We're all after a good night's sleep — and with good reason!
"Sleep is what I would consider a master regulator of all of our bodily functions," health journalist and Genius Foods author Max Lugavere says. "Everything from how well our hearts function, our metabolism works and our brains."
"Being sleep deprived and having low-quality sleep is associated with anxiety, depression and — down the road — increased risk for Alzheimer's disease and other neurological conditions," the health expert explains.
So, how DO we get the best night's rest possible — and can what we eat really play a part?
Max says yes!
"Diet has a powerful impact on the way that we sleep," the Genius Foods author tells us.
1. Foods High In Magnesium: almonds, spinach + avocado
"When people are low in magnesium, they tend to feel more anxious, more depressed," Max says. "And people who consume magnesium tend to feel more relaxed."
"50 percent of the population doesn't consume adequate magnesium," he continues.
So, Max suggests adding almonds, spinach and avocado to your diet to get your fill. In fact, he says one handful of almonds contains about 25% of the daily magnesium requirement.
"Magnesium's duties range from helping you to create energy to helping repair against DNA damage," the health and science journalist tells us.
2. Foods With Carotenoids: colorful produce + egg yolks
"Carotenoids help your eyes protect against blue light-induced stress," Max says. (Yep, he's talking about the light emitted from screens, like your smartphone.)
When carotenoids accumulate in the brain, Max goes on, research from the University of Georgia shows us that they can actually help boost the processing speed of our brains.
So, load up your diet with colorful produce — like red and yellow peppers and kiwi — and eggs (yolks are particularly rich in carotenoids).
Oh, and get this — people who ate two kiwis a night for four weeks before bed had significantly increased sleep time, the Genius Foods author tells us. (Pro tip: Max's favorite way to eat kiwi is with the skin.)
3. Foods Rich In Vitamin B6: sunflower seeds, pistachios + meat
"Vitamin B6 helps your body — your brain, particularly — create melatonin," Max says, "which helps your body [to] wind down and get ready for sleep."
Max suggests adding sunflower seeds, pistachios and meat — like lean pork and lean beef — to your diet to boost your vitamin B6 intake.
Always check with your doctor before making changes to your diet.