I am a foodie, I love everything about food. There probably is nothing on this earth that I will not try once. Do you love it as much as I do? If so, let me fill you in on a little secret. There are certain foods that can help you fall asleep naturally! Wait, what?
Yes, that’s right, there are foods out there that actually help you fall asleep instead of sinking in your gut and causing indigestion and late night belly aches. So, what are these foods, you ask? Follow me through this wonderful journey and I will fill you in. Ready? Let’s go!
See related article: Get the Inside Scoop on Sleep Inducing Foods
#1 Cherry Juice Is Oh So Delicious
If you are looking to fall asleep naturally without the help of medication, try a cup of cherry juice. Cherries that are tart are loaded with melatonin, which is a natural hormone found in the human body to help regulate sleep cycles.
So, instead of choking down a pill, drink a cup of cherry juice to help make you sleepy. If you don’t like the taste of tart cherries, add a little vanilla extract for added flavor.
#2 Who Cut The Cheese..And Crackers?
I got jokes, right? Anyway, cheese and crackers are a great bedtime snack for those who want to fall asleep without the aid of supplements.
The reason for this is because cheese is loaded with calcium. The calcium can help the tryptophan in the brain to manufacture more melatonin, that wonderful sleep-regulating chemical.
Stay away from stinky cheeses before bed, though. I tend to stay away from stinky cheese altogether, it isn’t very appealing to the nose.
#3 Warm Milk & Honey Is Oh So Yummy
Just like babies, if you were given a cup of warm milk, it can make you sleepy. It has some sort of psychological effect to make you drowsy.
The calcium in the milk also helps make you drowsy because it tells a part of the brain to make more melatonin.
Honey, on the other hand, contains a type of chemical that turns into serotonin, which then turns to melatonin.
#4 Shrimp, Lobster & Crab
I am not a fan of seafood, but apparently, it’s a great food for better sleep.
The reason for this is because they are a good source of tryptophan, which we now know leads to more melatonin production.
So, if you want to fall asleep easier and stay asleep longer, eat a crab cake, sushi roll, lobster tail, whatever tickles your taste buds.
#5 Chamomile & Lavender Tea
Chamomile tea contains a bioflavonoid that attaches to GABA receptors in the brain. Yeah, I have no idea what that means either, but it seems important.
This process has the same mild effect as an anti-anxiety drug which helps to calm the brain down. When you combine this with lavender, which acts as a relaxant, you will feel more relaxed and sleep better.
Fun facts, bioflavonoids can also improve vision.
Wait, isn’t grapefruit a breakfast item? Now, grapefruit is considered to be a great bedtime snack because it contains lycopene.
Lycopene has been known to help improve the quality of sleep, protects against cancer, and acts as an anti-aging element. Maybe I should go out and get some of this for sleep, not the anti-aging, I swear.
Here we have another magical fruit, the more you eat, the more you toot, that’s how it goes, right? Oh, that’s for beans, nevermind.
As I was saying, papaya is a great source of Vitamin C. This helps with serotonin production, which in turn, turns into melatonin. And as we all know, melatonin is that magical hormone that makes us sleepy.
Almonds are delicious in just about anything. I love to put them in salads, I love almond joy candy bars, and I love to eat them right out of the bag. For me, this is a great natural food for sleep.
Before bed, pop a few almonds and feel the wonderful effects they have on your sleep cycle. Almonds contain magnesium, which has a relaxation effect. Relaxation leads to better sleep habits and we all love good sleep habits.
#9 Beans, The Wonderful Fruit
Ah, there it is, except beans aren’t actually a fruit, it is just funny to say. So why are beans on the list?
Beans have B vitamins and these vitamins are known to treat stress, insomnia, and anxiety. Beans have many beneficial B vitamins that can help you sleep better.
I love tomatoes on everything. Have you ever tried a grilled tomato and cheese sandwich? If not, you should.
Tomatoes as a bedtime snack are great for the body because they contain lycopene. The lycopene has an effect on the body to help it sleep better, not to mention, again, it has anti-aging properties.
Grapes are a great snack in general. Kids love them, they are great in fruit salads, and they are perfect bedtime snacks.
These bedtime snacks contain a nice amount of melatonin. The melatonin will help you drift off into a peaceful sleep and help you stay asleep.
It is much cheaper to buy a bag of grapes than it is to buy a bottle of melatonin.
Yogurt is a great source of calcium because it is made from milk and as we now know, calcium triggers another chemical which tells the brain to make more melatonin. The melatonin will, in turn, help you sleep.
The other stuff in yogurt adds good bacteria to your digestive system and will help you digest things better and reduce any digestive problems you may have. Once these problems are resolved, it can help inhibit sleep.
Any time I think of yogurt for digestive health, I think of Jamie Lee Curtis and the Activia commercials.
