There’s nothing worse than not being able to sleep, especially if you have a big day coming up. So, make sure you’re doing what you can to get the best sleep possible. Sure, you know that warm milk and honey will help you sleep like a baby, but some of the foods on this list will really surprise you.
Cherries, especially tart cherries (Montmorency cherries), are a natural source of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Consuming foods that contain melatonin can help signal to your body that it’s time to wind down and prepare for sleep so are great to eat before bedtime.
Bananas contain an amino acid called tryptophan, which is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and sleep. Tryptophan can be converted to serotonin in the brain, and then to melatonin, which is a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Consuming foods high in tryptophan, like bananas, can potentially promote relaxation and better sleep.
Almonds are a significant source of magnesium, a mineral that plays a crucial role in promoting sleep. Magnesium helps relax muscles and nerves, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. A deficiency in magnesium can lead to sleep disturbances and insomnia, so consuming magnesium-rich foods like almonds may help improve sleep quality.
Okay, a turkey sandwich before bed may not seem like the ideal midnight snack, but there’s a method to the madness. Turkey contains that amino acid tryptophan that we were talking about earlier, so it helps you fall asleep. Maybe that’s why you feel so sleep after Thanksgiving dinner…
This may be a meal that you associate with early mornings, however, oatmeal will help you sleep too. Oatmeal is a good source of complex carbohydrates, which provide a slow and steady release of energy. This can help maintain your blood sugar levels throughout the night, preventing sudden drops that might wake you up.
Like cherries, kiwi is also one of the few fruits that naturally contain melatonin. The compound is known to support sleep disorders and promote a deeper, more restful sleep for those struggling. Though commonly associated with your breakfast fruit bowl, consider snacking on the melatonin rich kiwi before bed for an easily accessible boost.
Honey is known for its soothing qualities on sore throats, but many don’t know that it can actually help you sleep too. The natural sugars it contains can trigger a small release of insulin in your body, stimulating the release of tryptophan into the brain. This creates a calming effect, leading to feelings of relaxation and drowsiness, making it easier to fall asleep.
8. Warm milk
This one is a given. Warm milk has been helping toddlers and adults fall asleep for decades, mainly because it feels like a warm hug in drink form. Scientifically though, it also contains tryptophan that will help you doze off in no time. Try adding in some of that honey we mentioned before for extra coziness!
9. Valerian tea
Valerian tea is often consumed in the evening, especially before bedtime, to promote relaxation and sleep. It is believed to have sedative properties that can help with insomnia and mild anxiety. The primary ingredient in valerian tea is the dried valerian root and rhizome, both known to naturally induce slumber.
You might think that a lox bagel is something that you’d prefer to have for brunch, but it turns out that it could actually help you sleep too. Salmon is packed full of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are known for their anti-inflammatory properties and have been linked to various health benefits, including potential improvements in sleep quality.
11. Wholegrain bread
Another breakfast food that might help you get to sleep. Wholemeal bread contains slow-release carbohydrates that will stop you waking up in the middle of the night feeling those dreaded hunger pangs. A piece of toast before bed is hard to beat, just don’t make a grilled cheese if you’re trying to avoid nightmares!
12. Cottage cheese
With that being said, cottage cheese is one of the good guys. Cottage cheese is a good source of high-quality protein, which can promote feelings of fullness and satiety. Consuming protein before bed can help prevent nighttime awakenings due to hunger, allowing for a more restful night’s sleep overall.
13. Chamomile tea
Chamomile tea is one of the most popular things to have when you can’t sleep. But, scientifically, it checks out too! Chamomile contains compounds that have mild sedative and anxiety-reducing properties. These compounds can bind to certain receptors in the brain and nervous system, producing a calming effect that may promote relaxation and sleepiness.
14. Sweet potatoes
The key is in the ‘sweet’ part. Sweet potatoes contain naturally releasing sugars that will keep your blood-sugar levels maintained throughout the night. Falls or spikes in blood-sugar can contribute to restless slumber. So yes, it’s okay to order Postmates at 1am… but only if you justify it by getting sweet potato fries with your burger.
15. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate and a cup of (valerian) tea is where it’s at. You get that sweet treat release, without having a complete sugar-rush before bed. Dark chocolate is a source of magnesium, which is a mineral that plays a key role in regulating sleep. Adequate magnesium levels may help with muscle relaxation, as well as reducing stress and anxiety, all of which can contribute to better sleep.
A little spray of lavender on your pillow will definitely help you drift off, but what about actually consuming the sweet smelling flower? Drinking a cup of lavender tea before bed, or anything infused with lavender oil, will no doubt have the same relaxing effect. Studies have shown that the use of lavender may actually be associated with improved sleep quality and duration too.
This is just another reason why you should brush your teeth before bed! Any type of herbal tea, including peppermint, will have a super relaxing effect and help you get to sleep at night. Also, the aromatherapy element of a nice warm cup of mint tea is perfect to make you feel like you’ve had a full spa treatment, from the comfort of your bed.
Grab a handful of nuts before you go to bed. Walnuts are another food that increase melatonin production in the body, with obvious benefits in helping you drift off to sleep. On top of this, they also contain omega-3 fatty acids and a whole lot of protein. All in all, they’re excellent for you whether you’re struggling to sleep or not.
Popeye taught us that spinach is good for helping gain muscle, but did you know that it can help you sleep too? Spinach is a source of iron, an essential mineral that is involved in various bodily functions, including the regulation of sleep. Iron deficiency can lead to restless leg syndrome, a condition known to negatively impact sleep, so increasing your intake is vital to combat this.
