Most of us enjoy a bedtime snack, but what you eat may be contributing to a poor night’s sleep.
It is important to choose your snack, your timing, and the amount you eat very carefully.
Ideally, you should stop eating 30-60 minutes before bed, and the snack you choose should be a small portion.
You should also choose a snack that will actually promote a good night’s sleep.
So what are the best foods for helping you sleep better? Check out our list below!
1. Tart Cherry Juice
Tart cherries are a fantastic bedtime snack because they help your body produce more melatonin, the hormone that controls your circadian rhythm (source). More melatonin in your system helps you fall asleep faster.
You can eat tart cherries plain throughout the day, or have a cup of unsweetened cherry juice before you head to bed.
Like cherries, walnuts contain melatonin, but they are also high in tryptophan, an amino acid that helps you to fall asleep (source). Keep in mind though, that tryptophan works even better to help you fall asleep when it is combined with carbohydrates.
Besides tryptophan, walnuts are also packed with omega-3s and antioxidants, which makes them overall a healthy food.
Try eating a handful of walnuts before bedtime. They are also great when added to a bowl of yogurt. Which leads us to our next food…
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Turns out that warm milk can help you fall asleep at night (source)! Dairy products contain both protein and tryptophan, which help you to sleep better.
Try greek yogurt with walnuts and tart cherries (you’ll get the benefits of all of the top sleep foods!). To help reduce sugar intake, look for unsweetened yogurt. If you can’t resist a little bit of sweetness, you can drizzle honey over the top. Eat 30 minutes before bed.
For those who can’t tolerate dairy, almond-based products are a great alternative, as almonds are also very high in tryptophan. So give almond milk, or almond yogurt, a try!
Turkey is famous for inducing post-Thanksgiving naps, so it’s not surprising that it is on our list. Due to high amounts of tryptophan, turkey is a great option for a pre-bed snack.
As mentioned earlier, make sure to eat something that contains carbs when consuming foods with tryptophan, as this will increase its effectiveness (source).
Try wrapping a turkey cold cut around a piece of cheese for a quick pre-bedtime snack. The tryptophan + carbs will having you snoozing in no time!
5. Raw Honey
Raw honey is a good food to eat before bed due to the fact that it contains a high amounts of carbs. Remember, high carb foods combined with tryptophan = bed time! So when eating honey before bed, make sure to eat foods high in tryptophan, (source).
Try drizzling raw honey over yogurt or cereal, or you can simple stir it into herbal tea!
6. Kiwi Fruit
Kiwi is high in serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in your circadian rhythm, and has been shown to help you fall asleep more quickly (source). It’s also high in antioxidants and potassium and is considered a superfood.
Studies show that 2 kiwis eaten an hour before bed is the optimal amount.
Pistachios contain melatonin (source), the hormone that controls your circadian rhythm, as well as omega-3s, both of which promote a good night’s sleep.
Make sure to eat some pistachios before bed or throughout the day!
Tuna, and other fish such as salmon and halibut, are high in omega-3s, which can help you sleep better (source). Go for sustainably wild caught fish if at all possible.
You can eat tuna for dinner, or have it as a snack before bed. An easy snack idea is to eat canned tuna with crackers, this can help you fall asleep!
9. Whole Grains
Eating carb-filled foods like whole-grain bread, rice, and cereal can make you sleepy by causing a quick blood sugar spike (source). This can be the perfect thing to help you fall asleep…However, if you have issues with waking up in the middle of the night, you may want to steer clear of this solution. Waking up in the middle of the night is often the result of your blood sugar dropping after the initial spike.
Bananas have high levels of potassium and magnesium, which have a relaxing and calming effect on your body. This calming effect will help you to doze off at night.
Try mixing up a smoothie with banana! It gives a sweet flavor to a smoothie, and adds a smooth consistency.
SMOOTHIE HACK: Freeze your bananas before using them for a smoothie. The frozen banana is easier for your blender to chop up, and it mixes better!
As a bonus, green tea is also an amazing food for helping you sleep better. Drink green tea throughout the day instead of coffee, you'll get more of a subtle energy burst, and you won't have any issues falling asleep at night.
This is due to the L-Theanine found in green tea. Theanine help to mitigate the impact of caffeine and gives you a steady, focused energy. If you're interested in theanine, check out the supplement form called Suntheanine. It's a clinically studied version of theanine shown to promote relaxation.
So there you have it.
Eat these 10 foods and start sleeping better!
If they don't help you sleep better, you can always consider an alternative, such as a natural sleep aid to help you fall asleep.