Melatonin Rich Foods to Help you Sleep
Foods High in Melatonin
What is Melatonin?
- Melatonin is a hormone.
- Melatonin is made by the pineal gland.
- Melatonin controls wake and sleep patterns.
Although the body produces melatonin, it is also found in foods and is available as a supplement. While some foods may not contain melatonin, they can trigger its production. Also, light and age can affect melatonin production.
Light: Winter months produce shorter days and affects how and when melatonin is produced. This can induce symptoms of, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). And it can also lead to winter depression. Interestingly, lack of melatonin does affect the blind. The blind cannot see light and therefore, it affects their respective melatonin production.
Age: We usually produce less melatonin as we age. This usually affects sleep length in the elderly. It is not uncommon for this population to wake earlier or to have irregular sleep patterns. This is usually due to lack of melatonin or irregular production of melatonin.
Supplements: Supplements have been used to control insomnia, improve the effects of jet lag and to support the non-traditional sleep patterns of those exposed to evening work shifts.
ADHD and Autism: Melatonin has also aided in improving sleep patterns for those with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism.
Common Side Effects with Melatonin Supplementation
- Untimely drowsiness.
- Lower body temperature. You may feel cold.
- Vivid and profound dreams.
- Groggy upon waking. Slow to rise and gain alertness.
- May slightly alter normal blood pressure readings. Higher or lower.
Melatonin is proven to be effective in treating jet lag symptoms
Srinivasan, Venkataramanujam, et al. "Jet Lag: Use of Melatonin and Melatonergic Drugs." Melatonin and Melatonergic Drugs in Clinical Practice. Springer India, 2014. 367-378.
Jet lag symptoms
- fatigue (daytime)
- lack of alertness
- loss of appetite
- poor physical coordination (psychomotor)
- weakend cognitive skills
Improve the Effects of Jet Lag:
Did you know you can reduce jet lag and adjust your body clock with melatonin rich foods?
Plus, foods rich in carbs may help adjust your biological clock when you travel. How is that for a nice excuse to add spaghetti, whole grain bread, or oatmeal to your diet while traveling? Bon apetite!
Want to learn more? Check out studies in chrononutrition.
"Time-restricted feeding or a balanced breakfast can powerfully entrain and thus amplify circadian clocks." Oike, Hideaki, Katsutaka Oishi, and Masuko Kobori. "Nutrients, Clock Genes, and Chrononutrition." Current Nutrition Reports (2014): 1-9.
28 Foods that Contain or Naturally Produce Melatonin in the Body
You may be surprised to see coffee, tea, wine and beer on this list. Research shows remarkably high levels of melatonin in these items. The origin comes from the plants used to produce these products. Melatonin is synthesized in the plants that produce coffee, tea, wine and beer. However, coffee beans and tea leaves naturally contain caffeine.
Foods containing melatonin or induce the natural production of melatonin:
- tart cherry juice
- fennel seeds
- grape juice
- sunflower seeds
- sweet corn
Jet lag foods: A suggested food list
- Banana: Have a banana about an hour before your new bedtime, this will help kickstart the tryptophan and melatonin through your system.
- Protein: A small omelet with cheese can help do the trick, or bowl of cottage cheese with a pineapple topping can also help you find your zzzzz's at the right time.
- Almonds: A handful of almonds make for a great evening snack. Plus, they are great for aiding your body with serotonin levels and anxiety. And they are a rich source of magnesium too!
Hmmm, a small bowl of cottage cheese with a banana and pineapple topping really does sound like a nice evening snack.
How to Fall Asleep Faster
Interesting Facts About Foods: Tryptophan, Serotonin and Melatonin
Brief Review and Overview
- Tryptophan: is an amino acid that triggers serotonin.
- Serotonin: is a hormone that relaxes the body and triggers melatonin production.
- Melatonin: is a hormone that induces sleep and wake patterns.
Amino acids, serotonin and tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid. The body uses tryptophan to induce and maintain serotonin production. Serotonin calms the mind and body. Tryptophan together with serotonin triggers the production of melatonin.
Serotonin is vital to mood and relaxation. A disrupted production of serotonin and its absorption can lead one to have issues with depression and insomnia. Most anti-depressants are created to support the development and absorption of serotonin.
Examples of how the amino acid, tryptophan induces serotonin and melatonin in foods, such as milk and turkey.
Can't Sleep? Have a glass of warm milk. It is not uncommon to hear a glass of warm milk may induce sleep. Here is why:
Milk: Milk contains the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan converts to 5-HTP, which then induces the release of serotonin. Serotonin calms the mind and relaxes the body. Serotonin triggers the release of the hormone, melatonin. Plus, the calcium in milk is said to also induce sleep. Interestingly, human breast milk is said to already contain melatonin. Breastfeeding also promotes the release of serotonin in the mother. This mutual cycle and effect calms and soothes the mother and breastfeeding child.
Turkey: Turkey is well known for its sleep inducing qualities. This is due to a turkey's significantly high level of tryptophan.
Protein: A word about protein. A high protein meal introduces the amino acid tyrosine to the body. Tyrosine is known to keep the mind alert. You may want to consider balancing any late night high protein meals with carbohydrates if sleeping patterns are an issue.
Dr. Oz.: How to Calculate your Bedtime
Melatonin Research and Interesting Findings
There have been positive results in melatonin research. Further studies are still needed. Current areas of research:
- Melatonin may strengthen our immune system.
- Melatonin may help slow the spread of cancer and possibly stop it in some cases.
- Melatonin therapy may be an effective treatment for, Seasonal Effective Disorder (SAD) and general winter depression.
- Melatonin may improve sleep patterns in cardiac patients taking Beta-Blockers. A common side-effect of Beta-Blockers is insomnia and daytime fatigue.
- Melatonin may reduce the risk of ischemic stroke.
- Melatonin has been shown to reduce, Chronic Cluster Headaches.
- Breastfeeding may improve nocturnal sleep and reduce infantile colic. Lactating mother's produce melatonin in their breast milk. In an interesting study published by the Journal Psychsomatic Research, found that laughter elevated the levels of melatonin in breast milk.
Content of melatonin and other antioxidants in grape-related foodstuffs: measurement using a MEPS-HPLC-F method, Journal of Pineal Research, 2012
Melatonin ameliorates neural function by promoting endogenous neurogenesis through the MT2 melatonin receptor in ischemic-stroke mice. PubMed.gov 2012
Functional roles of melatonin in plants, and perspectives in nutritional and agricultural science. Journal of Experimental Botany 2011
Breastfeeding may improve nocturnal sleep and reduce infantile colic: Potential role of breast milk melatonin. European Journal of Pediatrics 2012Efficacy and safety of prolonged-release melatonin for insomnia in middle-aged and elderly patients with hypertension: a combined analysis of controlled clinical trials. National Institutes of Health 2012
Disclaimer: Information in this hub is research based however, the information provided in this hub should not be construed as personal medical advice or instruction. Please consult a physician for medical and dietary advice and treatment. Melatonin supplementation and insomnia related disorders should not be assumed or treated without the supervision of a medical professional.
© 2012 Marisa Hammond Olivares