Q

Healthy Sleeping

What are some foods that can help me sleep better?

A Answers (7)

  • Studies show that warm milk, decaffeinated teas and tart juice can induce sleep. Avoid heavy meals or caffeinated foods before bedtime.
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  • Here are five foods to help you sleep better:
    • Milk: Dairy milk and fortified nut milks, like almond milk, are rich in calcium, a key mineral that helps people achieve and remain in their deepest levels of sleep. Have a glass of warm milk before bedtime or consider regularly adding calcium to your diet to help you sleep more soundly throughout the night.
    • Pistachios: Why go nuts for pistachios before bed? Because these tasty green nuggets are loaded with vitamin B6 and contain unsaturated fat. Both improve serotonin levels, an important regulator of the sleep-wake cycle.
    • Bananas: The potassium and magnesium in bananas naturally help muscles relax. The fruit also contains L-tryptophan, an essential amino acid that aids the body in producing serotonin, which helps you fall into deep REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
    • Cherries: Researchers found that drinking tart cherry juice helped improve sleep duration (study participants slept an average of 84 more minutes per night). This is due to the natural presence of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep cycles. Sip on a glass of the juice or munch on a bowl of cherries after dinner to help you fall–and stay–asleep.
    • Hummus: Garbanzo beans (chickpeas), the main ingredient in hummus, are rich in several nutrients that are important in regulating sleep cycles, including folate, vitamin B6 and L-tryptophan. Spread some hummus on a piece of toast or some crackers before bed for a yummy, sleep-promoting snack. And you thought you needed another reason to love hummus?
    Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.
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  • A , Psychology, answered
    Magnesium is a mineral that functions to relax nerves and muscles and also promotes healthy circulation. Deficiencies of magnesium have been associated with several sleep disorders. Foods high in magnesium are some of the most sleep-friendly foods around.

    Bananas are a great source of magnesium. So are many other nutrient-rich, waist-friendly foods, including:
    • Fruits: in addition to bananas, avocados, berries and melons
    • Leafy greens: spinach and Swiss chard
    • Nuts and seeds: including cashews, almonds, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and nut or seed butters 
    • Beans: black beans, tofu, soybeans
    • Whole grains: brown rice, millet, wheat and oat bran
    Potassium is another key mineral in the body that helps to relax muscles and nerves, as well as to promote healthy circulation and digestion. Research has shown a possible genetic link between potassium and slow-wave sleep: a study at the University of Wisconsin found that a gene in fruit flies that is responsible for regulating the flow of potassium is also the gene that allows for slow-wave sleep. Slow-wave sleep, also known as delta sleep, is the deepest phase of our sleep cycle, the time when we get our most restorative sleep.
     
    Bananas win again, as a great source of potassium as well as magnesium. Other healthy foods that contain high levels of potassium are:
    • Vegetables: leafy greens, mushrooms, tomatoes and cauliflower
    • Beans: including lima, soybeans, lentils, pinto and kidney beans
    • Fish: salmon, cod, and flounder
    • Citrus: especially in juice form, in sources like orange juice
    Calcium is a mineral that plays a direct role in the production of melatonin, the “sleep hormone” that helps to maintain the body’s 24-hour sleep-wake cycle. Melatonin levels rise naturally during the night, helping promote sleep, and are suppressed during the day, allowing us to be alert and wakeful. Calcium, like magnesium and potassium, is also a natural relaxant in the body.
     
    Dairy products are rich in calcium, and can be a good choice for a sleep-friendly evening snack. That glass of milk your mom had you drink before bed? Turns out, mom was right. There are other non-dairy foods that are also packed with calcium. If you’re not a fan of yogurt, milk or cheese, try these options for bringing more sleep-promoting calcium into your diet:
    • Dark leafy greens: turnip greens, collards, spinach, mustard greens, kale
    • Nuts and seeds: Brazil nuts, almonds, sesame seeds
    • Soy: tofu, soymilk
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  • A answered
    Trip up your wakefulness and doze off with these handy bedtime snacks (stay within 200 calories and eat about an hour before bedtime):
    • The classic PB&J (go easy on the PB, and try it on a rice cake); top off with a glass of low-fat or skim milk.
    • A banana with one teaspoon of nut butter of your choice.
    • A small bowl of whole grain cereal with low-fat or skim milk.
    • Fruit and cottage cheese.
    • Whole wheat crackers and goat cheese.
    • A homemade oatmeal raisin cookie with low-fat or skim milk.
    From The Mind-Beauty Connection: 9 Days to Less Stress, Gorgeous Skin, and a Whole New You by Amy Wechsler.
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  • A , Dermatology, answered
    Before bedtime, have a light high-carb snack (bread, cereal, or pasta). Serotonin is a mood-elevating brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that often results in a calming effect and sounder sleep. Eating foods high in complex carbohydrates can raise levels of serotonin in the body. Also, try eating foods rich in B vitamins such as whole grains, peanuts, bananas, and sunflower seeds, which help to counteract the effects of stress. 
  • A , Neurology, answered
    You can take advantage of the sleep-inducing benefits of milk and carbohydrates. Tryptophan and serotonin are important brain chemicals for sleep. Milk contains the protein tryptophan, which is why a glass of milk before bed can help with sleep. Warming the milk makes more tryptophan available to the brain. Other foods are also rich in these compounds. Part of the reason you feel so sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner is because turkey is also rich in tryptophan. So a glass of milk and turkey sandwich is a great evening snack when leftover turkey is around. Carbohydrates also change our levels of serotonin, making them a good bed time snack.
  • A , Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered
    Cheese and 100% whole grain crackers are your best bedtime-snack bet. The whole grains help produce serotonin. Cheese, like other dairy products, contains tryptophan. Together, they make for a winning combination.
This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.
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