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Need to sleep better? Check out 10 foods that are sources of melatonin

You wake up feeling like you’re not getting enough rest; you have trouble falling asleep or you wake up several times during the night. These are some signs of sleep deprivation and there are several factors that can contribute to this scenario: stress, anxiety, a sedentary lifestyle and some health conditions such as sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome and bruxism.

Furthermore, diet also plays an important role in the quality of sleep. After all, foods such as coffee, chocolate, mate tea, black tea, soft drinks, pepper, ginger and energy drinks, when consumed in excess or close to bedtime, can disrupt sleep, as they are stimulants.

In addition to this, a study published in 2007 in Nutrition Research Reviews showed that people who sleep less are more likely to become obese, since the lack of sleep can increase ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and reduce leptin, the satiety hormone, leading to increased appetite. All of this can lead to long-term health problems.

“Poor quality sleep increases the risk of heart attack by 40% to 45% and the risk of stroke by 30%,” says Annibal Barros Junior, cardiologist and specialist in nutrology, CNN . “Having a full night’s sleep, with REM sleep, which is deep sleep, is important for cardiovascular protection. Sleep deprivation can lead to the development of cardiovascular diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and insulin resistance, for example,” he adds.

In light of this, there are some foods that, together with other healthy habits that promote relaxation, can help you sleep better and reduce the risks associated with sleep deprivation. Find out more below.

10 foods that are rich in melatonin

Melatonin is a hormone that plays an important role in the onset of sleep and in regulating the circadian rhythm (the “clock” that regulates our body between day and night). This hormone is produced by the pineal gland, located in our brain.

“It has a peak of action at night, during sleep, and returns to normal in the morning, with the presence of light,” explains Barros Junior. Therefore, it is important to sleep in dark environments to increase melatonin production.

In addition, some foods can be sources of this hormone or help increase its levels in the body. With the help of a nutritionist and Melissa Rotatori, a specialist and professor of the Nutrition course at UDF (University Center of the Federal District), CNN listed 10 foods that can help regulate your sleep. Check them out below:

  1. Meat : sources of animal protein, such as salmon, chicken, pork and beef, contain melatonin in their composition;
  2. Mushrooms : they are also sources of melatonin, in addition to being rich in vitamin B12, an essential nutrient for maintaining the nervous system;
  3. Pineapple : has melatonin-stimulating properties, in addition to promoting an increase in the hormone serotonin, responsible for the feeling of well-being;
  4. Orange : citrus fruit with a high melatonin content, in addition to being rich in vitamin C, a nutrient with antioxidant properties that are essential for strengthening the immune system;
  5. Banana : its composition contains tryptophan (an amino acid that acts in the synthesis of melatonin), melatonin, serotonin and magnesium, a nutrient that acts on the neuromuscular system and in relieving stress and anxiety.
  6. Cherry : fruit rich in tryptophan and melatonin, in addition to being rich in vitamins C and A, nutrients with important antioxidant action;
  7. Kiwi : fruit rich in tryptophan, helping to increase the production of melatonin, in addition to having antioxidant properties and acting to strengthen the immune system;
  8. Whole grains: sources of tryptophan, which, in addition to acting in the synthesis of melatonin, acts in the production of serotonin, increasing the feeling of well-being.
  9. Milk : it is also a source of tryptophan, acting in the production of serotonin and melatonin;
  10. Eggs : another source of animal protein that has a large amount of melatonin; a study published in 2017 in Nutrients showed that its hormone content is even higher than in other foods of animal origin.

These foods can be consumed at any time of the day. However, for those who want to improve the quality of their sleep, consuming them at night may be a good suggestion.

“The ideal is to consume them at the same time as peak melatonin production, which occurs at the beginning of the evening, when natural light decreases, reaching a peak a few hours after nightfall,” says Rotatori.

Are melatonin supplements safe? When are they recommended?

According to the nutrition professor, melatonin-based dietary supplements can help promote sleep and are safe for short-term use. “However, the main studies have shown significant benefits in people aged 55 and older who received extended-release melatonin,” she explains. However, she stresses that caution is needed: “[Seu uso] can cause side effects, such as headache, dizziness, nausea and drowsiness,” he says.

Rotatori also points out that before starting melatonin supplementation or other nutrients that can help with sleep (such as magnesium, inositol and tryptophan), it is necessary to investigate the causes of insomnia and undergo a nutritional assessment to identify specific nutritional deficiencies. “For example, although alcohol may help some people fall asleep more quickly, it can actually increase nighttime awakenings and reduce the quality of sleep,” he comments.

Beyond nutrition: other important tips for improving sleep quality

Although nutrition plays a fundamental role in the quality of sleep, it should be combined with other practices that help promote a good night’s sleep. This includes regular physical activity and sleep hygiene before bed.

“Avoiding screens such as cell phones, television and tablets at least one hour before bed, and keeping the bedroom completely dark, is an example of sleep hygiene,” explains Rotatori.

Melatonin use for sleep is increasing, but it poses risks

Source: CNN Brasil

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