22 Top Foods to Help You Sleep Better (No Pills or Alcohol Needed!)

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

Most people are aware that their Thanksgiving turkey can make them feel sleepy because it contains a substance called tryptophan. What most people don’t know is that there are many other foods that can also work the same way.

If you have problems falling asleep sometimes it can be a real problem. You know you need to rest but for a wide variety of reasons, sleep just seems to be an elusive beast that can’t be caught.

Few things are more frustrating than wanting to fall asleep, but instead you toss and turn, watching the clock and thinking “If I fall asleep now, at least I can get X number of hours.” The clock keep moving and that X number gets smaller and smaller until about an hour or two before you have to wake up, you magically fall asleep!  It’s so annoying!

You don’t need to fall back on alcohol or pills in order to fall asleep. There are plenty of natural foods you can make for dinner or as a late night snack when you have trouble falling asleep. We have made a list that has 22 of the best food and drink options around. You are sure to like at least a few of the foods on this list.

So get busy reading so you can find out what to make for dinner tonight or what to pick up at the store so that you can finally get a good night’s sleep.

 

1. Almonds

Almonds are a great source of magnesium and calcium. Calcium stimulates the production of melatonin, which is a hormone that regulates your sleep cycle. You might want to consider making yourself some almond butter on a slice of whole grain bread as a late night snack on those nights you can’t sleep. Studies done at the National Institute of Heath note that when you eat high protein foods (such as almonds) in combination with carbs (such as whole grain bread) your body responds much better to the tryptophan than when you eat only protein. So think almond butter on whole grain toast or oatmeal with some almonds on top next time you can’t sleep.

 

2. Tart Cherries

Not sweet cherries, like Bing cherries, but tart cherries, as these boost the body’s supply of melatonin. Look, for example, for some tart cherry juice (with no added sugar) and drink that as a late night snack.

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Photo credit: bigstock.com

Photo credit: bigstock.com

3. Spinach

This probably isn’t what you are thinking of when it comes to a late night snack, but spinach is actually a great source of calcium, which stimulates the production of melatonin. So think spinach salads for lunch and maybe a spinach omelet for dinner.

 

4. Popcorn

Now here is a late night snack you can sink your teeth into! Air popped popcorn contains tryptophan, it is the amino that makes you so sleepy. Try munching on a cup of air popped popcorn and you should get a visit from the sandman sooner rather than later.

 

5. Lemon Balm

This member of the mint family has been singing lullabies to people for ages. Look for lemon balm tea at your local health food store and enjoy a cup about 30 to 45 minutes before bedtime.

 

6. Saffron

Saffron, which is actually a type of crocus flower, adds lots of flavor to food and can help you get your z’s. One research study done with mice showed that the group that eat a water based saffron extract had lower anxiety levels and increased sleep hours compared to the control group.

 

7.  Whole Grain Bread

As we mentioned with almonds, eating some whole grain bread will help you feel sleepy, especially when you consume it within 2 hours of bedtime. Add a bit of almond butter or a banana to your toast for extra sleep inducing chemicals.

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Chopped chocolate

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8. Dark Chocolate

There are plenty of good reasons to eat dark chocolate and here is another one: dark chocolate can relax you and reduce the amount of cortisol (a stress hormone) in the body. The more relaxed you are, the better you will sleep. One ounce a day is all you need.

 

9. Jasmine Rice

Besides smelling heavenly, jasmine rice will work much in the same way that whole grain bread will. Eating a meal with some jasmine rice within 4 hours of bedtime will help you to sleep much better. Be sure you are using jasmine rice as it has more starch than other types of rice and it’s the starch that will send you to dreamland.

 

10. Miso

Miso, which is made from fermented soybeans, contains important amino acids which will boost your production of melatonin, which means you will fall asleep naturally and easily. Try a warm mug of miso soup an hour or so before bedtime.

 

11. Chamomile Tea

This is an old standby that really works when you can’t sleep. Studies have shown that a cup of chamomile tea helps to ease anxiety when taken in small doses and higher doses induce sleep. So make a double strength cup of chamomile tea about an hour before bed and it will be lights out for you in no time!

 

12. Potatoes

The carbs in potatoes make these highly glycemic food help you sleep more soundly. Try some mashed potatoes with dinner, topped with a bit of plain Greek yogurt. No sleeping pill ever tasted this good!

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Banana

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13. Bananas

Packed with both healthy carbs and tryptophan, both of these will stimulate your body to make melatonin, which will promote deep sleep. Bananas are also high in magnesium, which helps the muscles of the body to relax.

 

14. Edamame

Tryptophan to the rescue once again! One cup of soybeans has more than 100 percent of your daily recommended amount of tryptophan and edamame is one of the tastiest ways to get this. Snack on some edamame for some sweet dreams later on.

 

15. Halibut

Most seafood contains some tryptophan, but halibut also contains vitamin B6, which is a natural sleep aid. Rather than ordering that grilled salmon, try the halibut for some good Z time.

 

16. Cereal

This is an old fashioned remedy for a late night snack for insomniacs. Choose a low-sugar fortified cereal as this will increase the tryptophan in the blood stream. Also, many cereals are fortified with vitamin B6, which is a natural sleep aid.

 

17. Milk

There is a reason many people drink a glass of warm milk when they can’t sleep. Milk has tryptophan and calcium, which stimulates the production of melatonin.

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Honey

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18. Honey

Well, here is a sweet way to find sweet dreams! Honey will raise your blood sugar just enough to reduce the production of orexin in the brain. This is the neurotransmitter that is keeping you awake. Don’t use too much, just a teaspoon or two in your tea, or drizzled on top of your oatmeal is all you need.

 

19. Yogurt

Eating some yogurt before bed will do much the same things that milk will, but with a boost of protein as well, which makes this a super satisfying snack before you hit the sack. Choose a sugar free variety to avoid spikes in your blood sugar.

 

20. Chickpeas

Chickpeas have protein as well as vitamin B6 to help ease you into dreamland. Try some low fat hummus as a late night snack or keep some chickpea salad in the fridge for those times when you can’t sleep.

 

SEE ALSO: 12 Ways to Beat Sleep Apnea Without Machines (#8 is Fun!)

 

21. Oatmeal

High in both magnesium and calcium, this is one of the best choices for insomniacs. Mix some honey and bananas or milk and honey or almonds and milk for the best dream land combination you’ve ever eaten.

 

22. Green Tea

Drinking green tea throughout the day can help you feel more relaxed overall so that you can fall asleep later on. However, if you plan on drinking this tea before bed, you should brew up a decaf version.

Eating more of these foods, and using some of them as your late night snack of choice, can go a long way towards improving sleep quality and the amount of time you stay in the sack.

Sweet dreams!

References:

Onlinelibrary.wiley.com

Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Caltech.edu