I’m Popeye the sailor man, toot toot. That’s the first thing that pops into my head when I think about spinach. Do you remember him? He would eat a can of spinach to make him stronger? The last thing I would think about is having it as a bedtime snack. Apparently, spinach is high in magnesium, potassium, and calcium. All of these things help produce melatonin, therefore giving you a better quality of sleep.
Again, not something that I would think would be a good bedtime snack. I’ve had it in shakes for weight loss, but not as a snack to help me sleep. Kale isn’t very tasty, so I applaud anyone who can eat it raw.
Kale is a great source of calcium and other minerals and vitamins that work well as a sleep aid. As we all know, calcium helps product melatonin.
#15 Passion Fruit
Passion fruit is not a common household item that is found in the average refrigerator. You can usually find them in the refrigerators of health nuts and those who are trying to eat healthier.
In this case, putting passion fruit in your refrigerator and eating it before bed can help you fall asleep faster. Passion fruit contains somniferum, which has sleep-inducing properties.
#16 Miso Soup
I can honestly say that this is a soup that I have never heard of.
Apparently, this soup is made from fermented soybeans. It is also a very popular dish in Japan. So, why is it a bedtime snack? Well, it’s because it contains certain types of amino acids that help produce melatonin.
Walnuts are another snack that I love to eat on the go. I can pop open a bag and eat them on the road, while I am out walking, or in front of the television watching the game.
Walnuts are also a very popular sleep aid. This is because they are high in tryptophan.
Tryptophan is an amino acid that is a precursor to serotonin and melatonin, which help aid sleep.
Yeah, we have all been on some pretty boring dates that make us want to fall asleep in our dinner. Oh, we aren’t talking about those kind of dates?
Dates, the fruit, have two properties that help sleep. They contain tryptophan and they also contain fast-acting carbohydrates. These carbohydrates help turn the tryptophan into melatonin at a quicker rate.
If the melatonin is produced quicker, it is then likely that you will fall asleep quicker and stay asleep.
Hummus is essentially pureed chickpeas with flavoring added. I love to eat them with pita chips and carrots.
The reason it is good for a bedtime snack is because it is high in tryptophan, which helps with serotonin and melatonin production. The more of this you produce, the faster you will doze off into dreamland.
Eggs are a great breakfast food. Bacon and eggs, omelets, scrambled eggs, egg sandwiches, so much egg! So, why would an egg be good for a bedtime snack if so many people usually eat it for breakfast?
Eggs are a good source of serotonin, which we all know helps promote good sleep quality.
I literally just got done drinking a strawberry milkshake and it was absolutely delicious.
Eating strawberries before bedtime can help you fall asleep quicker because they contain many vitamins and minerals that act as sleep-aids. The main sleep-aid vitamin ingredient is vitamin C. As we know, vitamin C helps with serotonin production.
Fish is another great bedtime snack. Why, you ask? Well, fish contains Vitamin B, which helps your body convert energy into glucose, ensures the correct function of your nervous system, and metabolizes fats and proteins.
Vitamin B also helps convert tryptophan to serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate sleep patterns. So, if you want a good night sleep, eat some salmon.
#23 Keep The Seeds
Next time you carve a pumpkin, don’t throw away those seeds. Seeds such as watermelon, pumpkin, sunflower, flax, and sesame seeds are high in serotonin.
The serotonin will tell your brain that it is time to sleep and you will find yourself drifting off into dreamland after eating some of these seeds.
You know what’s good? Roasted pumpkin seeds with a little bit of salt and pepper. That’s my favorite way to prepare them. Leave off the salt and pepper if you are eating them for bed though.
Maybe this is why I fall asleep during movies, or maybe it is because the movie is just really boring. Either way, popcorn contains tryptophan. This is why you may feel sleepy after eating a big bowl of popcorn.
If you are eating it purely for the sleep, leave out the butter and oil.
#25 Bell Peppers
One of the more tasty vegetables, bell peppers. I love to munch on these before bed. Why, you ask? Well, bell peppers are a good source of vitamin C, and by now, we all know how that helps us drift off.
They are also good for the immune system.
#26 Whole Grains
Whole grains are great for your body and they also offer a wonderful source of magnesium. If your magnesium levels are too low, it can lead to you being tense and achy. If you are tense and your body aches, how are you going to sleep?
Eat some whole grain snacks before bed to boost your magnesium levels. This will help you sleep better. This may even help if you have a problem with sleep apnea.
As stated earlier, hummus is ground up chickpeas and hummus is great for sleep. So, why wouldn’t plain chickpeas be as well?
Chickpeas alone are an excellent source of vitamin B6. So eating some chickpeas would be equal to eating fish and have the same effects for sleep.
#28 Jasmine Rice
Jasmine rice is delicious. It has a nice flavor to it and it helps me fall asleep. Why? Because studies have shown that its high glycemic index has sleep inhibiting properties. Pretty neat, right?
So, next time you want to go to snooze but seem to be suffering from sleep deprivation, cook up some jasmine rice.
