to a better night of sleep.  Steep the tea in hot water for several minutes, let cool, and use as the liquid base in your Blasts or have a warm cup before bedtime.

Cherries — One of the most surprising options on the list is cherries.  Research from the University of Pennsylvania found that tart cherry juice naturally boosted the body's supply of melatonin, which can help people with insomnia.  Just be warned that this potent juice is very tart, so sip with caution.  It can be a great addition to any Blast or could be added to your warm cup of tea before bedtime.

Oatmeal— Using whole rolled oats in your next Blast not only tastes great but can aid in a good night's sleep.  Like almonds, oatmeal promotes stable blood sugar, allowing the body to enter the rest and digest phase of sleep. Magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, and potassium are all found in abundance in oatmeal and these nutrients are some of the most beneficial in promoting sound sleep.  You can use oats raw in your Blast or have a small bowl before bedtime to calm the body and mind.

Including the above listed foods can not only help you have more restful sleep, but can also improve the health of your body.   These foods can help clear toxic cells in the body, fight inflammation, and regulate hunger cues leading to decreased mindless snacking.  Following a balanced diet, decreasing caffeine consumption, and incorporating stress-reducing activities like yoga and meditation, are all key components to a better night of sleep.  Instead of reaching for the pills, reach for your NutriBullet and start Blasting!

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About The Author

Sarah Lefkowitz's picture

Sarah Lefkowitz, Registered Dietitian (RD) was raised in an “organic foods only” home which taught her first hand the importance of a healthy diet. She developed a passion for cooking, farmer’s markets, food nutrient composition, yoga, nutrition education, and living a healthy and active lifestyle. Her philosophy revolves around the idea of food as medicine; looking at the properties of individual foods and harnessing them into life-long health and vitality. Earning her Bachelor of Science from the Pennsylvania State University in Nutritional Science she moved to LA to study nutrition in the UCLA Medical Center Dietetic Internship Program. She has worked within health care as part of the patient care team, rounding with doctors in ICU (intensive care unit) and trauma centers. Additionally, she provided outpatient counseling in a digestive disease clinic, wound care clinic and center for geriatric health. One of her greatest accomplishments within health care, was starting a hospital funded garden in Lynwood, CA, that provided low income families with locally grown fruits and vegetables. Stepping out of health care was a highly anticipated change of pace within her career and opened her eyes to a world beyond the hospital. Working with a start-up company run by the former CEO of AOL and Myspace, presented an exciting amount of new challenges. She was involved in education, branding, social media and marketing of a widely popular woman's athletic wear company. Going further into her career she led the Los Angeles Dietetic Association as President and continues to build a community under the name FearlessFig that is focused on health and wellness, creating a support system for a healthy lifestyle.

"My passion for nutrition and helping others has taken me on an incredible journey and I want to share that with you.” 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SarahLefkowitzRegisteredDietitian
Blog: www.fearlessfig.com
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Twitter: https://twitter.com/FearlessFig

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