Foods that help you sleep are a win-win scenario. Most of these sleep-inducing, melatonin rich foods are also dense in nutrients and generally good for our bodies. And they help you fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.
Most of us love nothing more than climbing into bed after a long day, a short day, or even just a day, maybe a night, or a morning…we pretty much just love being in bed.
That said, it’s not always so easy to just drop off to sleep straight away, and there’s nothing more draining than a restless night of crappy snoozing.
But don’t lose sleep over it – we’ve got you covered with the best rest-inducing foods that help you sleep.
12 Delish Foods That Help You Sleep
If you’re looking for the best foods that help you sleep, here is a list of delicious foods to load up on for dinner and your before-bed snack.
Nuts are usually recognized for their protein and fat content, but many types can lend a huge, sleepy hand when it comes to getting some shuteye. Of particular note are walnuts, almonds and pistachio nuts.
Walnuts are packed with tryptophan, a well-known amino acid that can help encourage and actually improve the quality of sleep.
On the other hand, we have almonds which are rich in magnesium – another important ingredient in the recipe for an uninterrupted night’s dreaming.
Pistachio nuts, however, are near to bursting with Vitamin B6 which is a vital component in the production of melatonin (another hormone which helps to send you off to sleep).
Many, if not most, types of fish boast high levels of the aforementioned Vitamin B6. However, salmon, tuna and swordfish are particularly high in the vitamin – the next step is finding some nice recipes combining fish and pistachios! Mmm.
Most dairy products are high in calcium, which can aide the production of tryptophan (starting to recognize a pattern here?), and are a go-to sleepy food type.
By far the most relaxing and recommended method is a warm mug of milk before bed, but many different types of cheese and yoghurt can be just as beneficial when trying to induce a nice slumber.
Although it’s more often associated with the other side of sleep – morning breakfast – oatmeal can double up and also perform well at night.
Oats themselves are high in melatonin; which is always a good sign, but the actual function of the oatmeal grains means that, via insulin production, they can raise your blood sugar levels – which can often have the symptom of sleepiness.
This actually leads on to…
Grains in general
Many kinds of whole grain (barley, corn, rice) are thick with magnesium. A magnesium deficiency can lead to frequent restlessness and make it very hard to slip off to sleep.
One type of rice that has been known to trigger soporific symptoms is jasmine rice, perhaps due to its high degree of carbohydrates (especially if combined with other carbs in an evening meal).
Ever felt absolutely shattered after eating far too much sugar? Get used to that feeling – the holidays are coming.
Part of the reason for this crash in energy is thought to be due to the glucose contained in things like honey, which can drastically reduce the production of orexin – a ‘neurotransmitter’ that helps with the body’s natural wakefulness.
A selection of pulses, aka grain legumes, are very rich in vitamin B6 and high in natural fibre – chickpeas are the main contender here, whilst also doubling up as a great alternative foodstuffs for vegetarians. This also applies to variations of chickpeas and pulses such as hummus or as part of a vitamin rich salad.
Sorry to keep reminding you of delicious meals of yore; but this might go some way to explaining that post-Thanksgiving meal drowsiness.
Turkey is another excellent producer of tryptophan… As if you needed another excuse for late night leftover snacks!
As well as being a decent source of dairy (providing you eat your cereal with milk and not as a dry snack, like some sort of heathen), most breakfast cereals are rich in carbohydrates and fibre.
Providing it isn’t saturated in E numbers and sugar, cereal can be a fantastic pre-bed sedative.
Cherries always come up when we talk about bedtime treats. Many studies have pointed to cherries and their juice – ‘tart cherries’ in particular – as being great sources of melatonin. Plus the juice can make for a pretty delicious drink in and of itself. What’s to lose?
It’s no secret that sleep aid tea can be very effective for inducing drowsiness. Three different types of tea in particular have been known to knock us out.
Green tea is a great source of particular flavonoids (EGCG) which have all kinds of benefits on the body (including spurring your metabolism on through the night).
Then we have chamomile tea which is thought to contain heaps of glycine, an ingredient known for its relaxing effects over muscles and nerves, perfect for drifting off on a dark night.
Last but not least is passionfruit tea, which contains ‘Harman alkaloids’ and can also have a relieving effect on your nervous system, and promote a general sense of tiredness.
Everyone’s favourite ‘superfood’ of a few years ago is back again, now with some night time benefits to go with its Madonna-fronted health promises.
Kale and other green vegetables (think lettuce) are packed with calcium, which as we know by this point, is a fantastic aide for tryptophan secretion.
Kale also comes with the added benefit of being the perfect snack type food that won’t pile on the weight.
There you have it. Twelve delicious foods that help you sleep. Eat some. Nighty night.