Broccoli, the tree look-alike. Personally, I love broccoli, raw and cooked. Broccoli is also full of nutrients, including magnesium.
As I said above, magnesium helps relieve a stressed body. When you are achy, you can’t sleep. So, next time you need to sleep but you ache, eat some broccoli.
#30 Potatoe, Potato
Potatoes are tasty no matter how you cook them. I like mine mashed with a little garlic and some butter. If you want to use a potato for a sleep trigger, go right ahead.
Potatoes are high in glycemia. Foods that are rich in glycemia help you fall asleep faster.
If you are or know someone who is diabetic, then you may have seen them pop a few pretzels when they feel like their blood sugar is dipping. They do this for the same reason we would do it if we wanted to sleep.
Pretzels give off a natural spike in your blood sugar and this helps the tryptophan convert to serotonin and melatonin. These two things combined have the power to make you sleepy.
If you don’t know what saffron is, it is a spice that comes from a crocus sativus plant flower. When studies on mice, a water based extract was used successfully to reduce anxiety and improve sleep.
So, if you were to use this spice in whatever you wanted, it would make you sleep and calm your anxiety.
Oatmeal is a delicious breakfast food found in almost all pantries. So, why would a breakfast food be used for a sleep aid?
Well, when we eat it for breakfast, we eat it for the nutrients. When we want to eat it as a bedtime snack, it is because it is high in melatonin and it helps the tryptophan convert quickly.
This is something that I have never heard of. Apparently, one cup of soybeans eaten as edamame, contains 122% of our recommended value of tryptophan.
So, if we were to prepare our soybeans as this, edamame, we can find ourselves sleeping peacefully, quicker.
#35 Sweet Potatoes
And here we see the potatoes again. Sweet potatoes are high in potassium, which is great for calming the nerves and relaxing the muscles. If your nerves are calm and your muscles are relaxed, you are most likely going to fall asleep at a faster rate.
Pineapple has been known to help with many health issues. A lot of singers use it to help keep their throat healthy and moist.
Pineapple can be used as a sleep aid when eaten as a bedtime snack because it is loaded with melatonin.
Foods To Avoid Before Bedtime
Yup, with all those positive snacks before bed, there are a few negatives to go with it. There are some foods that have been suggested to not ingest before bed because they will actually keep you awake or uncomfortable during the night while you are trying to get some shuteye.
#1 Certain Fruit Or Fruit Juices
High-sugar fruits are things that you should avoid before bed. Things such as watermelon and bananas can trigger an upset stomach. No one wants to go to bed with an angry stomach.
Fruit juices high in sugar can cause gas, pain, bloating, and diarrhea. I always try to avoid sugary stuff before bed. It does seem to give me an upset stomach.
#2 Tea, But Only Certain Kinds
Teas that contain herbs are fine to drink before bed, but tea that are more meant for breakfast should be avoided. These teas are English breakfast, Earl Gray, Chai, some green teas, and others similar to them.
The reason for this is because they contain caffeine which can disrupt the process of dozing off.
#3 This Is Sad, But Steak + Fries
Some nights, I want to gnaw on a steak before bed, but I can’t. The reason for this is because meats, cheese, and greasy fast foods are slowly digested which can lead to an uncomfortable fullness.
It can also cause gastric reflux and heartburn. I definitely don’t like going to bed with heartburn.
I know a lot of people who keep a bottle of water next to their bed for many reasons. I frequently wake up with dry mouth, so the water helps me a little. But I try not to drink too much because it can lead to more bathroom breaks in the middle of the night.
The more bathroom breaks you have, the less time you have to sleep. It is suggested that you take your last drink 60-90 minutes before bedtime.
#5 Dessert, No! Not The Dessert!
Here’s the good news, you don’t have to completely cut out desserts, you just should eat them at least 3 hours before bedtime.
Sweets like candy, cookies, cakes and such can disrupt sleep because they trick the mind into thinking it is time to be active. When you eat sweets, your blood sugar rises and then your body gets ready for activity instead of sleep.
I know this is upsetting. You may be thinking back to the time when you had a little too much tequila, but ended up falling right to sleep when you got home. Yes, this did happen, but it wasn’t the kind of sleep you are supposed to get.
Alcohol reduces REM sleep, so if you do happen to fall asleep, it won’t actually help you. The best thing to do is to avoid alcohol 2 hours before bedtime.
Final Food For Thought
Some of you may be upset at me for telling you that some of your favorite foods are not good to eat before bedtime. That’s okay, at least I tried. Isn’t it nice knowing what foods will help you sleep better though? A lot of these foods may not be your top pick for a bedtime snack, but they are really healthy and can increase your sleep quality more than you may think.
If you enjoyed this article, which I hope you did, please feel free to comment or share it with everyone you know. I mean, c’mon, who doesn’t enjoy a good read about food and sleep?