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Many foods contain natural ingredients that can provide our body with many health benefits from better digestion to healthier skin. But did you know that there are foods that make you sleep better? Yes, certain foods can actually make us sleepy and make falling asleep a breeze. Here is a list of 19 foods that can settle you down at night and improve your quality of sleep.

Almonds

Almonds

Although these guys may be small in size a handful of these guys provide a nice amount of five key ingredients that can help you sleep by naturally increasing the production of melatonin and serotonin. They contain tryptophan(the amino acid which is responsible for producing your melatonin and serotonin), magnesium, calcium, niacin, and protein.

All of these nutrients work together to help suppress your hunger, calm your nerves and muscles, and improve the way you sleep. So next time you are in need of a late night snack before bed, grab a hand full of almonds.

Bananas

banana bunch

Bananas like almonds contain tryptophan which can help your body produce the melatonin and serotonin it needs to sleep but that is not the only reason to munch on one of these at night. One banana is a great source of magnesium and potassium which is great for calming down your muscles allowing you to relax before you go to bed.

Cereal

Bowl of Cereal Isolated on White Overhead View

There are some of us who already like to grab a bowl of cereal before we go to bed and think it is a perfect snack and then there are some of us who think cereal is for breakfast. But there may be a reason you will realize that there is nothing wrong with both sides of this table.

There are some properties in a bowl of cereal that can actually make eating a bowl of cereal 30 minutes to an hour before bed a great way to help you sleep better at night. For one, the milk contains tryptophan just like bananas and almonds. The other reason is if you eat a cereal full of carbs it will help keep you full through the night.  Have you ever tried to sleep hungry?

Just make sure you pick a cereal that is not so sugary that you raise your blood sugar and you wonder why you can’t fall asleep. Hey, try adding a banana for an added kick. Or you can eat a nice warm bowl of oatmeal.

Chamomile Tea

Cup of tea with lemon, mint and chamomile flower

There should be no surprise to anyone as to why this drink would be included on this list. For one, a hot cup of tea has been known to be a great choice as a way to help calm and soothe the body after a long stressful day and chamomile tea is known for it’s calming properties.

Chamomile tea is a common herbal tea in many woman’s cupboards because it aids with achy tummies, menstrual cramps, and helps calm anxiety. But drinking a cup before bed can provide your body the relaxation it needs to help make dosing off easier.

Cheese 

Cheese tray

I am sure you have been told how drinking a warm glass of milk before bed can make you sleepy, well, truthfully all dairy has the same effect. The reason being the tryptophan that these dairy products contain. So next time you want to make yourself feel drowsy and you don’t feel like drinking some warm milk, try some cheese and crackers, yogurt, or a bagel with cream cheese.

Cherry Juice

cherry

 

According to research from the University of Pensylvania, a glass of this tart cherry juice could help make you fall asleep faster. That is because cherries have the ability to naturally boost our melatonin levels. The study showed an improvement in the insomnia symptoms of the patients of those who drank the cherry juice versus those who took a placebo pill.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate provides many health benefits from stress relief to cramp relief but it also has the ability to help you fall asleep. That is because it contains serotonin. This is strange because it also contains caffeine. But weird enough milk chocolate doesn’t contain serotonin so for all you milk chocolate lovers, I guess you better make the switch and try some dark chocolate.

Honey

Honey

Honey is great for your tea, soothing to your cough, but can it be used as a means to help you fall asleep faster? Well, according to research honey helps you sleep two ways; it helps your liver keep an adequate supply of glycogen as you sleep, and it triggers a spike in insulin which causes our brains to release tryptophan which helps release melatonin.

Glycogen is made from leftover glucose and it gives our bodies energy. After eating dinner we will have used up half of our bodies supply of glycogen leaving us less than needed for eight hours of sleep. But by eating honey before bed you can restock the liver.

