The 12 best sleep-enhancing foods and drinks

If you want to sleep better, your diet is a good place to start. The food you eat can have a profound effect on how you feel, and certain foods are renowned for enhancing sleep. Avoiding foods that contain a lot of sugar and caffeine can definitely help you sleep better, but you should also find that eating any of the following 12 foods will lead to a better night’s sleep.

1. Almonds

Almonds are tasty tree nuts that contain a wide range of nutrients and offer many health benefits. In addition to being high in phosphorous, manganese, and riboflavin, almonds also contain useful amounts of protein and healthy fats.

Almonds also contain magnesium and melatonin. Magnesium is a mineral known for its ability to cause muscle relaxation, while melatonin is a hormone produced naturally in your body that is responsible for sleep regulation.

Try eating an ounce of almonds or a tablespoon almond butter before bed to see if you sleep more soundly.

2. Turkey

High in protein but low in fat, turkey is a popular and healthy meat. It can help you sleep because it contains the amino acid tryptophan, a precursor for the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. The protein in turkey may also contribute to sleepiness. It’s no wonder that most of us want a nap after a big turkey dinner!

3. Chamomile tea

Chamomile tea is a popular caffeine-free herbal drink that is commonly associated with calmness and relaxation. It’s high in antioxidants, so it’s as healthy as it is relaxing. Chamomile tea contains apigenin, an antioxidant that helps promote sleepiness and fight insomnia. Chamomile tea is widely available and safe to use. Why not try a cup tonight and see if it works for you?

4. Kiwi fruit

By weight, kiwis contain more vitamin C than oranges, and their high antioxidant content means they are very healthy. Kiwis are also high in fiber, low in sugar, and easy and refreshing to eat. They may also be one of the best foods for enhancing sleep.

Kiwis are high in serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate your sleep cycle. Eat 1-2 before heading off to bed to fall asleep sooner and sleep longer.

5. Tart cherries

Tart cherries are high in antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin C, and manganese. They also contain impressive amounts of melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating your internal sleep clock.

While you can eat tart cherries, you’ll get a more concentrated dose of their sleep-inducing compounds if you drink the juice. Tart cherry juice is widely available in supermarkets and could be just what you need to help you sleep more soundly.

6. Oily fish

As their name suggests, varieties of oily fish are high in fats. They also contain an abundance of vitamin D. Examples of oily fish include salmon, tuna, mackerel, and trout, all of which are as healthy as they are tasty.

Consuming healthy fats, protein, and vitamin D at the same time is thought to increase levels of serotonin, the sleep-enhancing chemical. Increased serotonin levels usually lead to faster, deeper sleep.

7. Walnuts

Like oily fish, walnuts are a good source of healthy fats and vitamin D. They also contain a particular type of fat called ALA, which, on digestion, is converted into DHA in your body. DHA increases the production of the sleep-enhancing hormone melatonin.

8. Passionflower tea

Like chamomile, passionflower tea is another naturally caffeine-free herbal infusion that may help you sleep. It contains apigenin, an antioxidant with a strong calming effect. Passionfruit tea may also increase the production of GABA, another chemical that promotes sleep by inhibiting stress and improving mental and physical relaxation.

9. White rice

White rice is one of the most widely consumed grains in the world. It’s a staple in many countries and cuisines. White rice has been refined, which means its outer husk has been removed, making it lower in fiber and nutrients. However, white rice still contains beneficial vitamins and minerals and is a good source of carbohydrate.

It’s these carbs that mean rice may help you sleep better. Rice has a high glycemic index, meaning it is very quickly digested and broken down into glucose. Eating high glycemic index carbs before going to bed can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep for longer. Consume a serving an hour or two before bedtime for best results.

10. Milk

If you have no issues with lactose, a type of sugar found in milk, a glass of the white stuff may help you sleep better. Milk is a good source of tryptophan, which is quickly converted into sleep-inducing melatonin. A glass of warm milk is a popular sleep remedy for a reason; it works!

Not a milk fan? No problem. Try a cup of natural yogurt or cottage cheese instead. Both contain similar amounts of tryptophan.

11. Bananas

Bananas are high in two sleep-enhancing substances; magnesium and tryptophan. A ripe banana is also high in fast-acting carbs, another primer for a good night’s sleep. Bananas also contain potassium, which can help ward off nighttime cramps. All of these qualities mean that bananas can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

12. Oatmeal

Usually thought of as a breakfast food, oatmeal may also help you fall asleep more easily. Oats are a good source of melatonin, and their high carb content can induce drowsiness. Make your oatmeal with milk and sweeten with chopped banana for a hard-to-beat sleep-inducing snack. 

Summary

Getting enough sleep is vital for your health, but it’s not always easy. Stress, noise, and lack of practice can all make quality sleep hard to come by. The good news is that there are several foods you can eat that may help you sleep. Most contain or promote the production of sleep-inducing hormones such as serotonin and melatonin.

To get the most from these foods, consume them 2-3 hours before bedtime. This gives them time to work their magic and clear your digestive system. Eating too close to bedtime could cause gastrointestinal upset and acid reflux.

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