A bit of avocado toast is the perfect way to start your day, especially if it comes with a nice coffee on the side. But, did you know that this trendy food can help you get to sleep too? Avocado provides vitamin B6, which is involved in the production of serotonin and melatonin, important regulators of sleep.
21. Brown rice
Brown rice contains a naturally occurring gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) called “serenin.” GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that can have a calming effect on the nervous system and may promote relaxation and sleep. It may sound odd, but the science says it works!
22. Protein smoothie
Protein smoothies are a great way to start the day, especially if you’re always on the go. Many don’t know that protein can actually benefit you while you’re sleeping too. Not only will it stop you waking up in the middle of the night with hunger pangs, but it’s essential for the re-growth and repair of muscles that takes place during sleep.
23. Nut butter
Peanut, almond, cashew – whatever way you spread it, it will actually help you sleep. Nut butter contains healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which can help stabilize blood sugar levels. Stable blood sugar levels are essential for uninterrupted sleep, as fluctuations can often lead to nighttime awakenings.
Some yogurts contain probiotics, which are beneficial microorganisms that support gut health. There is growing evidence supporting the theory that the gut-brain connection, also known as the gut-brain axis, can impact sleep and mood. A healthy gut microbiome may be associated with better sleep quality overall.
Although tea does contain some caffeine, the coziness of a warm beverage at night will definitely help you get over to sleep if you’re struggling. If you are worried about the caffeine buzz keeping you awake at night, opt for a decaffeinated option to be extra sure. Try a herbal blend if you want some extra relaxation.
Figs are full of magnesium, potassium and calcium; all minerals that help with blood flow and muscle contraction, which are key for falling asleep. On top of this, the sweet kick will curb that dessert craving, and figs also contain a good bit of protein that will help you feel fuller for longer.
Kale is the magic vegetable that seems to be good for absolutely everything. Well, here it is to fix your sleep woes too. Kale is full of folate, a B-vitamin that is often found in green veggies. Folate plays a role in neurotransmitter synthesis, including serotonin, which is associated with relaxation. A diet rich in folate can support serotonin production, potentially promoting better sleep.
A little bit of chip and dip before bed? Sounds almost too good to be true, right? Maybe skip out on garlicky hummus if you’re getting into bed with a partner, though. It may sound odd, but hummus has naturally occurring melatonin, which, as we know by now, is one of the leading compounds that aids sleep. Get the carrot sticks out!
Ever wanted to go to sleep in the movie theater? Well, it’s probably all that popcorn, due to its status as a whole grain packed full with fiber and carbs. A study found that food such as popcorn and nuts provide a longer sleep duration than food such as burgers and pizza. Another sweet treat that you can have a bedtime!
Pistachios are rich in antioxidants, particularly carotenoids and vitamin E, making them an excellent addition to your night time diet if you’re struggling to sleep. These antioxidants can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the body, which can, in turn, impact sleep quality. Unfortunately though, it probably doesn’t count in ice-cream form…
This classic malt drink may seem like something only drank in retirement homes, however, it’s just like if a warm glass of milk got an upgrade! Although it mainly aids sleep through it’s comforting flavor, it actually dies contain magnesium, which is scientifically proven to promote muscle relaxation.
32. Hot chocolate
There’s nothing scientific in this one, a hot cup of cocoa is just a nice thing to have before bed! Okay, yes, it has sugar and chocolate and all the things you shouldn’t have before you sleep, but try drinking a warm cup of this stuff whilst you’re all tucked up in bed on a winter night and try not to fall asleep…
Horchata is a traditional beverage that is popular in various Latin American and Spanish-speaking countries. It’s known for its refreshing and sweet flavor. The primary ingredients in horchata is rice that has been sweetened with sugar and flavored with cinnamon. This cozy stuff will get you over to the land of nod in no time.
Ginger has anti-nausea and antiemetic (vomiting-preventing) properties. It is often used to alleviate symptoms of illness more broadly, whether caused by motion sickness, morning sickness during pregnancy, or general upset stomach. Eat some of this stuff if you’re feeling unwell before bed and you’ll be settled and ready to rest in no time.
This one sounds pretty obvious, we all know you should be drinking water all the time. It’s particularly important, though, first thing in the morning as you wake up and just before you go to bed. Water is like your body’s gasoline, and ensures it’s running as it should. Just don’t overdo it or bathroom breaks might prevent a restful slumber…
Blueberries are often thought of as a superfood, and that’s why they’ll also help you drift off to sleep. Whilst you sleep, your brain works overtime to essentially ‘reset’ your body for the next day, so make sure it’s running as best as it can! Some studies suggest that regular consumption of blueberries may be associated with improved cognitive function and memory.
Still on the brain stuff! Whilst not necessarily one to make you drowsy, sleep equals smart – right?! Eggs are a rich source of choline, an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in brain development, memory, and cognitive function. Choline is a precursor to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that is important for memory and learning. Eat those eggs and get some sleep!
Another odd one but if cats can do it, why can’t you? Tuna is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are essential for brain health and are important components of brain cell membranes, and, as we know, these fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties to make sure you get a good night’s sleep.
39. Basil seed drink
Basil seed drinks are an excellent source of hydration, making them a refreshing choice, especially in hot weather. Staying adequately hydrated is essential for overall health and will make sure you don’t wake up in the middle of the night with a dry mouth because, as we all know, there is literally nothing worse than that.
40. Jerusalem artichokes
Jerusalem artichokes are one of the richest sources of inulin in food. Inulin is a type of prebiotic fiber that serves as a food source for beneficial gut bacteria. Your gut works hard while you’re asleep to digest all the day’s food and absorb all of the nutrients that it can to keep you healthy. So, increase the artichoke and increase that gut health!