 

Hummus

Bowl of hummus with cilantro and lemon

The main ingredient in hummus, garbanzo beans, are rich in folate, B6, and tryptophan.  Folate deficiency has been linked to insomnia and B6 can help you have normal sleep-wake cycles and a deficiency in B6 is said to cause sleep disturbances. So next time instead of reaching for unnatural substances to help you sleep reach for a bowl of hummus before you go to bed.

Kale

Kale

Kale, as well as spinach(and all the dark leafy greens), are both packed with calcium and calcium helps your body generate one of the things it needs to sleep – tryptophan. Yes, calcium helps your body produce melatonin. But this may seem like a weird snack before bed but there are actually some cool ways to eat it.

kale chips

Want more Kale Recipes?

 

Kiwi

Kiwi isolated

Known for its antioxidant power, this little fruit is a great source of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, folate, and potassium.  They are also a great source of fiber. But how does tangy tasting kiwi help you sleep? That is because just like dark chocolate, this fuzzy guy contains serotonin and high amounts of it too.

Lettuce

Leaf of green Romaine lettuce with white background

If you are having trouble sleeping at night, you may want to start adding a crisp side salad to your dinner at night. Lettuce contains a substance that can help sedate your nervous system called lactur carium. It may not be a traditional bedtime snack but it sure is a healthy one.

 

Passion Fruit

Passion fruit

These antioxidant-packed fruits are known to help with anxiety and we all know an anxious mind can keep you up at night. But that isn’t the only way these fruits can help you sleep. Both passion fruit and passion flower contain the sedative compound Harman. Harman is said to naturally treat restlessness, insomnia, and even lower blood pressure. Now that is one passionate little fruit! 😉

Pretzels

Pretzels in a pile isolated on white

Pretzels are no newcomer when it comes to the late night snack category,  I mean they might as well be the potato chips cousin. But these little guys are so salty you will probably get fuller from your drink then you will from the lack of calories they contain. That’s not to say they won’t make you sleepy, because they have a high glycemic level and they will naturally spike your insulin level and blood sugar level. This will trigger the production of tryptophan which will help make you fall asleep. Of course, this snack isn’t something that is recommended for diabetics.

Rice

Rice in a wooden bowl

Rice is inexpensive and it is probably in your cupboard right now. But did you know that according to research, eating rice four hours before you go to bed can help you sleep better? That is because just like pretzels, rice has a high glycemic level which can spike your blood sugar.

However, it is important to note that a high glycemic diet is linked to health problems such as obesity, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers. So, I am not saying go eat a bunch of rice every night.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potato

Sweet potatoes, now I may prefer a good old russet potato myself, but I can’t deny the benefits of these sweet little guys. They are packed with potassium which is great for getting those worked up muscles relaxed and they are full of sleep-promoting carbohydrates. So the next time I have Thanksgiving dinner I guess I better reach for the sweet potato pie instead of the pumpkin.

 

Tuna

Fresh Tuna Steak

Tuna (as well as any other fish) provides a great source of protein and Omega 3 fatty acids. However, certain fish like tuna, salmon, and halibut are also rich in vitamin B6 which helps your body make melatonin and serotonin. They contain the highest levels of tryptophan, even more than turkey.

Turkey Meat

Thanksgiving Turkey

You ever noticed how eating Thanksgiving dinner makes you sleepy? Well, it wasn’t because you ate too much food or because your mom’s cooking was so good it knocked you off your feet. Okay, maybe that last part could be true because I know my moms cooking can knock my socks off, lol.

But truthfully, turkey contains that same little guy I have repeated a few times already in this post that you should know how to spell by now – tryptophan. Okay, who am I kidding, even I can’t spell it still. So now you know that the myth is not a myth, turkey does really make you sleepy. But you can tell mom it is her cooking 😉

Walnuts

Wallnuts isolated on white background

Now don’t go nuts on me when I tell you why walnuts can help make you sleep better because you may have guessed it already. Just like turkey, walnuts contain…drum roll, please…tryptophan. With how many foods contain this amino acid, I am surprised we don’t walk around like zombies, haha.

