The 25 Best Foods for a Good Night's Sleep from The 25 Best Foods for a Good Night's Sleep

The 25 Best Foods for a Good Night's Sleep

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The 25 Best Foods for a Good Night's Sleep

If you’re tired of counting sheep and staring at the ceiling when trying to turn in for the night, a solution may be as simple as an after-dinner snack. Minerals, calcium and magnesium especially, are the key ingredients people should look for in their last meal before bed, Dr. Daryl Gioffre, Founder of Alkamind and celebrity nutritionist, says. They are important because they help make melatonin and serotonin, both of which are hormones that regulate various functions such as sleep, appetite and mood.

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Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a great source of complex carbohydrates that promote better sleep. They have plenty of potassium, a muscle-relaxant. A study shows a genetic link between potassium and slow-wave sleep. A gene responsible for regulating the flow of potassium is also the gene that is required for slow-wave sleep, the deepest phase of the sleep cycle.

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Fortified Cereal

This kind of cereal has a lot of vitamin B6, which is needed for the production of melatonin, Sadie Wells, RD, LDN, CPT, says. The carbs in these kinds of cereals are the healthy ones –complex, unprocessed and containing fiber. Studies show that complex carbs help people fall asleep easier because they break down slowly, preventing blood sugar spikes and keeping serotonin levels consistent for a longer period of time.

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Oats

One bowl of oatmeal has enough magnesium, calcium, potassium, and other minerals that are all referred to as nap-promoting. Just don’t add anything sweet because too much sugar will sabotage your sleep. “The body doesn’t discriminate against sugar,” Dr. Gioffre says. “Sugar is sugar in all forms.” Fluctuations in insulin levels will prevent you from falling or staying asleep.

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Lentils

Lentils are loaded with magnesium, a muscle relaxant that improves sleep quality, Wells says. These legumes also contain plenty of potassium — another mineral that relaxes muscles — and lentils that are packed with fiber help the digestive system relax.

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Cottage Cheese

The protein can provide the tryptophan, an amino acid that’s needed for melatonin production. A small piece of fruit can help you fall asleep as well. It can help the tryptophan pass your blood-brain barrier. Also, research from Purdue University has shown that overweight and obese adults who are losing weight with a high-protein diet are more likely to sleep better.

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Bananas

Bananas have a lot of magnesium and potassium, which help the muscles relax. Supplementation of magnesium appears to improve subjective measures of insomnia, according to a study, such as ISI (insomnia severity index) score, sleep efficiency, sleep time, and sleep onset latency (early morning awakening). The superfood is also rich in vitamin B6, which promotes the production of melatonin, and tryptophan, both linked to sleep quality.

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Almonds and Walnuts

Loaded with tryptophan, walnuts are also proven to be a natural source of serotonin and melatonin. Almonds are rich in the muscle relaxant magnesium, which is important for keeping regular sleep patterns. Just a handful an hour before bed will do the trick. Studies have shown that when the body is too low on magnesium, it will take longer to fall asleep.

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Watermelon

Lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, is associated with good sleep. It is found in grapefruit, watermelons, tomatoes, and papaya. A 2013 study found very short sleepers had consumed less lycopene than 7–8-hour sleepers.

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Pumpkin Seeds

Raw pumpkin seeds are a high-alkaline food that is rich with minerals, Dr. Gioffre says. Minerals are what the body needs to neutralize the acids in it, he adds. Not having enough of them will certainly affect sleep as the body will leach calcium from the bones to neutralize them, resulting in you having to wake up many times at night to go to the bathroom.

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Jasmine Rice

A 2007 study suggests that eating Jasmine rice about four hours before bed will reduce the time you take to fall asleep by half. This is because high-glycemic-index meals – foods the body digests slowly and progressively releasing glucose into the blood – may increase the production of tryptophan, an amino acid that makes you sleepy.

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Crackers and Cheese

Gram for gram, cheddar cheese contains more tryptophan than turkey. The protein in cheese provides sleep-inducing tryptophan. The carbs in crackers may help you fall asleep faster because they stimulate the release of insulin, which in turn triggers the uptake of most amino acids from the blood into the muscles except for tryptophan, according to LiveScience.

