The 15 Best Foods To Eat Before Bed For Better Sleep

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We’ve all been there: staring at the ceiling, counting imaginary sheep that seem to be doing jumping jacks on a trampoline. Tossing and turning, night after night, yearning for the sweet embrace of sleep. Sure, there are fancy sleep trackers and white noise machines, but what if the key to dreamland lies not in gadgets, but in your pantry?

Believe it or not, certain foods can act as natural sleep aids, lulling you gently into a restful slumber. Forget sugary treats or heavy meals that leave you feeling sluggish. We’re talking about sleep-promoting powerhouses packed with nutrients that work wonders on your brain and body.

Intrigued? Ditch the sheep and get ready to discover a delicious new approach to bedtime. This post will unveil the best foods to eat before bed, turning your kitchen into a sleep sanctuary. So, grab a snack, curl up with this post, and get ready to unlock the secrets to a good night’s sleep – one delicious bite at a time!

Most experts recommend avoiding eating heavy meals near bedtime. But do late-night snacks have any impact on your sleep quality? According to scientists, it all depends on the kinds of food you take before bed.

Here, we list down 16 foods that can actually help you sleep better, along with six types of foods you definitely want to steer clear of if you want to get quality sleep.

How Nutrition Affects Sleep

Most people know that the amount of sleep they get can affect their overall health. A good night’s rest can result in higher energy levels, better mood, less stress, and even more stable blood sugar levels. But did you know that what we do in the day – including how much sun we get, how much time we spend exercising, and what kinds of foods we eat – can also affect our quality of sleep?

If you want to set up your brain for the right conditions for restful sleep, you need to eat healthily and provide your body with the proper nutrients.

“The nutrients we get from food serve as the building blocks for other minerals and proteins needed to create amino acids involved in sleep”, says sleep expert Dr. Ana Krieger.

So if you want to learn how to sleep better, you need to be conscious of what goes into your body throughout the day, and most especially before you hit the hay. But what should you be eating in order to get quality, restorative sleep?

15 Best Foods To Help You Sleep Better

Here is a list of some of the best foods to have throughout the day and/or as bedtime snacks:

1. Bananas

Aside from containing potassium and magnesium, which allow your muscles to relax, bananas are also rich in the amino acid tryptophan. This compound signals your body to produce serotonin, helping you to feel more relaxed and ready for bed.

2. Figs

Figs are another potassium and magnesium-rich food. These minerals, along with calcium and iron, encourage blood flow and keep your muscles from contracting – making it easier for you to fall asleep.

3. Cherries

A recent study found that drinking tart cherry juice can raise one’s melatonin levels and lead to better sleep efficiency and improved sleep quality overall.

Melatonin is a hormone that we produce in our bodies and it’s linked to our sleep cycle. Evidence has shown that taking melatonin supplements can help improve circadian rhythms and combat insomnia.

4. Walnuts

If you’re a late-night snacker, ditch the chips and grab a handful of walnuts instead. This nut is more than just a great source of melatonin, it’s also rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

5. Yogurt

Yogurt is another healthy source of tryptophan. When having yogurt as a late-night snack, ditch the sugary, flavored ones and opt for a cup of plain yogurt instead. Better yet, go for Greek yogurt, which is higher in protein and lower in fat and carbs.

6. Pistachios

Pistachios are rich in melatonin, vitamin B6, and magnesium – all of which are essential foods for better, deeper sleep.

7. Kale

A cup of chopped kale will get you 10% RDI of vitamin B6, making it one of the best foods for sleep. Vitamin B6 helps our bodies produce more serotonin and melatonin!

8. Kiwi

A study found that participants who ate kiwifruit an hour before bedtime fell asleep 42% more quickly than those who ate nothing. This is believed to be possible due to the fruit’s high serotonin content. Kiwi also contains folate, which is said to prevent sleep disorders like insomnia.

9. Spinach

Here’s another food that insomniacs should load up on. Spinach is rich in tryptophan, folate, magnesium, and vitamin B.

10. Cottage Cheese

Tired of yogurt? Change things up with a cup of tryptophan and casein-rich cottage cheese. Casein protein is a slow-releasing milk protein that staves off hunger. A cup of cottage cheese can help you to stick to your diet while still getting uninterrupted sleep at night.

11. Popcorn

It’s time to stop feeling guilty about winding down with Netflix and a tub of popcorn. This complex carb can help you feel sleepy faster. Just keep it plain (no butter or sauces) and try not to finish a whole bowl yourself so that it remains a healthy snack.

12. Nut Butter And Toast

Nuts are high in tryptophan, while toast is full of sleep-inducing carbs. Together, they are a perfect sleepy-time snack.

13. Almonds

Almonds are another type of food that is high in melatonin, the hormone that signals your body when to prepare for sleep.

14. Hummus

Hummus is made with chickpeas, a natural source of all those sleep-inducing vitamins and minerals, including tryptophan and vitamin B6.

15. Oatmeal

There’s just something calming about a warm bowl of oatmeal. Perhaps it’s the high levels of tryptophan and B vitamins!

3 Drinks That Can Help You Sleep

Not much of a snacker? Here are three drinks that can relax you:

1. Herbal Tea

Chamomile tea, in particular, has a mellowing effect. It’s been used for centuries to calm nerves and an upset stomach.

2. Milk

Surely, you’ve heard of people having a glass of warm milk before bed. This works because milk contains both tryptophan and calcium, which we know by now are excellent at promoting deep sleep.

3. Goji Berry Juice

A 2016 study found that rats who consumed goji berries had reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety. In humans, goji berry juice can boost one’s mood, aid in relaxation, and improve sleep time.

6 Foods To Avoid Before Bedtime

If you don’t want to be up all night figuring out how to stay asleep, make sure to avoid stimulating foods like the following:

1. Citrus Fruits

Acidic foods like oranges and grapefruits can trigger heartburn and acid reflux, which can keep you up all night.

2. Spicy Food

Spicy foods are among the worst foods to consume late at night, as they can irritate your stomach and cause indigestion and heartburn.

3. Alcohol

Yes, alcohol does have a relaxing effect, but this isn’t necessarily a good thing around bedtime. When your throat muscles and tissues are too relaxed, you can end up snoring louder or even suffering from sleep apnea.

4. Fried Food

Fried foods aren’t just likely to give you heartburn, they can also affect your blood sugar levels and slow down digestion. Uncontrolled glucose levels can lead to sleeping difficulties.

5. Chocolate

This is a tough one for those with a sweet tooth. Chocolate tends to have a lot of sugar and caffeine, two things we know are terrible for sleep.

6. Caffeine

Energy drinks, coffee, and as mentioned, chocolate – all these things can keep us up way past our bedtimes and cause disturbances in our sleep.

Don’t Sleep On Nutrition

What you eat doesn’t just affect how you feel throughout the day, it can also keep you from tossing and turning late at night. Choose foods that are high in those sleep-inducing vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, and you’re all set for some sweet dreams.

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About the Author: Sasha Bayat, RD, LDN

Registered dietitian Sasha Bayat, RD, LDN.Sasha’s advice for easy, nutritious meals is to keep staple items that are shelf stable in your pantry and to practice having half a plate of vegetables, a quarter of protein, and a quarter of complex carbohydrates. She advises not to shy away from bagged, canned, or frozen foods, as they can still offer just as many nutrients!

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