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Most people love the holidays – the music…the decorations…the special family traditions…and of course, the goodies. But all of this holiday spirit can come with a price, and that price is stress. Whether you’re getting your house ready to host guests, traveling, shopping for gifts, doing extra cooking or attending yet another school pageant, finding the time to get it all done can leave you feeling anxious, which can cause you to lose sleep.
Luckily, there are lots of ways to naturally calm your body before you hit the hay. If you put a couple drops of lavender essential oil on your pillowcase at night or stop looking at digital screens after 9 p.m., you’re already ahead of the game. But, did you know that eating your fruits and vegetables is also another way?
Certain fruits and vegetables contain melatonin, a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the brain. Melatonin helps regulates your circadian rhythm, letting you know when it’s time to sleep. If you’ve ever felt so tired you could barely keep your eyes open, that was melatonin doing its job.
Tart cherries naturally contain melatonin. In fact, a recent study found that tart cherry juice helped older folks suffering from chronic insomnia sleep better. Seniors who drank tart cherry juice fell asleep a few minutes faster and spent 17 fewer minutes awake during the middle of the night than those who drank cherry Kool-Aid. Additionally, follow up studies found drinking tart cherry juice, as well as eating whole tart cherries, boosted blood levels of melatonin.
Other fruits and vegetables that contain melatonin include tomatoes, orange bell peppers, raspberries and goji berries.
Melatonin isn’t the only calming compound found in fruits and vegetables though. Some others include magnesium and potassium. These two essential minerals help your muscles relax. So when you’re low on either, it can be hard to sleep. Magnesium may also reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Bananas are a great source of magnesium (15% of the daily value, or DV) and an excellent source of potassium (23% of the DV). This recipe for banana cinnamon tea sounds like a wonderful way to get sleepy!
One last fruit to consider before bedtime is passionfruit, which contains the natural sedative passiflorine. If you’ve ever heard of using passionflower tea as a sleep aid, the similar names are not a coincidence. Passionfruit grows on some species of passionflower vines.
What are your favorite fruits and vegetables that help you sleep well? Comment below!