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Leafy Greens

Green leafy veggies are a good source of calcium, which encourages better sleep because they help the brain produce tryptophan to make melatonin. “You always want to have a side salad at dinner,” Dr. Gioffre says. Some of your best options are kale, spinach and watercress. “In a recent study watercress dethroned kale in terms of nutritional powers.”

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Hummus

Hummus is made from chickpeas, which are crucial for regular sleep patterns. They are a good source of vitamin B6 and tryptophan, Dr. Gioffre says. Some call chickpeas the “miracle legume” because they are also filling, resulting in less eating and therefore maintaining your weight. If you don’t like hummus, try roasted chickpeas or chickpeas avocado salad.

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Herbal Teas

Herbal teas relax you and can make you sleepy. Green tea, for example, contains theanine, an amino acid that encourages sleep. Many people prefer valerian or chamomile tea at night. “Just make sure it’s decaf,” Well says. “Just keep it decaf.” Valerian is a common ingredient in products promoted as mild sedatives and sleep aids for nervous tension and insomnia.

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Kiwi

One medium kiwifruit has more than ½ of the potassium than one banana has to offer. A 2011 study connected kiwi to better sleep both in quality and quantity in people who had trouble staying asleep. One reason may be because the antioxidants in the fruit may regulate neurotransmitters that control slumber. People fell asleep quicker and slept more soundly.

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Fish

Salmon, halibut or tuna for dinner can really help, Wells says. They have a lot of vitamin B6, which is what the pineal gland needs to produce melatonin, “the sleep hormone,” she adds. Fish are rich in tryptophan, which naturally produces serotonin and melatonin, hormones responsible for normal sleep. Fish is a healthy fat, which slows digestion down and keeps you fuller for longer, Wells adds. “Feeling hungry can lead to sleep disturbances.”

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Cherries

Cherries are a good source of vitamin B6, Wells says. A 2010 study found people who drank cherry juice fell asleep faster and for longer. Participants also reported improvements in their insomnia symptoms. Drink a glass or have a cup of cherries an hour before bedtime. You can even opt for dried cherries if the fresh fruit is out of season.

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Milk

Dairy products are high in calcium, the body’s most abundant mineral, which helps the body use tryptophan to produce serotonin, Wells says. Some studies have indicated that people who lack calcium have problems falling and staying asleep. Milk also contains tryptophan. That’s why it has a sedative effect and people tend to fall asleep faster. Researchers have found that calcium levels in the body are higher during the deepest phases of sleep.

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Turkey

Turkey is loaded with tryptophan, the amino acid that brings on sleepiness, Wells says. Tryptophan is also needed for the body to produce serotonin, which is then used to make melatonin. But turkey alone won’t make a big difference as you would basically have to overeat. Consuming it with healthy carbs will have a more positive effect.

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Pineapples

Research has shown pineapples boost the production of melatonin like few other foods. People who ate the fruit had 266 percent higher levels of melatonin than others.

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Strawberries

Strawberries have lots of vitamin B6, which is the main nutrient the body needs to make melatonin, Dr. Gioffre says.

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Hardboiled Eggs

Two hardboiled eggs contain about 130 calories and 12 grams of complete protein, which means they have all nine essential amino acids that your body can’t make itself. Eggs are a good source of tryptophan as well as vitamin B12, another restful sleep promoter because it causes an increase in production and an earlier release of melatonin.

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Whole Grains

Whole grains are rich sources of magnesium, which help the muscles relax, according to a study. The mineral, as well as calcium, has a calming effect on the body, Wells adds.

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Almond Butter

Almond butter is rich in magnesium, Dr. Gioffre says. “A recent study has shown that people who have low levels of magnesium have more problems falling and staying asleep,” he adds.

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Monk Fruit

The best substitutes for all unhealthy sweeteners are organic stevia, and Lo Han, otherwise known as monk fruit, Dr. Gioffre says. “It has a zero glycemic index which means it will have no effect on your insulin levels, and have sweetening properties more than sugar.”

The 25 Best Foods for a Good Night's Sleep