It’s no surprise that certain foods and drinks like junk food, too much sugar and coffee can make your insomnia even worse. But did you know that there are foods out there that will help you sleep better at night? Many foods naturally contain sleep-regulating substances like melatonin or tryptophan, that can help you improve your sleep quality and duration. Here are 20 sleep-inducing foods to put on your grocery list for less tossing and turning:
Almonds are known as one of the best foods to induce sleep, as they are an excellent source of magnesium. A one-ounce serving contains 75 mg of magnesium and provides 19% of your daily needs. Studies have shown that even a small deficiency in magnesium can lead to restless sleep or insomnia. Not only can magnesium help you get to sleep, but it also can help you achieve deep and restful sleep, allowing you to sleep better and wake feeling more refreshed.
White rice has a high glycemic index (GI), and according to several studies eating it will significantly decrease the time it takes you to fall asleep. Most researchers think that this is due to a large amount of insulin released after a high GI meal because insulin drives the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan into the brain.
3. Chamomile Tea
Drinking chamomile tea is extremely relaxing, and research evidence backs this up. According to researchers, drinking the tea is associated with an increase of glycine, an amino acid that acts as a mild sedative and encourages the muscles and nerves to relax.
Walnuts are a good source of tryptophan, an amino acid that produces two key neurotransmitters, serotonin, and melatonin. Serotonin helps regulate your mood, keeping you from being depressed, and melatonin’s main job is to regulate sleep-wake cycles so that you get tired at night and wake up in the morning. Snack on a handful of walnuts an hour or so before bedtime, and enjoy a restful night.
Having a salad with dinner may help you sleep better thanks to a phytonutrient called lactucarium, which is said to promote relaxation, relieve pain and induce sleep. According to Oregon State University’s Wellness Ink, lactucarium boasts sedative-like properties which can affect the brain the same way opium does.
6. Fatty Fish
Fish, such as tuna, salmon, and sardines, are not only incredibly healthy but can also help you sleep better. They’re high in B vitamins, which your body needs to produce sleep-inducing hormones. Additionally, fatty fish are all excellent sources of vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D are directly related to poor sleep quality. Participants who took more vitamin D saw a significant improvement in sleep quality.
Avocados high amounts of monounsaturated fat can increase your serotonin level, which helps produce healthy sleeping patterns as well as boost your mood. They are also high in magnesium, which is directly linked to improving the duration and quality of sleep. Learn more about avocados: 6 Reasons Why Avocados Are Good for You
8. Tart Cherry Juice
According to research, a glass of cherry juice could make you fall asleep faster. Particularly tart cherries naturally boost levels of melatonin, the hormone that helps induce sleepiness. One study even found that tart cherry juice had similar effects on sleep onset than melatonin supplements or valerian. Just two daily servings of tart cherry juice a day may lead to increased sleep quality and sleep time.
Not a cherry juice fan? Try kiwi. The fuzzy tropical fruit contains serotonin and antioxidants that may improve your sleep. One study found that having two kiwifruits an hour before bedtime for four weeks significantly improved participants’ sleep quality and how quickly they fell asleep.
Beans are a good source of protein and fiber to keep you full throughout the night. A study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that the more fiber in a person’s diet, the more time they spent in restorative sleep. The reason is fiber can prevent blood sugar spikes that may lower melatonin. Plus, one cup of cooked black, navy, kidney, lima or pinto beans provides half of your suggested daily intake of tryptophan.
Bananas are well known for being rich in potassium, but they are also a good source of magnesium. Potassium and magnesium are both natural muscle relaxants that can help you fall asleep faster. Plus bananas are a good source of tryptophan, which finally is converted to serotonin and melatonin.
12. Sweet Potato
These orange-fleshed beauties can help you sleep better overall. Just like bananas, they are a great source of muscle-relaxing potassium. Sweet potatoes are also a great source of complex carbohydrates that help promote better sleep.
13. Leafy Greens
Leafy Greens are loaded with calcium, which many people struggle to get enough of. Calcium is responsible for more than just healthy bones. It also helps the brain use tryptophan to manufacture the sleep-promoting melatonin. The best way to consume leafy greens is to juice them: The Best Juicer for Leafy Greens.
Grapes are high in levels of melatonin. In fact, they are the only fruit to contain the sleep-regulating hormone, so by adding them to your diet, you can help boost the natural sleep-wake cycle in your body. They are also rich in sleep-inducing B vitamins, calcium, magnesium and potassium.
Eggs are high in amino acids that are known to stimulate neurons that produce orexins, which play a key role in adjusting REM sleep and daytime wakefulness.
These miracle legumes are full of protein, but they are also jam-packed with vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 is paramount to helping your body produce melatonin, which can aid in helping you fall asleep.
Elk meat has almost twice the tryptophan that turkey breast has. If you can get your hands on some elk steak, then it is sure to end in a good night’s sleep.
Oats are a sleeper’s dream. They are an excellent source of natural melatonin, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, all of which are helpful for sleep. The complex carbs in oats will also stimulate the release of serotonin, and put you in the mood to snooze.
19. Warm Milk
Your mom had the right idea when you were a kid -- warm milk really can help make you sleepy. It’s packed with calcium, which helps your muscles relax. Plus, milk contains tryptophan that helps the body produce the melatonin you need for a good night’s sleep.
Foods made with soy such as edamame, miso and tofu are rich in isoflavones, which are positively associated with optimal sleep duration and quality. According to a 2015 Nutrition Journal Study, adults who ate at least two soy servings a day reported the best sleep quality and slept longer.
A good night’s sleep is incredibly important for your health. Fortunately, several foods may help, thanks to their sleep-inducing hormones, amino acids, and minerals. To reap all the benefits of sleep-inducing foods, consume them a few hours before you go to bed. Moderation is the key, eating too much of the 20 foods before bed can cause you to lose sleep because your body is focused on digestion.