12 Best Nighttime Foods for Better Sleep
What we consume has a significant impact on how the body functions, and few functions are more important than sleep. To find out which foods could improve sleep, and in turn help you feel at your best, keep reading.
Which foods help you sleep better?
The idea that food and drink fundamentally change how we think and feel is nothing new. Still, when you consider the impact of certain foods on functions such as sleep, the weight of that statement starts to hit home. Without restful sleep, the mind and body wouldn’t repair cells, restore energy, and release beneficial hormones.
However, like everything in life, some foods can help sleep, while others can hinder it. Lucky for you, we will focus on the former, outlining several foods rich in sleep-inducing substances such as melatonin, magnesium, GABA, tryptophan, and serotonin. Below, you’ll find a list of twelve foods that are perfect as a late-night snack.
First up is pistachios, greenish nuts from the pistachio tree. However, it’s not the colour we’re interested in, but the unsaturated fatty acids, vitamin B6, and magnesium. The latter, especially, could prove pivotal to a peaceful night because of its role in sleep regulation.
The watch-out with pistachios is not eating too many before bed. Unfortunately, excessive late-night calories can force the body to prioritise digestion over shutting down, potentially disrupting a restful night’s sleep.
Almonds follow in similar footsteps to pistachios, being packed full of antioxidants, vitamin E, and the sleep-friendly mineral magnesium. However, almonds have something pistachios don’t—they are a natural source of the sleep hormone melatonin.
Keeping melatonin levels topped up can help support a healthy sleep-wake cycle, which is pivotal if you’re struggling to fall asleep.
It’s hard to imagine a group of scientists gathering for a yearly walnut conference, but that’s exactly what’s been happening for the last fifty years. Why? Because walnuts are considered one of the most valuable nut varieties thanks to their incredibly high antioxidant activity.
Containing over 19 vitamins and minerals, walnuts not only support the immune system, but are one of the best food sources of melatonin around.
Widely regarded for their health-boosting effects, recommending bananas as a bedtime snack may not be a surprise. However, for sleep specifically, bananas contain two sought-after compounds—tryptophan and potassium. Provisional research suggests the former could reduce sleep latency, while the latter is linked to improved sleep quality. Either way, the nutritional value makes bananas a solid pick as a bedtime snack.
Don’t let the furry exterior put you off; kiwis offer a host of benefits, especially if you’re struggling with sleep. Many of those improvements stem from the fruit’s plentiful supply of vitamins (C & K) and serotonin, a compound that can help to regulate mood and anxiety disorders. It’s also a chemical precursor to melatonin, directly supporting a balanced sleep-wake cycle. For best results, try consuming 1–2 kiwis before bed (skin and all if you like).
Remember that glass of milk you used to drink before bed? Well, it turns out there may have been a tangible benefit to sleep. Dairy products, like milk and cottage cheese, are a plentiful source of the amino acid tryptophan. Most of the data surrounding tryptophan suggests that doses of 1g or more can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep.
If you already find it pretty easy to fall asleep, then tryptophan won’t have a significant impact, but if you have mild insomnia, it could give your body a push in the right direction.
Tart cherry juice
While we wouldn’t recommend eating tart cherries raw (they are incredibly bitter), they taste great dried, frozen, or juiced. Of course, it’s not the taste that people are most interested in, but the nutrients and vitamins. Compared to sweet cherries, the tart variety contains up to twenty times more vitamin A.
Tart cherry juice is also a fantastic source of melatonin, similar to walnuts and almonds. If you prefer to have a drink before bed, rather than food, tart cherry juice is the ideal choice.
The chamomile plant contains a plethora of terpenes and flavonoids, the combination of which researchers believe could encourage healthy sleep. Work is still underway to examine each compound in detail, but one that stands out is apigenin. The bioflavonoid may produce sedative-like effects, helping you fall asleep faster.
Chamomile tea is widely available and ready in minutes, so if you’re struggling with sleep, you’ve nothing to lose by giving it a try.
The second herbal tea on our list, passionflower tea, owes much of its sleep-inducing prowess to a compound we’re already familiar with—apigenin. Fortunately, it looks like you don’t need to drink much passionflower tea to benefit from its effects. One cup a night, for a week, was enough to improve the sleep quality scores in 41 participants. And, again, just like chamomile, passionflower tea is easy to get hold of and straightforward to try.
It turns out turkey could have its uses outside of holiday celebrations. Turkey meat is high in protein and tryptophan, although using it to support sleep requires some thought. We already know that tryptophan could help improve sleep quality, but excess protein, especially late at night, plays havoc with your body temperature. If you want to avoid night sweats, stick to just one turkey sandwich before bed.
Eating fatty fish, or more specifically, omega-3 fatty acids, is great for various health conditions. And, even better, it looks like we can add sleep to that list too. Most of the benefits to sleep come from the synergy between omega-fatty acids and vitamin D. Together, they can boost serotonin, the neurochemical involved in the REM sleep stage and a chemical precursor to melatonin.
Barley grass powder
A frequent addition to smoothies and juices, barley grass powder is thought to be a vitally important cereal crop, and for a good reason. Research suggests it could have many benefits for human health, not least of all because of its impact on sleep.
It contains not one, but three compounds pivotal to improving sleep. With high GABA, potassium, and tryptophan levels, one glass a night could be exactly what you need to drift peacefully to sleep.
What foods to avoid before going to bed?
So far, we’ve focused exclusively on beneficial foods. But if you’re wondering what food or drink to avoid, the answer is simple—pretty much anything processed or high in sugar. There are a couple more to be aware of, but we’ll cover those in a dedicated article. That’s not to say you cannot enjoy those substances at all, but it’s important to be mindful when you’re eating them. The closer you get to bedtime, the greater their impact on your sleep quality.
Ready to explore some of our sleep-inducing food and drink recommendations? Why not browse the Cibdol store for a wide selection of natural sleep products? Or, to take a closer look at the importance of sleep and what happens to the body at night, visit our CBD Encyclopedia for everything you need to know.
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