Melatonin is a hormone that plays a key role in synchronizing circadian rhythms and managing your sleep/wake cycle. While young people have the highest levels, your pineal gland and gastrointestinal tract produce less of this hormone as you age. Some scientists believe that’s why older adults sleep fewer hours or go to bed and wake up earlier. Besides taking Melatonin and other sleep aids as supplements, abundant dietary resources also can improve your slumber quality (See video below).
As a potent antioxidant, melatonin also protects your body from free-radical damage and strengthens your immune system. A comprehensive review of studies shows that consuming melatonin-rich foods increases hormone levels and antioxidant status significantly. So how do you up your dietary intake? You probably know that turkey and milk cause drowsiness. But research shows that a variety of other foods also contain or produce melatonin naturally. Eat some of these every day to gain multiple benefits — including regulating your sleep patterns.
1. Enjoy Luscious Fruits
Try apples, bananas, tart cherries, tart cherry juice, Concord grapes and juice, kiwi, oranges, pineapple, pomegranate, red grapes and juice, and strawberries. Scientists found that tart cherries and tart cherry juice have the largest melatonin concentration. Other researchers measured melatonin amounts circulating throughout subjects’ bodies after eating tropical fruits. Levels increased by over 266 percent with pineapples, 180 percent with bananas, and 47 percent with oranges.
2. Savor Delicious Vegetables
The best sources include asparagus, black olives, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, celery, corn, cucumber, green olives, peppers, radishes, spinach, and tomatoes. Laboratory studies also demonstrated that melatonin provides antiproliferative, antioxidative, and immunostimulatory effects. Researchers attributed part of vegetables’ protective power against cardiovascular disease and cancer to their melatonin content. The hormone was 16 percent higher in women with the highest vegetable consumption, compared to those with the lowest.
3. Relish Tasty Grains
Rich sources of sleep-inducing melatonin include barley, barley grass, oat bran, oats, rice, spaghetti, wheat bran, wheat grass, and whole-grain bread. Many whole grains are naturally rich in tryptophan, an amino acid your body needs to produce melatonin. Add grains to your daily diet to optimize your sleep schedule.
4. Snack on Savory Nuts and Seeds
Almonds, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and walnuts increase your sleep hormone intake. After tart cherries, walnuts have the highest amount of melatonin while providing extra nutritional benefits. These super nuts contain health-enhancing vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and protein. Researchers found that walnuts’ antioxidant protection might be your secret weapon against sleeplessness nights as well as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, cardiovascular illness, and Parkinson’s disease.
5. Explore Other Helpful Options
Get creative with ginger, fresh mint, and olive oil. Calcium and magnesium are natural relaxants that contribute to melatonin production. Ginger is a culinary spice and medicinal superfood. It acts as an antioxidant with antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-clotting properties. Research shows that it improves liver function and digestion, helps lower cholesterol, and reduces motion sickness and nausea — as well as promoting peaceful sleep.