Ok, so it's pretty common knowledge that we need to change our Standard American Diet (it's appropriately abbreviated SAD) for many reasons, but sleep issues could be one of the most important. Adding more fruits and vegetables could be one answer.
The average American sleeps 6.8 hours a night—with 40 percent getting less than six hours. In 2014, the CDC labeled sleep deprivation a public health epidemic—with over 70 million adults suffering from a sleep disorder. Sleep is a problem and definitely one that needs to be addressed.
Here are some tips for adding more fruits and vegetables into your diet to ensure better sleep:
1. Don't eat proteins (tofu, beans, lentils, etc) in the evening. Do eat them for breakfast.
Protein takes longer to digest so your body will be up working late if you eat protein in the evening.
2. Do eat more plant based calcium in the evenings.
Calcium is mostly overlooked when it comes to sleep inducing foods but adding foods such as leafy green vegetables such as kale and collard greens, sesame seeds, or almonds into your nighttime diet can help get the needed calcium in. Calcium calms the nervous system and converts tryptophan into seratonin which is converted into melatonin - a necessity for sleep.
3. Add in melatonin inducing berries as a bedtime snack.
Certain berries such as raspberries and blackberries naturally have melatonin making them an excellent bedtime snack.
4. Add in more Omega-3s.
Omega-3 fatty acids help mental health so that right there helps sleep because you're not up all night worrying or in a funk, but they also help with melatonin production so sleep quality and quantity is better as well. Omega-3s are mostly found in fish, yes, but there are plenty of plant based options - such as algae, sunflower, pomegranate seed, tomato seed, and more - that don't have the potential for toxicity as fish may. Plus, plant based options are getting you the omegas right from the source. Where do you think the fish get them from?
5. You may want to add in soy products.
Wait, what?! Isn't soy bad? Not exactly. Some forms, and the ones that are widely used in America, can be, but adding in whole and minimally processed soy foods, including tofu, soy milk, edamame, and miso can help lengthen sleep duration if eaten regularly. And don't just take my word for it on whether or not soy is bad. Here's an article by Dr. Jim Sears.
Do you find that how you eat affects how you sleep?
Allesanda received her Bachelors in Behavioral Science from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in December 2013. She now lives in North Texas with her husband and three children. As a maternal support practitioner and educator of family sleep and eco-friendly living, she blogs about family sleep, wellness, nutrition, pregnancy, birth, postpartum, holistic health, and parenting.