What are the best foods for sleeping? You can probably already guess a few that aren’t good: sugar and caffeine. But did you know some foods out there can actually aid your sleep?
Cool, right? First, foods that have tryptophan, an amino acid that encourages sleep, are great. Turkey and milk are two common sources, but egg whites, shellfish and nuts are also good.
Halibut, salmon and tuna contain high levels of vitamin B6, which encourages the production of melatonin. Melatonin is a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness. Bananas are also high in B6, as are chickpeas – enjoy a big helping of hummus!
Whole grains are high in magnesium, and a lack of that mineral can make it hard to stay asleep. Calcium deficiency has also been shown to make it difficult to stay asleep, so a diet rich in leafy greens, kale (easy to grow in Alaska!) and dairy products is important.
Here are a few chicken-based recipes that could help with the busy days to sustain healthy living for a restful night’s sleep.
Light Cream Cheese Chicken
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 75 ounces fat free cream of chicken soup
- 8 ounces fat free cream cheese
- 1 ounce dry Italian dressing mix
- Place chicken, soup, cream cheese, and dressing mix in slow cooker.
- Cook on high 4-5 hours or low 8-9 hours, until chicken is cooked through.
Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings
- 4 Chicken Breasts (boneless, skinless)
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 1 Can Cream of Chicken Soup
- 1 Can Cream of Celery Soup
- 3 1/2 Cups Chicken Broth
- 1 Onion, finely diced (optional)
- 1 Cup Celery, diced
- 1 Cup Carrots, diced
- 2 Chicken bouillon cube OR natural chicken broth
- 10 Ounces can of biscuits
- EXCLUDING THE BISCUITS put all ingredients a crockpot and cook on LOW for 8 hours.
- About an hour (give or take) before serving, remove chicken and pull into pieces and return to the soup mixture.
- Place the torn biscuit dough in and cook until the dough is no longer raw in the center.
Chicken and Noodle Soup
- 5 cups of chicken broth (boxed or can is fine)
- One 10.75 oz can cream of chicken soup
- 1/2 cup onions, chopped fine
- 1/2 cup celery, chopped fine
- 1/2 cup carrots, chopped fine
- 1/2 cup green onions, sliced (optional)
- One 15 oz can of whole kernel corn, drained
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cup Egg noodles
- 2 cups cooked chicken chopped or 2 cans canned cooked chicken
- Add everything but the noodles and cooked chicken to the crock pot on low for 5-6 hours.
- For the last hour, add the add noodles and chicken so they do not soften too much.
If you find yourself more susceptible to acid reflux or indigestion from onions, leave them out of the recipes. Other foods to avoid at bedtime includes:
- Steak and other red meats can raise your cholesterol and increase your risk for obesity. And at night, these fatty foods take longer to digest making your body work hard as you try to sleep.
- Bacon releases norepinephrine, a brain stimulant, so ease up on foods with tyramine.
- Spicy food like wings or salsa are best left for lunch and possibly dinner. Depending on your body's sensitivity, spicy food can cause acid reflux or indigestion that follows you into the wee hours of the night.
By trying these healthier recipes and avoiding ones that are heavy for the tummy before bedtime, sleeping more will also create healthier eating habits. In order to build a leaner and stronger body, a full night's sleep is considered one of the most important factors.
If you find yourself reading this article and you already are checking off most of the boxes, you may need a consultation with a sleep study professional. Healthy eating and exercise alone may not be the only answer to your sleep deprivation. Call Alaska Sleep Clinic today for your free sleep assessment.