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Sleep Tips

The Top 6 Foods to Help You Sleep

If you're in need of a better night's sleep, you should consider your diet as part of your sleep hygiene practices. While it may seem unexpected, your diet can actually impact your sleep quantity and quality. Research has shown there are certain foods that help you sleep through the night while rich, heavy and spicy foods can hinder your sleep.

If you're looking to get better sleep tonight, check out this list of foods to help improve sleep quality and quantity:

Foods to Help You Sleep

Poultry

According to Healthline, turkey and chicken are good sources of protein and can help you fall asleep. Since protein can induce sleepiness, research evidence suggests that eating moderate amounts of protein is associated with improved sleep quality. And, since poultry products contain tryptophan, an amino acid only obtained from food and drink, it can actually help you sleep.

Fatty Fish

Healthline also reports that fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, are a good choice for nighttime fare as they are a rich source of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids (especially EPA and DHA). Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and promote heart and brain health, and vitamin D and omega-3s both are beneficial to sleep because they stimulate the production of serotonin.

Dairy

The American Sleep Association notes that dairy products (yogurt, milk, cheese and cottage cheese) are among the best sources of calcium. This is important because calcium helps the body process melatonin and tryptophan. When combined with melatonin supplements and exercise, milk has even been proven to improve sleep in the elderly.

Nuts

According to Healthline, nuts are not only rich in nutrients, but also they contain melatonin. In fact, walnuts are one of the best food sources of this sleep-inducing hormone. So, for the perfect bedtime snack, try a handful of almonds or walnuts.

Also, walnuts contain healthy fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids and linoleic acid, which may help improve sleep by promoting the production of serotonin. And, almonds are an excellent source of magnesium, with just one ounce (about a handful) providing 19% of the adult daily requirement. Since magnesium improves the quality of sleep by easing inflammation and reducing cortisol, a stress hormone which can make someone feel wired, almonds can be the perfect pre-bed snack to increase your sleep quality.

Fruits

The National Sleep Foundation recommends adding fruits rich in melatonin to your menu to fall asleep faster and wake up less often at night. Good choices are whole tart cherries, tart cherry juice, raspberries, bananas, oranges and pineapple. Bananas also contain healthy amounts of magnesium and potassium, two essential minerals that help prevent wakefulness during the night.

And, for chronic insomnia, try kiwi fruit. Healthline reports that one study found that people who eat two kiwis one hour before bedtime for one month fall asleep 42% more quickly than they would have if they had eaten nothing. Improvements in the ability to sleep through the night and total sleep time were noted as well.

Whole Grain Foods

The National Sleep Foundation also suggests that it is best to avoid foods made with refined flour as they are often highly processed and can impair sleep by reducing serotonin levels. Instead, choose foods containing whole grains such as oatmeal, whole grain breads, whole wheat pasta and whole wheat crackers. The Sleep Association agrees, noting that whole grains encourage insulin production, which stimulates tryptophan activity in the brain.

In short, the foods listed above are not only healthy in themselves: they can also increase sleep quality by acting on chemicals in the body such as serotonin. Consider some combination of these foods above for a nighttime snack that will make it easier to get the sleep your body needs to stay healthy and strong!

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