June 19th, 2019

Eat to Beat: INSOMNIA!

Catch those ZZZs


5 unexpected foods to help you get a better night’s sleep

Is a night spent tossing and turning your normal? You’re not alone; according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in every three adults in America report getting less than the recommended seven (plus) hours of sleep each night (CDC). In addition to making weight loss efforts more of a challenge, inefficient shut eye increases risk for diabetes, heart disease, depression and obesity.

Don’t reach for the Nyquil just yet. Not only does getting a good night sleep correlate with weight management success, but eating right can actually help you to sleep better too. The following foods will help you to get more shut eye – and all you have to do is eat them. Here’s 5 foods (that aren’t turkey) that can help you wind down, get in bed and get a more restful night’s sleep. 


You may have heard of people taking “melatonin” to help them sleep. Melatonin is the hormone responsible for our sleep-wake cycle, and tart cherries are a natural source of it, so they’re great for helping you catch more ZZZs. A 2012 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition showed that subjects who drank tart cherry juice for seven days slept longer and better compared to those who didn’t. To fit tart cherry juice into your diet, look for a variety without any added sugar and try blending into your afternoon 20/20 smoothie, with Vanilla 20/20 FIBER/PROTEIN powder and unsweetened almond milk. The sweetness and creaminess from the 20/20 powder and almond milk neutralizes the tartness of the cherry juice.


When it comes to sleep-inducing fare, turkey (and Thanksgiving) is almost always first to mind because of the essential amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, the calming hormone. Serotonin induces feelings of happiness and relaxation, which makes it easier for you to unwind from your day. But despite the stereotype, turkey isn’t the only food that contains tryptophan. Beef, chicken, pork, game meats, seafood, seeds and eggs–essentially all protein-based foods–contain good amounts of tryptophan too. Lamb, specifically, is one protein that contains more tryptophan per gram than the Thanksgiving bird. 


Lamb and elk not your thing? Garbanzo beans are also a great source of tryptophan… not to mention easier to find. They’re also a pretty good source of fiber, which according to research can also have a positive effect on our sleep. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, tracked food intake and sleep patterns of 26 adults over the course of five nights and found that those who ate more fiber experienced deeper and more restorative stages of sleep. For a savory sleep-encouraging snack with these legumes check out our recipe for Spiced Garbanzo Beans on page 234 of the F-Factor Diet book.


Pumpkin seeds are also a natural source of tryptophan and contain magnesium, which among other benefits, promotes muscle relaxation and lowers levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Mix a handful of salt-free pumpkin seeds into your salad at lunch or dinner for added crunch, or sprinkle atop 20/20 muffins before popping them in the oven and have one for dessert.


As if you needed more reason for a sushi night, both tuna and salmon are full of vitamin B6 and thus can benefit your sleep. This is because vitamin B6 is necessary for the production of melatonin in the body. Melatonin not only helps you fall asleep, but promotes a higher quality sleep, leaving you feeling more rested than ever. Not up for hitting the sushi bar? Grill salmon for dinner or make Tanya Zuckerbrot’s Egg-White Tuna Salad (recipe on page 190 in the F-Factor Diet Book).


Sweet dreams, F-Factor Friends!

“CDC Newsroom.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0215-enough-sleep.html.