Best Bedtime Foods to Help You Sleep Better
There’s a myth that eating before bed is bad for your health.
But depending on what kinds of food you eat before bed, this is a misconception that can actually stop you from sleeping well at night.
Eating sleep-friendly foods right before bed is a little-known health hack that anyone can use.
In this article, we’ll cover all the best foods that help you sleep well and without interruption through morning.
Magnesium and sleep have been correlated for a long time, so it’s no wonder that people are taking advantage of this information.
How does magnesium help sleep? By promoting healthy levels of GABA, which encourages the brain and body to relax.
Foods that are high in magnesium include:
- Dark chocolate
- Leafy greens
Not only does magnesium help with getting a better sleep, it also benefits the body in several other ways. Some of these benefits include migraine prevention, stress relief, and easier digestion.
Magnesium comes in many supplemental forms.You can get tablets, powders, and liquids from your local drug stores. One of the easiest ways to take magnesium is a powdered form. Just stir it into a glass of water or a smoothie and drink.
However, take care to not mix your magnesium powder into something with high sugar, as high sugar intake before bedtime can have a negative impact on sleep quality.
Your sleep problems could be a matter of not having enough magnesium in your system—but how can you tell? Symptoms of magnesium deficiency include insomnia, irregular sleep patterns, and fatigue.
There’s a reason for that good old “Warm cup of milk.” Milk is one of the best things to drink before bed. You can have it with cereal, granola, or even some piping hot oatmeal. Milk is also good heated up with honey and cinnamon.
Tryptophan, found in milk, is an important amino acid that helps to induce sleep. Melatonin, a more well-known hormone, is also found in this creamy drink.
Melatonin is a natural hormone that regulates sleep and helps to decrease insomnia and random periods of waking. This hormone also works to reduce stress and anxiety, so take advantage of all the sleep-related benefits milk can offer you.
For a sweet, but healthy nighttime snack option, choose Greek yogurt. Not only is it sweet and flavorful, but you can add whatever fruits and grains you like to make it even more appealing to your taste buds.
Greek yogurt is a lovely and healthy alternative to ice cream and frozen yogurt, too, as it doesn’t have nearly as much sugar. Greek yogurt is not as heavily processed, either, and even has a number of dairy free options for those with allergies.
Not only does it have melatonin and tryptophan just like milk, but it also has probiotics. Probiotics settle your stomach and encourage the growth of healthy gut bacteria, all of which benefits a solid sleep.
To make your pre-bed snack more exciting, you can add a sprinkling of fruit slices, nuts, and honey. Berries are another delicious Greek yogurt topping, as are dried fruits like mango and papaya. For something unique, try adding chia seeds, granola, or pomegranate seeds.
Dark Chocolate-Covered Almonds
Both dark chocolate and almonds contain magnesium, so why not have them both at the same time? Almonds contain a satisfying crunch and dark chocolate is sweet and satisfying but with far less sugar than milk chocolate. The two together make an irresistible snack for anyone who is craving sugar. Those with a sweet tooth will really appreciate this combination, too.
These delicious treats also contain antioxidants, which help slow aging and prevent cancer, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Eating a small amount of dark chocolate-covered almonds may also be linked to lower cholesterol levels, making it not only a delicious snack choice but a healthy one as well.
Have you ever felt tired after having a turkey dinner? I bet your answer is ‘yes’. Turkey is not only a great way to celebrate holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas, but it’s also an option for those who have trouble falling asleep.
This is because eating large amounts of protein before bed has been known to induce sleepiness. The body gets busy breaking down that food you just ate—an action that requires energy.
Turkey also contains tryptophan, which, when coupled with all that energy required to digest healthy proteins, increases your need to sleep. Other nutrients and health benefits of turkey include, but are not limited to:
- Potassium and zinc
- Lowers cholesterol
- B vitamins
- Low in saturated fat
- Cancer prevention
If you’re looking for a warm, soothing alternative to over-the-counter sleep medicines, look no further than chamomile tea. This tea helps the body and mind relax, increasing the likelihood of undisturbed sleep.
An antioxidant called apigenin, found in the chamomile flower, may be linked to the well-known effects of this natural sleep aid. Antioxidants work to decrease stress and anxiety in the brain and encourage longer, undisturbed rest.
Not only do kiwis contribute to better sleep, they’re also one of the healthiest fruits you can eat. They are rich in vitamins like C, K, and E. They also have hefty doses of folate, potassium, and antioxidants.
Kiwi is high in a neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin helps with cognitive function, memory, and learning. Believed to be a neurotransmitter responsible for aiding good moods and reducing the inflammatory response, small doses of serotonin can be incredibly beneficial.
Another fruit that can benefit your sleep is the tart cherry. Tart cherries can be consumed either naturally or in a juice or sauce. Recent studies have shown that people who drink tart cherry juice before bed have a deeper, less disrupted sleep.
Not only are cherries delicious, but they’re also packed full of antioxidants that act as an anti-inflammatory. They boast a small amount of melatonin too, and can be a convenient alternative to melatonin supplements.
Who would have thought carbs would be a good choice before bed?
White rice has a high glycemic index which helps with digestion and creating a spike in insulin. This helps our tryptophans to encourage our brains to fall into rest mode, allowing us to sleep longer, with fewer random moments of wakefulness.
Also, white rice is chock-full of everything from fiber and folate to manganese and thiamin. White rice is usually enriched with vitamins and minerals, too. These include B vitamins, iron, and calcium.
Like rice, oatmeal is high on the glycemic index. It contributes to drowsiness in much the same way, too, and packs a solid amount of melatonin.
Oatmeal is a fast-acting sleep aid, which makes it the perfect choice for those who wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep. Drizzle a little honey and nuts on this warm treat and you’ll be asleep again in no time.
Yet another dairy product, cottage cheese is a delicious and healthy snack at any time of the day or night. Like Greek yogurt, you can get really creative with it. Nuts, berries, and fruit are all wonderful options, as are spreads like honey, peanut butter, and jam.
Add a touch of raspberries for a dose of antioxidants and melatonin and you’ll be asleep in no time. Other options that also have antioxidants include pomegranate seeds, grapes, and blueberries. If you want to get really unique with your bedtime snack, try pecans, avocados, or shredded carrots with oatmeal.
The protein in cottage cheese consists of amino acids that support and contribute to healthy metabolism and muscle. And because protein is digested slowly, you can eat a small bowl of cottage cheese 30-40 minutes before bed and still feel full by the time it’s time to sleep.
Eat Well, Sleep Well
While there are many over-the-counter drugs that can aid in sleeping, not all of them are healthy for you long-term.
That’s why you shouldn’t be afraid to eat before bed. Food is a natural, DIY choice as a sleep aid. And not only that, but you gain other benefits from eating food such as energy, vitamins, and essential nutrients.
Of course, a consistent sleep schedule with between 7 and 8 hours of sleep a night is imperative to your health, well-being, and job performance. A more restful sleep thanks to sleep-aiding snacks will increase your body’s anti-inflammatory response, decrease stress, and give you better decision-making skills and a sharper memory.