You are what you eat, and the things you eat directly impact the quality of your sleep. If you have trouble staying asleep because of your rumbling stomach, your diet might be to blame. Whether you had a heavy meal before bed or indulged in buffalo wings as a late-night snack, your food choices can influence whether or not you get a good night’s rest. Fortunately, there are some foods that help you sleep through the night.
An easy way to set yourself up for a good night’s rest is by changing your diet and making conscious food choices, especially before bedtime. But how does food influence sleep? Some foods have sleep-inducing properties because they contain amounts of tryptophan, melatonin, and serotonin, all of which can help you relax and snooze better.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 foods that help you sleep through the night and keep hunger at bay.
A bowl of oatmeal may be a breakfast classic, but it might also be the reason behind your daytime sleepiness. Oatmeal is always a nutritious choice, regardless of what time of day it is, but it might be one of the more surprising foods that help you sleep.
Not only is it packed with fiber, but oatmeal is also rich in magnesium and melatonin, both of which are known to relax the body and induce sleep. To fully reap the benefits of a nighttime bowl of oats, top your oatmeal off with a sliced banana, a drizzle of peanut butter, and some honey to taste.
2. Turkey or Chicken
If you’ve experienced the satiating joys of a Thanksgiving dinner, then you’ve likely also been hit by a food coma shortly after gorging on turkey, stuffing, and a hearty serving of pumpkin pie.
In the case of a Thanksgiving dinner, the main reason for your sleepiness might be the amount you eat, but poultry, such as turkey and chicken, also has sleep-inducing properties. This is because poultry is high in tryptophan, an amino acid linked with improving sleep quality. Turkey and chicken are good sources of lean protein, making them ideal choices for a late-night dinner or snack.
Bananas are one of the best foods that help you sleep because it’s high in potassium, a mineral that’s essential for snoozing better. Bananas also contain tryptophan and magnesium to amp up the sleeping benefits.
So in case you find yourself craving something sweet before bedtime, grab a banana or make “nice cream” by blending frozen bananas with a splash of milk.
Regular fish consumption is not only good for the brain but also for improving sleep quality. Fish, such as salmon, herring, and mackerel, contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, which are known to regulate melatonin. Research has shown that low levels of omega-3 can decelerate melatonin production, so try consuming fatty fish from time to time to fall asleep quicker.
5. Cherry Juice
Skip the glass of wine before bed and opt for tart cherry juice instead. If you don’t have any tart cherry juice, a handful of cherries can also help you achieve the same effect.
Cherries are considered one of the foods that help you sleep because they’re known to boost melatonin. In one study, subjects who drank cherry juice reported an improvement in their insomnia symptoms compared to those who drank a placebo.
6. Whole Grains
When you feel tempted to snack on a sandwich, try to make one with whole grain bread. Complex carbohydrates raise serotonin levels and encourage insulin production, which preps the body for a better night’s rest.
A yogurt parfait is more than just delicious — it can also help you sleep soundly. Yogurt contains calcium, which your brain needs to process tryptophan. To reap maximum benefits, try topping your yogurt with other foods that help you sleep, such as a few nuts, cherries or figs, and a drizzle of honey.
What’s better than unwinding with a warm cup of tea and a good book? Decaffeinated herbal teas are a common natural solution for sleepless nights.
Popular options include chamomile, peppermint, lavender, passionflower, and valerian root. Teas are considered one of the foods that help you sleep because they contain antioxidants that can reduce anxiety and promote relaxation.
9. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens are a healthy option at any time of the day, but it’s particularly beneficial at nighttime. Greens, such as kale and lettuce, are some of the best foods that help you sleep because they contain high calcium levels. Try having a salad with dinner or drink a green smoothie. Another tasty way to eat leafy greens is by having a lettuce wrap with your favorite filling.
10. Warm Milk
A glass of warm milk is arguably one of the most well-known foods that help you sleep. We can all likely remember a time when we were kids and gulped down a glass before bed night after night.
Milk is high in calcium, which can boost melatonin and regulate your sleep cycle. Aside from that, milk also has a calming effect on the body, so it’s a good drink to have if anxious thoughts are keeping you up at night.
As a general rule, it’s best to look for foods that are high in tryptophan, magnesium, calcium, and potassium, and avoid eating heavy foods before dinner. Incorporate these foods that help you sleep into your diet and start enjoying on your most comfortable mattress an uninterrupted night’s rest.