Better Sleep Month: 11 Foods for Restful Nights

This month is all about getting the sleep you need and deserve, thanks to the celebration of Better Sleep Month, and we’re dedicating our blog to a variety of ways you can get better sleep.

Believe it or not, one of the easiest ways to help get you to sleep is imbibing in the right pre-bed snack. The following 11 foods all have one very important thing in common – they boost your ability to get to (and stay) asleep.

1. Cherries

A great source of melatonin (the hormone that plays a key role in the sleep-wake cycle), cherries can be eaten in any form to help get you to sleep – fresh, dried, or even as a juice. A recent sleep study showed that people who drank cherry juice before bed fell asleep faster and stayed asleep longer.

2. Rice

Jasmine rice is a high glycemic index food, which means that the body digests it more slowly, allowing for the progressive release of glucose into the bloodstream. Studies have shown that this increases the production of tryptophan – an amino acid that has been shown to increase the feeling of sleepiness.

3. Hummus

Made from chickpeas and high in vitamin B6 and tryptophan, hummus is a healthy addition to snack time that also happens to raise your ability to fall asleep. Try pairing it with baby carrots, pita chips, or even slices of red or green peppers for added flavor and crunch.

4. Fish

It’s not just bedtime snacks that can help you get some sleep. Those that eat salmon, halibut, or tuna for dinner get a serious boost of vitamin B6, which encourages the pineal gland to produce melatonin. Fish is also rich in tryptophan, which produces both melatonin and serotonin – the sleep and relaxation hormones, respectively. Shrimp and lobster are also great additions to your dinner menu when you’re looking to get some quality sleep.

5. Sweet Potatoes

A great source of sleep-promoting complex carbohydrates, as well as muscle-relaxing potassium, sweet potatoes have been shown to increase both slow-wave and REM sleep.

6. Bananas

Rich in magnesium, potassium, and vitamin B6, this yellow superfood packs a mighty punch when it comes to helping you get better sleep. Bananas promote muscle relaxation and the production of melatonin and tryptophan, and that adds up to some quality sack time!

7. Turkey

One of the most well-known producers of tryptophan, turkey is the main reason that you feel so ready for a nap after Thanksgiving dinner. Pairing this popular meat with a source of complex carbs (such as sweet potatoes) will give you an even higher sleep-inducing effect.

8. Walnuts and Almonds

Walnuts are loaded with tryptophan, serotonin, and melatonin – a powerful punch for a little nut! And almonds are packed with magnesium, which has been shown to help people fall asleep faster. Just a handful of one or both of these nuts before bed can do wonders for helping you get better sleep.

9. Pineapple

Studies have shown that fewer other foods in the world boosts the production of melatonin as well as the spiky pineapple. People that ate pineapple were found to have a 266% increase of melatonin, compared to those that had not.

10. Lettuce

Packed with relaxation-inducing lactucarium (known as lettuce opium for its sedative and analgesic effects), lettuce has been used for many years as a treatment for insomnia.

11. Honey

A naturally occurring sugar, honey gives just the right rise of insulin levels, allowing tryptophan to travel freely throughout the brain. Even just a tablespoon of honey has been shown to encourage a peaceful night’s rest.

Any (and all) of these foods should help you get to sleep easily and naturally. Be sure to avoid eating any food right before bed – instead, try one of these pre-bedtime snacks at least one hour before turning in for the night, in order to get the maximum results and better sleep.