For some of us, if we want to aid our sleep with food, we reach for tea or milk. Of course, you may also go for a tryptophan-rich food like turkey to help you on your way to dreamland as well. The thing most of us don’t think of is pulses. But beans, peas, chickpeas, lentils and other legumes can help you de-stress and get shuteye.
“Pulses are a great source of prebiotic fiber and phytonutrients,” said registered dietician Cristina Caro, “and can improve your overall gut health, which is also connected to hormone regulation and immune function. Improving both can lead to better quality of sleep, better quality of life and more energy to help you reach your physical and mental goals.”
A bowl of chili close to bedtime is most likely a bad idea. It could give you indigestion, and eating late at night can throw off sleep rhythm. But, eating dinner with a serving of pulses can be helpful!
As well as being rich in beneficial fiber, they are packed with folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12. Those can boost serotonin levels to help you relax and help regulate your sleep cycle. Beans and lentils are also excellent sources of tryptophan. While most of us think of turkey, it’s far from being the only source of the beneficial chemical!
Moreover, if you have blood pressure concerns, blood sugar concerns or are trying to lower your weight or LDL cholesterol, adding more pulses is the way to go! In a study, people who ate one cup a day of legumes for three months saw improvements in all of these areas. In that case, the researchers put their results down to the high level of fiber in legumes.
If you are trying to improve your sleep through diet, add more pulses into your day. But, if you are struggling with sleep, also reach out to your doctor. There can be many reasons for restless nights. If it’s an occasional problem that you want to work on yourself, you can adjust your lifestyle, diet and exercise routines. But if it has been ongoing, you should speak to your doctor. Sleep is an integral part of health. You need to be rested to be your best. Your immune system needs sleep to function correctly. Your brain needs sleep for cognition. Almost every function in your body needs rest. While lifestyle changes are an excellent step, be sure to talk to a healthcare professional to get the support you need.