If you find yourself tossing and turning during the night, you might find yourself blaming the usual suspects: An unreliable mattress, stressful sleep environment, too much coffee during the day, stress at work. However, the path to better sleep could be as simple as incorporating the right foods into your diet. If you’re trying to get a better night’s sleep, think about integrating a few healthy staple foods into your pre-bed ritual.
- Go Nuts
You may have already heard about the benefits of eating raw almonds before bed. They’re a natural source of magnesium, a mineral that can aid with sleep. But almonds aren’t the only nut that can encourage sleepiness before bed. Walnuts are a great source of tryptophan, the amino acid that certain high-protein foods like turkey release into our systems after meals to make us feel sleepy. Nuts are also a great source of protein, higher amounts of which can contribute to an all-around better night’s sleep. If walnuts aren’t your thing, pistachios contain magnesium and vitamin B6 If you’re someone who loves to snack, don’t ditch the habit altogether. A scoop of nut butter in yogurt or a handful of raw, high-protein nuts should help you drift off naturally in no time.
- Try a Banana
Like almonds, bananas have the double benefit of being a healthy bedtime snack and possessing a good amount of magnesium to aid with sleep. Bananas are also high in potassium, which can serve as a muscle relaxant and de-stressor before bed. If you’ve always been someone who enjoys a bowl of cereal as a nighttime snack, consider changing your routine to incorporate whole grains, whole milk, and a sliced banana on top. The carbs in the grains, plus the tryptophan found in the milk and the magnesium in the fruit, work together to create the perfect pre-bedtime sleepiness.
- Cherries or Cherry Juice
Many people who struggle with insomnia or have a hard time falling asleep turn to melatonin supplements to help out. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate our circadian rhythm when it gets off-balance. In nature, however, melatonin is scarce, found in only a few fruits and plants worldwide. Cherries provide one of the few natural sources of melatonin, helping to induce a feeling of sleepiness and relaxation after eating. If you can’t find fresh cherries, dried cherries or cherry juice provide the same effect.
- Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes have many overlooked health benefits and are packed with sleep-inducing vitamins and minerals like potassium, magnesium, and calcium. They’re also extremely versatile when it comes to preparation. You can have them mashed, baked, or even substitute them for traditional carbs in recipes that call for a slice of bread. If you enjoy a piece of toast before bed, swapping out a slice of sweet potato with some honey and salt can be a great alternative.
While cherries are a great source of natural melatonin, they’re not quite as accessible as one of the other natural sources you’ve probably been storing in your cabinet without knowing it. That’s right: Oats. They’re endlessly versatile, always in season, and provide a great source of fiber for heart health. Eating oatmeal can start production of insulin in the body, leading to a sleepy feeling. It’s also a filling alternative to less healthy bedtime snacks. However, always use good judgment when purchasing oatmeal. Many instant varieties contain a ton of sugar, which can have an adverse effect on your sleeping habits. For best results, try plain oats with sliced banana and honey for a natural sleepiness.