Maybe there are a lucky few folks who have no trouble falling asleep. But for countless other people, it’s nearly impossible to fall asleep on-demand, no matter how tired you are.
When you get less sleep than you need (i.e. less than the recommended 7 to 9 hours), research shows it can negatively affect your performance at work, your mood, and even your food choices. Ever noticed that you reach for the donuts and fried chicken on days when you’re exhausted? Yeah, that’s not just in your head.
Here’s the good news: Fortunately, there are certain foods to help you fall asleep fast. A variety of foods have been proven to be able to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Keep reading to see what you should add to your grocery list so you can catch more zzz’s.
1. Cereal and Skim Milk
Turns out the classic bedtime snack has some benefits. Studies show that eating foods high in carbs before bed can halve the time it takes you to fall asleep. (Yep, this means you want to avoid those starchy snacks mid-day, when you’d rather be alert!)
If you’re craving something warm, try a bowl of oatmeal. The high-glycemic index food has similar sleep-inducing effects.
This fruit contains potassium and magnesium, nutrients that can help your muscles relax. They also have tryptophan, which is an amino acid that promotes feelings of calm and relaxation.
These crunchy nuts contain muscle-relaxing magnesium, along with other nutrients that help promote sleep and relaxation.
5. Cherries or Cherry Juice
Research showed that people who drank a mere one ounce of cherry juice slept longer and more soundly than those who didn’t. This fruit is also a natural sleep aid due to its high melatonin content.
6. Chicken or Turkey
Make poultry the main dish of your dinner to reap its sleep-inducing effects, which are attributed to the nutrients tryptophan, magnesium, and vitamins B3 and B6 found in lean meats.
7. Greek Yogurt
With calcium and tryptophan, this snack is ideal to eat before bed. Combine it with almonds and bananas for the ultimate nighttime snack.
8. Whole-Grain Toast with Peanut Butter
Whole-grain breads contain B vitamins (which help your body absorb tryptophan) and magnesium. The peanut butter packs in some protein so your growling stomach won’t wake you up.
9. Cottage Cheese
This dairy snack is filled with casein protein, which is a slow-releasing milk protein that helps keep hunger at bay.
10. Sweet Potatoes
Have leftover spuds in the fridge? Heat them up with a little honey and nut butter for a late-night snack that helps you relax, thanks to the high amounts of potassium, magnesium, and calcium they contain.
These dried fruits contain vitamin B6, calcium, and magnesium, which combine to create melatonin, the hormone that regulates sleep.
12. String Cheese and Crackers
The combo of protein, calcium, and carbs is a surefire way to bring on some shuteye.
13. Hummus and Crackers
If you’re not a big fan of dairy, combine the chickpea dip with crackers for a similar sleep-inducing benefit. Hummus also contains the amino acid tryptophan.
There’s simply something calming about winding down with a cup of hot tea at bedtime (just make sure it’s decaf!). Plus, certain types of tea have sedative effects thanks to specific compounds they contain, called flavones. Try the following types of tea to reap their sleep-inducing benefits:
- Passionflower Tea
- Lemon Balm Tea
- Valerian Tea
- Chamomile Tea
Now, wondering what foods you should avoid eating at night? These 10 foods could be the culprit for your sleepless nights.
1. Energy Drinks
2. Caffeinated Coffee and Tea
3. Tomato-Based Sauces
5. Spicy Foods
6. Processed Meats
7. Orange Juice
8. Hamburgers and Fries