Food and sleep share a complex relationship. In some cases, what you eat may mean the difference between a good night’s rest and insomnia. Foods that help you sleep can easily be found in grocery stores. Learn more about 10 easy-to-find foods for sleep.
Almonds contain both tryptophan, an amino acid that acts as a sedative, and magnesium, which acts as a muscle relaxant. Tryptophan is a substance found in many sleep foods.
Bananas contain melatonin and serotonin, chemicals known to help the body sleep, as well as magnesium. Some people consider bananas one of the most important sleep foods.
Chamomile tea’s mild sedating effect has helped many restless people fall asleep.
Flaxseeds are bursting with omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are natural mood lifters that can help prepare the body and mind for sleep.
Consuming too much sugar before bedtime can make it difficult to fall asleep. However, a small amount of glucose before bedtime causes the brain to stop producing orexin, a neurotransmitter that keeps people alert. Add a little honey to milk prior to bedtime to combine two foods to sleep better.
Food and Sleep: Milk and Dairy Products
In addition to tryptophan, milk and dairy products contain calcium, which helps the brain effectively use its own supply of tryptophan.
Oatmeal and Foods to Sleep Better
Oatmeal contains melatonin, which prepares the body for sleep. To increase its effectiveness, combine oatmeal with milk and top it with a drizzle of honey.
Eating a small baked potato can help clear the body of acids that block the effects of tryptophan.
As many Thanksgiving diners have experienced, turkey contains sleep-inducing tryptophan. To get the most from the tryptophan in turkey, eat a slice of white turkey meat on a slice of whole-wheat bread in the middle of the evening.
Eating a slice of whole-wheat bread triggers the release of insulin, which helps deliver tryptophan to the brain, where the amino acid is converted into serotonin.
You can find an effective combination of foods that help you sleep. For example, try drizzling whole-wheat bread with honey and washing it down with a warm glass of milk.
Foods for Sleep: Dinners and Desserts
Foods that help you sleep sometimes work best in combination. Try incorporating different sleep foods into evening meals. Possibilities include:
- Toasted turkey and Swiss cheese sandwiches on whole-wheat bread
- Turkey cutlets and mashed potatoes
- Turkey salad topped with toasted almonds
- Whole-wheat pasta tossed with butter and parmesan cheese.
Follow up dinner with dessert foods for sleep:
- Chamomile tea sweetened with honey
- Ice cream topped with toasted almonds and bananas
- Milk with a whole-wheat cookie
- Oatmeal topped with sliced bananas
- Slice of whole-wheat bread topped with peanut butter and bananas
- Yogurt topped with toasted almonds and drizzled with honey.
Keep portions small, as heavy meals can interfere with sleep. As a general rule, allow several hours between dinner and bedtime.
AskDrSears.com (2006). Foods for sleep. Retrieved October 8, 2010, from http://www.askdrsears.com/html/4/T042400.asp.
Impact Lab. (2010). Top 10 foods for a good night’s sleep. Retrieved October 8, 2010, from http://www.impactlab.net/2007/01/28/top-10-foods-for-a-good-nights-sleep/.