Not only can a handful of these help you relax and get a better night’s sleep they may be able to help take some of those extra pounds off of your waistline. Plus, you get the added protection to your heart and arteries and prevention of gallstones. So get crackin!

 

Conclusion

Many people suffer from insomnia which can often be linked to poor sleeping habits, medication side effects, lack of exercise, poor diets, depression, or chronic illnesses. Often the first choice for treatment is to reach for unhealthy sleep aids without trying to use natural remedies. Sleep aids are only temporary and don’t solve the issue.

It is always best to find out what is causing your insomnia in the first place. Talk with your doctor to try to find a course of action. You may need to simply change your diet, medications, or add exercise. These foods are simple tweaks that can help increase the production of melatonin but if there is an underlying health issue they may not help.

Were you surprised by any of the items on this list? Speak your mind below!

10 thoughts on “19 Foods That Make You Sleep Better”

  1. Hi Melissa
    I really loved reading through this useful list. It’s pretty much all the food I like (bar passion fruit). I’ll try to increase my intake of these foods, and hope it will help me with my SAHM-looking-after-toddler-twins stress ehhehehe
    Best,
    Alenka

    1. Hi Alenka,
      I can only imagine how dealing with twins can be. Now you will have some great snacks to help make sleep easier but you will only need something to help with energy hehe. Thanks for the comment!

  2. Hi, I never realised eating the right foods could help me sleep better! Many of these foods are part of my natural diet, but not something I would eat later in the day. Thanks to you I am now changing that.

    1. Hi Sharon,
      It is amazing how foods help you in so many different ways. I am glad this list is useful to you and I would love for to hear your progress later.

  3. Some great foods here im a big believer in chamomile tea! anything that includes melatonin or serotonin is great for helping you sleep and combat insomnia. I used to suffer with it all the time, now with a better diet it doesn’t bother me as much. A great thing thats helped me is a supplement called liposomal melatonin, its concentrated melatonin which you take 15 mins before bed and you get a great sleep!

    1. Hi Kourtney,
      Changing your diet is very effective at improving your health in many ways. I have tried a melatonin supplement before but it didn’t help me(my doctor recommended it0> For me, I get the most help from my diet. I am right with you on the chamomile tea, it stays in my cabinet. 🙂

  4. Hi Melissa,

    Great article! I have used kale only for juicing, I was not aware about the calming effects. Good to know!
    Again, almonds, one of may favorites, but I didn’t knew about the calming effect
    Sometimes, it’s hard to get sleep and thanks to your article I have some handy helpers to get a good night sleep.

    1. Hi Maria,
      Yes, kale is great for juicing and almonds are delicious and now you have another reason to use them. I am glad this article will be useful for you. Thanks for the comment!

  5. Hey Melissa, my wife & I are both very light sleepers nowadays and wake-up many times through the night meanwhile our lack of exercise has spurred us to evaluate our lifestyles in order to make some notable improvements regarding health and sleep.

    We blend kiwi-fruit with spinach and banana into a smoothie which tastes superb and is ultra healthy but we’re both searching the web for some tasty yet healthy nibble ideas we can eat on an evening before going to bed rather than consuming the takeaways and other junk type foods that cause our insomnia and weight gain.

    Those low carb Nacho Kale Chips sound fab, just the type of healthy nibbly yet tasty snacks we’re looking for meanwhile clicking your link’s opened up an abundance of Kale recipes which all appear highly tempting – the beauty of the web.
    Thanks for all your recommendations to improve sleep,
    Simon.

    1. Hi Simon,
      I am sorry to hear that you and your wife are light sleepers. I can relate because I have been a light sleeper since I was a young child. In fact, my husband jokes and says I could wake up from a mouse. But what has been helpful for me is using the white noise trick. The sound of my fan or rain really helps me sleep. I love the hotter months because I have an excuse to sleep with my fan and it is pretty loud.

      There are main different white noises that help people from wind, to waves, to even thunderstorms. So maybe one of those could help you and your wife. Yes, the kale chips do sound fab and they are a great way to change things up. I wish you and your wife all the best and thanks for sharing your story.

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