5 Sleep-Friendly Foods for Pregnancy

Pretty much everyone is ready for a nap after Thanksgiving dinner, but you can’t exactly baste a turkey every day. Expectant and new parents need more convenient ways to improve their diet for better sleep.

We love how smoothies, like the ones from our friends at GreenBlender, combine easy prep, nutritious ingredients, and kid-friendly flavors and textures. (Ask your pediatrician about when to introduce ingredients like yogurt and nuts into your older baby’s diet.) The following ingredients not only blend well, but also offer nutrients that can lead to deeper sleep.

1. Dairy

A mug of warm milk is a classic bedtime beverage, and with good reason. Dairy contains tryptophan, an amino acid that helps your brain produce the sleep hormone melatonin. Dairy’s mild flavor and creamy texture can be a soothing way to relax.

Milk and yogurt also famously contain calcium. Pregnant women need extra doses of this bone-strengthening mineral to build their baby’s skeleton without depleting Mom’s calcium stores.

2. Berries

There isn’t one perfect food or drink that helps you fall asleep, but certain healthy nutrition habits contribute toward better rest. In particular, some studies found that diets with higher fiber and lower sugar consumption could lead to deeper, more restful sleep.

Enter berries! Raspberries and blackberries offer satisfying, sweet-tangy flavor while containing less sugar than many other fruits plus 8 grams of fiber per cup. Strawberries and blueberries are also great choices. Many berries are less acidic than other grocery store staples like citrus fruits. If you or your baby is prone to acid reflux, swapping your orange juice in the morning for strawberries may be a better way to add fruit to your breakfast.

3. Bananas

The cheery yellow fruit has tryptophan, too. What’s more, the potassium in bananas helps act against muscle cramps. Leg cramps are a common pregnancy complaint, so a snack that can combat aches and pains is a welcome treat.

Bananas are a good source of dietary fiber, and they’re easy on the stomach. In a smoothie, they have the additional benefit of adding a creamier, thicker texture. Tip: Freeze ripe bananas in advance, and you can use less ice.

4. Almonds

Low levels of magnesium are linked with sleep disorders and difficulty relaxing. Experts recommend getting this mineral from your diet, because the superdoses you’re likely to find in a supplement can interact badly with certain medications or cause uncomfortable side effects.

Not only are almonds a great source of magnesium, but they provide healthy fats, protein, and calcium.

One bonus effect of eating almonds regularly is they may have a positive effect on your milk supply. Almonds are one of the top lactogenic foods, which are thought to help promote your body’s milk production. If raw almonds aren’t your jam, try a tablespoon or two of almond butter, or try almond milk instead of dairy milk.

Want to get a magnesium boost, but you or your baby can’t eat nuts? Try spinach. The leafy green is loaded with magnesium and other vitamins. Baby spinach, with its milder flavor, may be virtually undetectable once it’s blended with your favorite fruits.

5. Water

You may not always think of water as part of your diet, but staying properly hydrated can have a huge impact on your health and sleep quality. Dehydration can lead to leg cramps, dry nasal passages (which can increase the chance of nosebleeds), and snoring, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

During pregnancy, your blood volume increases by about 50%, not to mention the amniotic fluid that cushions and protects your developing baby. Staying hydrated with plenty of water and water-rich foods is essential for your overall health during pregnancy. Keep a water bottle nearby during the day, but scale back in the two hours before you go to bed so you’re not up as often to use the bathroom. Fixing a light snack before bed (maybe something with hydrating fruit in it) can keep your stomach from growling, without overwhelming your digestive system with a big meal.

What you eat does a lot more than fill your stomach. Food can affect your energy, mood, and ability to get quality sleep. These tasty options can help you make great choices, from breakfast to bedtime snack.

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