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HEALTH OUTSIDE THE BOX by Dodow

Inspired by yoga, hypnotherapy and meditation, developing Dodow immersed us into a deep study of alternative methods for fixing health problems; sleeping was just a first step.

We would like to share with you our studies, and help you discover health and well-being advice, that are easy to put into practice.

Foods that make you sleepy

One of the best ways to control your body is to control what you put inside it. And you’re lucky enough to live in a day and age where people are starting to care about the quality of our bodily fuel: whether it’s the new trend of veganism or the increasing interest of the public for organic food, it is becoming easier and easier to control what you eat… and most of all, to understand how to fall asleep fast thanks to food.

Foods that help you sleep contain tryptophan, an amino acid which combined with carbohydrates encourages your body to produce more serotonin. In turn, the serotonin synthesizes melanin, the sleep hormone.

Thus, to sleep properly one should eat things that contain either tryptophan and carbs, or just melanin. Don’t get too excited though, because tryptophan is the rarest amino acid! You will find very small quantities of it in protein foods (meat, eggs, fish, dairy products, legumes and dried fruit), but it is very fragile… and if you cook it for too long, it gets destroyed by heat!

What should you eat to fall asleep ?

  • Fish (swim in tryptophan)

Some good old codfish brandade with potatoes and parsley is the ideal meal to hit the hay at ludicrous speed with a solid dose of tryptophan and slow sugars. Other good ideas include: codfish with cream (which has milk, so more tryptophan). If you can’t stand codfish, try some cuttlefish, sturgeon or tuna.

Fish eggs are great – but we wouldn’t be surprised we'll understand if you don't have caviar at your beck and call. Hard boiled eggs are also great: the egg white contains tryptophan, but also vitamin D, which increases the quantity of serotonin in the brain. (As a bonus, eggs also put you in a good mood!)

  • Passe-partout pasta

If you think you’ve had enough of pasta with cheese, think again: while not as much a staple as the bread sandwich or the rice and beans that fed you and your broke friends during your college days, pasta has the advantage of being a solid dish of carbs and slow sugars. It also goes with everything: sprinkle on some pumpkin seeds, yellow mustard seed, soybean, flax seed, or sesame seeds with parmesan, gruyere, grated emmenthal or even goat cheese (seeds and cheese and other dairy products contain a lot of tryptophan).

If your diet has too much pasta or noodles, eat some legumes or whole grain: quinoa, oats, brown bread and brown rice, lentils, barley, bulgur, millet, popcorn, semolina, buckwheat, beans and chick peas…


  • Unnecessary meats

If you have beef salami in the fridge, you’re in luck: it’s the universal tryptophan champion with 0.9g of tryptophan for 100g of salami. Don’t like salami ? no worries, most meats will do the job, but try and prioritize boar, rabbit and veal, which have slightly more tryptophan than the others. In any case, we encourage you to eat as little meat as possible; here at Livlab we try not to eat too much meat for ethical and health reasons.

  • Nuts and fruits

Fruits with the most tryptophan are bananas, dates, mango and coconut. You can use nut oil in your salads or add the nuts as they are (almonds and cashews, pecan, pistachios and sunflower seeds).

  • Chocolate!

One or two squares of dark chocolate (70% minimum) is the best to help your body produce serotonin. The sugar inside the chocolate triggers insulin production, which pushes all amino acids towards the muscles… except the tryptophan. With a line of sight straight to the brain and nothing to stop it, you’ll up your chances of getting a maximum of serotonin.

However, be careful, you don’t want to take any more than that! Dark chocolate contains caffeine, which ups your heart rate. It’s better to take some early in the day.

  • Drinks

Infusions are a good way to prepare yourself for bed: relax with valerian, passionflower, verbena, hawthorn blossom, passiflora, lemon balm , chamomile or linden, which all have soothing properties which range from putting you to sleep to calming your anxieties.

Use water that’s rich in minerals. It contains magnesium and vitamin B6 which combined with carbs help to make serotonin.

If you want to drink something a little bit more hearty, a glass of warm milk can also bring you a good dose of extra tryptophan… otherwise, try some cherry juice! It contains straight up melanin.

Things to avoid

  • Fatty and spicy foods take too long to digest and can create digestive problems. Pimento, pepper, paprika, cumin and other “hot” spices raise your body temperature, which is counterproductive when you realize that the body cools to fall asleep.
  • Proteins have tryptophan, but everything is better in moderation. Too many proteins create an excess of tyrosine, which produces dopamine, which is a stimulant.
  • A bit of cheese on your pasta is always good, but an excess of dairy products, especially from cows, stimulates the production of mucus in the throat and clogs your respiratory route. That’s why you should avoid dairy when you have a sore throat or when you have allergies.
  • For lunch: you can allow yourself to stock up on protein because you have time to digest them. Have small portions of slow sugars, but no fast sugars!
  • For dinner: dine 2 to 3 hours before bedtime and prioritize more slow sugars and less protein. Most of all, watch out for decaffeinated drinks: they’re not entirely decaf, even though they have 10 times less caffeine that regular caffeinated drinks. Caffeine blocks the efficiency of melanin.

  • Don’t drink any alcohol (it metabolizes quickly and you will be dehydrated) or energy drinks.
  • Forget eggplants. They contain nicotine, which is a stimulant!
  • Finally, don’t take any dairy if you’re lactose intolerant (of course) but also if you fear feeling bloated or having stomach burns.

Now that you know what to eat, you’re good to go to sleep! :)


On the same topic:

Ban screens to fall asleep faster!

Stay upbeat for even better sleep!

Exercise is a great way to get tired and sleepy!

Having sex will trigger your body into a good night's sleep

Staying zen will rest your mind to help your body sleep at night

Did we mention marijuana as a sleep aid ?

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