Sleep Hygiene: Melatonin and Nutrition

Also known as the hormone of darkness, melatonin is (as its epithet suggests) a natural hormone produced by the body that is released in response to darkness. This is one of the ways the body helps regulate its circadian rhythm, more commonly known as the ‘internal clock.’ Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland and helps to control the body’s sleep-wake cycles and if you’re one of the 2 out of 5 Australians that experience sleep difficulties, it’s likely your body doesn’t produce enough of it.

It is for this reason that melatonin supplements are often used as a sleeping aid. It has also become common knowledge in recent years that ditching the screens when winding down for bed is a good way to reduce sleep difficulty, but did you know there are also things you can add to your diet to increase your melatonin production too?

Pistachios: Not only are pistachios a fantastic natural source of melatonin, but they are also a source of vitamin B6, which is also an essential nutrient for sleep hygiene. Other nuts and seeds that are natural melatonin sources include cashews and almonds.

Fatty Fish: Like pistachios, fatty fish such as salmon and tuna contain natural melatonin and vitamin 6, amongst a host of other important nutrients.

Rice and Oats: The science behind carbohydrates and sleep is still a little vague, however rice and oats both contain the amino acid tryptophan, which the body uses to make melatonin and serotonin.

Bananas:  Bananas are a superfruit! Not only do they contain a host of antioxidants and phytonutrients, help with the production of white blood cells and strengthen our nervous system and heart health, but they are great sources of both vitamin B6 and tryptophan.

Keep these in mind next time you’re headed to the supermarket.

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