Some people have trouble falling asleep. Others can’t stay asleep. And then there are the people who have trouble turning life “off” and tucking into bed at a reasonable hour.
Whatever the reason, we’re not alone—more than 50 million Americans don’t get enough shut-eye. Yet the health benefits of a good night’s rest are countless: sleep helps keep you happy, your brain sharp, your immune system strong, your waistline trim, your skin looking youthful—and lowers your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
Let's take a look at 10 foods that can help you sleep better:
Grab some fresh cherries or a glass of cherry juice before bed, and you can start catching Zs in no time. Researchers have found drinking tart cherry juice right before bed helps you fall asleep. Some studies suggest it is more effective than taking melatonin supplements.
A glass of warm milk before bed has long been thought of as the ultimate sleep remedy. Since calcium promotes relaxation and has a calming effect on the body’s nervous system, try drinking milk or a non-dairy milk substitute that’s calcium-fortified before you start your nighttime routine.
Most fish—and especially salmon, halibut and tuna—boast vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness), according to an article published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. Everyday Health recommends a 3-ounce serving of fish at least two times per week to aid in restful sleep.
4. Jasmine rice
When healthy sleepers ate carbohydrate-rich suppers of veggies and tomato sauce over rice, they fell asleep significantly faster at bedtime if the meal included high-glycemic-index (GI) jasmine rice rather than lower-GI long-grain rice, in a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. While the authors aren’t sure how it happened, they speculated that the greater amounts of insulin triggered by the high-GI meals increased the ratio of sleep-inducing tryptophan relative to other amino acids in the blood, allowing proportionately more to get into the brain.
The magnesium and potassium in bananas serve as muscle and nerve relaxants. Dudash says that the vitamin B6 found in the fruit also converts tryptophan into serotonin, increasing relaxation even more.
Oysters contain a sleep-inducing mixture of zinc, iron, magnesium, and vitamin B11. According to Livestrong, oysters are the best food source of magnesium and zinc. A 3-ounce portion of cooked oysters provides 19% of the daily recommended amount of magnesium and well over 1,000% of your RDA of zinc.
7. Herbal tea
No surprise here, but herbal tea has tons of snooze-promoting properties. "Chamomile tea is excellent for calming nerves before bedtime," says London. "It's also hydrating and stomach-soothing, same as ginger tea."
A study from Taiwan’s Taipei Medical University found that eating two kiwi fruits around an hour before bedtime had surprising results. Psychology Today reports that study participants fell asleep more quickly, with a decrease in falling-asleep time of 35.4 percent. They also slept 28.9 percent more soundly and slept better, with a 42.4 percent improvement on a standardized sleep quality questionnaire. Overall, total sleep time for the study subjects increased by 13.4 percent.
A study published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine found that if the body is suffering from low levels of magnesium, sleep problems often ensue. The National Institutes of Health lists almonds as the number one source of magnesium; adding almonds to your diet is good all around, but may be especially good for boosting some shut-eye.
10. Peanut butter
Peanut butter also pack in filling protein too. Spread it on graham crackers, a banana or that sweet potato toast. Again, keep your dollop under a tablespoon so you're not feeling too stuffed before heading to bed.