An average adult needs at least seven hours of sleep each night to maintain good health. Sleep is vital for our physical and mental well-being, as it is a time when our brain and body can repair and restore back to normal.
However, 1 in 3 Americans doesn’t get enough sleep on a daily basis. As a result, they may feel moody, unable to focus, exhausted, and their work or academic performance may suffer. That’s why some people search for strategies to improve their sleep, allowing them to feel well-rested in the morning.
One of the ways to improve sleep is to change your diet. So, read on to discover some of the best foods and beverages you can consume before bed to help you fall and stay asleep.
The Best Foods to Help You Sleep
Food is the fuel for our body, and what we eat impacts every aspect of our lives, including our sleep. Specific nutrients, vitamins, hormones, enzymes, and other compounds found in foods are directly or indirectly involved in the quality of our sleep. Some of the most important ones are:
- Vitamin D
- Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)
So, if you want to improve your sleep quality, you should consume foods with some of these nutrients. Here are our top picks according to nutrient profiles and available research.
Nuts like almonds, pistachios, walnuts, and cashews are good for sleep as they are an excellent source of many minerals and nutrients. Nuts contain melatonin, a hormone vital for our sleep cycle. Your brain starts producing this hormone in the evening in the absence of light. Melatonin makes us sleepy, signaling our brain that it’s time to rest. Once we fall asleep, melatonin helps us stay asleep and prevents awakenings.
In addition, nuts contain minerals like zinc, magnesium, and calcium, which are essential for relaxing your muscles and helping you fall asleep easier. So, eating a handful of nuts in the evening could improve your sleep quality.
Kiwi contains many sleep-promoting compounds, including melatonin, serotonin, anthocyanins, and minerals like magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Because of that, kiwi is the perfect fruit snack for the evening.
One small study discovered that eating two kiwis one hour before bedtime helped people fall asleep faster. In addition, it increased their sleep duration and quality as people experienced fewer sleep disturbances.
Consuming fatty fish provides a healthy dose of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, essential for regulating serotonin levels. This hormone is necessary for mood regulation, but it’s also a precursor for melatonin production.
One study discovered that consuming salmon three times a week had beneficial effects on men’s sleep quality. It helped people fall asleep faster and have better overall sleep, improving daytime functioning.
Besides being delicious, turkey is also a great source of many nutrients and minerals. It is packed with protein, and this macronutrient can promote tiredness. In addition, studies show that eating moderate amounts of protein could improve sleep quality by reducing the number of times you wake up during the night.
Turkey also contains the amino acid tryptophan, essential for melatonin production. You know how you feel sleepy after a Thanksgiving dinner? Well, tryptophan is one of the culprits. That’s why you can have turkey for regular dinner and enjoy a better sleep.
You may remember having the best sleep of your life after drinking a warm glass of milk as a kid. But you can do the same as an adult, as research shows that consuming milk or cheese could help older adults fall asleep easier. The results are even better when paired with light activity, so this could be your go-to solution if you struggle to fall asleep.
The secret is in the high-tryptophan content of milk and milk products. So feel free to have a glass of milk, or eat yogurt or cottage cheese in the evening, as it can make it easier to fall asleep.
Tart Cherry Juice
Tart cherries contain melatonin and antioxidants, making them an excellent evening snack. A pilot study discovered that people who drank two glasses of tart cherry juice per day enjoyed better sleep at night and fewer insomnia symptoms. They had better sleep efficiency and longer sleep time than people who didn’t drink tart cherry juice.
So, drinking tart cherry juice in the evening could help you fall asleep easier and stay asleep throughout the night.
If you are not a big fan of tart cherry juice, you can try chamomile tea, as this hot beverage is a perfect way to relax in the evening. Chamomile contains many health-promoting compounds that improve sleep, including apigenin and other antioxidants.
Drinking chamomile tea can improve sleep quality and ease depression symptoms in women who have recently given birth. Although the results are somewhat mixed on whether this herbal tea could significantly reduce insomnia symptoms and boost sleep quality, it can be an excellent relaxing addition to your bedtime routine.
Should I Eat Before Sleep?
You should avoid eating or drinking right before bedtime because it can cause digestive issues and sleep disturbances. So, if you want to get the most benefits out of these sleep-inducing foods and drinks, you should consume them 2-3 hours before going to bed.
In addition, avoid eating or drinking too much in the evening, as it will most likely cause you to wake up in the middle of the night.
Should I Eat in Bed?
If you have recently bought an Alaskan king bed, you may feel tempted to have breakfast or dinner in bed as there is so much space. However, eating in bed is not a good idea because it makes your bed a breeding ground for bacteria and germs, causing your Alaskan king mattress to deteriorate faster. Buying an Alaskan king mattress protector will help a little bit, but avoiding meals in bed is a better option.