When it comes to sleep, we’re willing to try pretty much anything. From breathing exercises to hormonal sleep aids like melatonin and even white noise machines. Did you know, however, that getting to sleep might be as easy as changing your diet?
It makes sense that certain foods can help us sleep. After all, certain foods boost our energy, enhance our focus, and fill us up with healthy fats, so why shouldn’t they also lull us off to dreamland? If you’re having trouble sleeping, consider filling your plate with the following fifteen foods.
15 Foods That Help Us Sleep
Almonds are a wonder food – rich in minerals like magnesium, which is critical for helping us get to sleep and stay asleep longer. In fact, one study published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine found that magnesium levels are directly linked to poor sleep quality and a less restful night. With this in mind, consider eating a fistful of almonds as a post-dinner snack to help you drift off to sleep.
Walnuts are famous for their high tryptophan content – an amino acid that’s widely known to promote feelings of sleepiness. It’s the same thing that makes you feel drowsy after eating a big turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. What’s more, walnuts stimulate the production of melatonin, which is a powerful natural sleep aid produced by the human body.
At some point or another, most of us have drunk a glass of warm milk to get to sleep, but the fact is that any number of dairy products will do the trick. Because dairy products are high in calcium, and because the brain needs calcium to produce melatonin, dairy products are ideal for helping us get to sleep peacefully and stay asleep longer. As a bonus, calcium helps to regulate the movements of the muscles, which can decrease jerky, startling sleep movements and help you sleep soundly.
Leafy greens are good for all sorts of things, but they’re also a powerful sleep aid. Lettuce, in particular, contains high levels of lactucarium. Commonly called “lettuce opium,” this powerful substance is a sedative that helps promote feelings of relaxation and sleepiness. With this in mind, focus on including salads in your dinnertime routine if you’re having trouble sleeping. The sedative properties of lettuce, combined with a good bedtime routine, may just work wonders for your sleep patterns.
While corn chips are a bit less healthful than the other foods on this list, they have a powerful place in the world of sleep-inducing foods. This is because corn chips have a very high glycemic index, which essentially means that the human body burns through them quickly. This causes a sudden spike in blood sugar, which then results in a dip in energy. While eating high-glycemic index foods is not recommended for stable mood and energy levels, it can be a helpful way to nudge yourself over the edge and into sleep.
Salmon is a rich source of vitamin B6, which is essential for healthy sleep. While vitamin B6 plays several roles in the human body, one of its most critical is to regulate sleep and help metabolize tryptophan. If you’re not a salmon fan, you can get the same vitamin B6 boost from tuna, halibut, garlic, and even pistachios.
According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2007, people who ate a meal that included a healthy portion of jasmine rice fell asleep faster than individuals who ate any other type of rice. Because jasmine rice has a high glycemic index, it works much the same way corn chips to do re-wire your body’s priorities and help you drift off to sleep more quickly.
Cereal is a surprising power food when it comes to getting to sleep. Because it combines protein in the form of milk and high-glycemic carbohydrates from the cereal itself, it appeals to two of the main things your body needs to drift off easily.
Tart Cherry Juice
If you’re struggling to get to sleep, forget the nightcap and reach for some tart cherry juice instead. According to a study conducted by Universities of Pennsylvania and Rochester scientists and published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, a glass of tart cherry juice has sleep-producing benefits that can help battle the symptoms of insomnia and restless sleep. Just make sure the brand of cherry juice you buy is unsweetened since a large dose of sugar could throw off the benefits of the cherry juice itself.
Chamomile, passion fruit, and mint teas can all be helpful to relax the body and help you get off to sleep. This is because these teas contain high levels of glycine, a sedative chemical that relaxes the body and helps you get off to sleep easier.
Honey is a rich source of natural sugar and, if you’re looking for help sleeping, it may be just the thing. Unlike processed, white sugar, honey raises the body’s insulin levels while also allowing tryptophan to work its magic on the body. For best results, mix a tablespoon of honey into a cup of mint or chamomile tea and sip in the thirty minutes leading up to bedtime.
While romaine lettuce is a powerful sleep aid, so is its healthful companion, kale. Kale and other dark green vegetables are packed to the gills with calcium. Also found in dairy products, calcium makes it easier for the body to make and use melatonin and can help promote a restful night of sleep. To get the most out of your green leafy vegetables, whip up a salad that includes a mixture of spinach and mustard greens, as well.
While it may not be the most cost-effective pre-bedtime food, lobster is a fantastic source of tryptophan, which can help lull you into a restful sleep. If lobster isn’t in your taste or budget, reach for shrimp or other crustaceans instead.
A staple of middle eastern foods, chickpeas are rich in tryptophan and can help facilitate a healthy night of sleep. For best results, enjoy a few tablespoons of homemade hummus with hearty, whole-grain crackers about an hour before trying to fall asleep.
Elk meat is rich in tryptophan and, while it may be difficult to come by, is one of the most effective foods for falling asleep fast and staying asleep all night. For best results, pair it with a carbohydrate dish (like a pesto pasta) to ensure that the tryptophan moves through the brain as easily as possible.
Falling Asleep is Now Easier Than Ever
While falling asleep can feel stressful, these fifteen foods can take the edge off. By supplying the body with the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids needed to promote healthy sleep, these delicious and nutritious treats have carved out a critical place for themselves in the diets of people struggling to sleep better and enjoy more restful nights.