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Sleep is important. We all know that now, right? But sometimes it’s hard to fall asleep, or even stay asleep. Luckily, you don’t need to reach for any sleeping pills. Instead, just go for a pre-bedtime snack and you’ll be fast asleep in no time.
These are fifteen foods that will put you to sleep, whether they’re rich in sleep-inducing proteins or help your brain produce important sleep hormones.
Foods That Help You Sleep
A handful of almonds might be all you need to get a good night’s sleep. They’re packed with all kinds of nutrients that help you sleep: melatonin, magnesium, calcium and tryptophan to name a few. Melatonin is responsible for regulating your sleep-wake cycle, and magnesium reduces inflammation and stress levels.
Almonds are also high in protein, which helps you stay asleep. A high protein dinner or pre-bedtime snack is important so your blood sugar doesn’t drop during the night. Low blood sugar could cause you to wake up in the middle of the night.
Swap red meats for chicken or turkey for dinner. Both chicken and turkey contain tryptophan, an amino acid that increases the production of melatonin. Yes, this is one of the reasons everyone gets so tired after Thanksgiving dinners — that, plus all the other carbs you ate. Poultry is also high in protein, which can help you stay asleep.
Kiwis are thought to be one of the best foods you could possibly eat before bed. The effect of kiwis and sleep has been studied pretty extensively. One study proved those who ate two kiwi fruits an hour before bed were able to fall asleep 42% faster. It’s believed to be due to the serotonin and antioxidants found it kiwis.
One or two kiwis before bed can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
According to the American Sleep Association, eating fish for dinner could greatly enhance your sleep. Fish contains high levels of B6 — the vitamin responsible for making melatonin. Salmon, Tuna and Halibut have the highest levels of B6. By eating fish for dinner, you can get a head start on melatonin production before heading to bed!
Yogurt, cheese and milk are all great pre-bedtime snacks. They contain calcium, which is responsible for producing sleep hormones, such as melatonin and tryptophan. A lack of calcium in your diet can lead to sleep disturbances, so it’s important to make sure you’re eating enough throughout the day, not just before bedtime.
For a few healthy, sleep-inducing snacks try yogurt with granola, cheese with whole grain crackers or a tall glass of milk.
The American Sleep Association also recommends kale as one of the best foods to help you sleep. Similar to dairy, kale is also high in calcium, which is vital to producing sleep-inducing hormones.
Try eating a kale salad, sauteeing it to eat as a side or baking them in the oven for some crunchy kale chips. Other leafy greens, such as spinach and collard greens, are also a good snack.
Oatmeal is great for two reasons. One, it’s high in carbs, which are known to make you sleep. Two, it’s a whole grain, which enhances tryptophan production in the brain. It’s also a pretty healthy food on its own, whether you eat it as a snack throughout the day or a few hours before going to sleep. Drizzle some honey on top, which is another food known to enhance sleep.
8. White Rice
Eating white rice for dinner is beneficial for your sleep because the carbohydrates cause a spike in insulin, meaning you won’t wake up during the night because of low blood sugar.
It’s also a pretty well known fact carbs make you sleepy, so this is a healthy way to get the right dose of carbs without going overboard.
Bananas are high in magnesium and potassium, which both work together to fight off insomnia and improve relaxation. For a perfect pre-bedtime snack, top off whole-grain peanut butter toast with sliced bananas and honey — it’s protein rich, and full of other foods that promote sleep.
Unfortunately, Lucky Charms aren’t going to help you sleep better. A healthy, whole grain cereal does make a good snack, though. The carbohydrates will make you sleepy, while the whole grain will produce tryptophan. To make this snack even better, mix in some almonds, walnuts and honey.
Have you ever cooked breakfast for dinner? Not only is it easier than regular dinner foods, but it can actually help you sleep better. Eggs contain the amazing, sleep-inducing hormone tryptophan, and are high in protein. Combine the eggs with whole grain toast for a healthy “breakfast.”
Drinks That Help You Sleep
12. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile tea is amazing for sleep. Instead of turning to sleeping pills or food, drink a relaxing cup of hot chamomile tea. Studies show that chamomile reduces stress and anxiety, making it easier to relax and fall asleep. There are all kinds of “sleepytime” tea blends that usually contain some chamomile, but a pure chamomile tea is best.
13. Tart Cherry Juice
A 2014 study showed that a morning and evening routine of drinking tart cherry juice could help you sleep better at night. Why? It’s a natural source of melatonin, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle that’s usually triggered by light.
14. Passionflower Tea
Although passionflower tea isn’t as widely known as chamomile, studies have shown it enhances sleep quality. It’s high in antioxidants, and also increases the production of GABA — a chemical that inhibits stress producing hormones in the brain.
As I mentioned above, dairy is great for sleep because it’s high in tryptophan. Enjoying a glass of milk before bed can enhance sleep just as well as eating some cheese or yogurt can.
Getting a good night’s sleep is always important. To get all the benefits of these sleep-inducing foods, it’s best to eat two or three hours before bed. Eating too close to bedtime can cause acid reflux or an upset stomach, which could actually make it harder to sleep.
If you’ve tried these amazing sleep-inducing foods and still aren’t able to sleep well, try investing in a new mattress or overhauling your bedroom for a more peaceful environment.
What foods have you found best to help you sleep? Have any of these worked for you?