Boost Seratonin for Sounder Sleep
Boost seratonin levels, and you might reap a long list of benefits. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, insomnia is the most common sleep complaint, affecting approximately 50% of Americans. It’s no secret that insomnia can lead to irritability, trouble concentrating, confusion, and lethargy. However, it can also lead to an increased risk for diabetes and heart disease, decreased immunity and weight gain. Although a viable option, some over-the-counter sleep aids have side effects or interactions with some medicines. Some stronger sleep aids may become habit-forming over time. If you decide you would like to try a sleep medication, talk to your doctor before starting. If not, there are alternative solutions such as aromatherapy, exercise, creating a sleep schedule, reduced screen time, and eating sleep-promoting foods, like complex carbohydrates.
Yes, you read that last one right. If you’ve read the previous blog posts for this month, you already know some of the benefits of consuming whole grains. Whole grains are one type of complex carbohydrate that may also help you get a better night’s sleep.
Most people have experienced the feeling of tiredness after eating turkey on the holidays. This is due to a compound called tryptophan. With the help of carbohydrates, tryptophan is able to become the hormone serotonin, which is thought to be responsible for regulating sleep. Tryptophan cannot be made into serotonin if carbohydrates are not consumed. However, not all carbohydrates are the same, and focusing your diet on more nutritious forms of carbohydrates can have benefits beyond the pillow.
Carbohydrates can be classified into two types.
- Simple carbohydrates are broken down by the body very quickly. Nutritious foods like milk and fruit contain simple carbohydrates, but they also contain protein and fiber, respectively, which helps them be digested more slowly. Simple carbohydrates are also found in less nutritious choices like processed and sugary foods.
- Complex carbohydrates take longer to be broken down by the body. Foods like whole grains and starchy vegetables contain complex carbohydrates.
When you eat simple carbohydrates, the amount of glucose in your blood rises rapidly, which may give you a burst of energy that you don’t want around bedtime. Complex carbohydrates are broken down more slowly and do not have this effect. While it may not work for everyone, incorporating whole grains into your bedtime snack may help your body produce serotonin and allow you to nod off faster at night.