Try These Sleep-Inducing Foods for More Restful Sleep

May 13, 2019

A person holding pistachios in their palms
Renée Bacher

Can't fall asleep but prefer to avoid medication? How about a snack? These foods for sleep can make you drowsy before bed and keep a grumbling tummy from waking you up in the middle of the night.

Prunes

Prunes are among those good foods for sleep that are packed with nutrients. According to this study on the effects of certain fruits on brain health, prunes contain amino acids, calcium, vitamin A, zinc, vitamin B complex, potassium, vitamin K, magnesium, zinc, selenium and loads of fiber, among other good things. These sweet, chewy treats may also help minimize anxiety for those who have anxiety disorders. And anxiety is no friend to sleep, so it makes sense that prunes can help you nod off.

Pistachios and Almonds

Although nuts can be a heavy food to eat before bedtime, just a small handful of either pistachios or almonds between dinner and bed time can help sleep. Among plant-based foods, nuts contain the highest amounts of the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin, with pistachios coming in highest and almonds coming in second, according to this study

Figs

Whether you eat them fresh or dried, figs are soft, sweet, a little bit crunchy and packed with minerals that can help make you sleepy. According to an article in Good Housekeeping, figs contain iron magnesium, potassium and calcium. In the article, Jaclyn London, nutrition director at the Good Housekeeping Institute says, "These minerals help with blood flow and muscle contraction, which are key for falling asleep."

Oatmeal

Oatmeal may be a great start to the day with a glass of juice and a cup of coffee, but it is also among the best sleep-inducing foods. According to an article in Forbes, oats contain melatonin as well as vitamin B6 which helps reduce stress (and who can fall asleep when they're stressed?). Oatmeal is also a complex carbohydrate that boosts chemicals in the brain, which can bring on the z's.

Cherries

A natural source of melatonin and the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan, tart cherries and tart cherry juice are among the best foods for sleep. According to this article in Prevention, the pigments in tart cherry juice "contain an enzyme that reduces inflammation and decreases the breakdown of tryptophan, letting it go to work longer in your body." Montmorency cherries, a sour cherry grown in Wisconsin, Michigan, Canada and France, are especially high in the compounds that promote sleep. These cherries are light in color.

Juicy Fruits

According to NBC News, dehydration is one of the things that can keep you awake. It's best to drink plenty of water throughout the day, rather than gulping a big glass before bed (which can make you need to use the bathroom in the middle of the night). But juicy fruits like watermelon, cantaloupe, honey dew, apples and grapes are a light, refreshing and easily digestible snack before bed that can ensure you're hydrated.

Remember, just as there are sleep-inducing foods, there are foods that can interrupt sleep, too. According to the Centers for Disease Control, these include caffeine, alcohol and big, fatty meals that are difficult to digest.

To increase your chances of falling asleep and staying asleep, go to bed at the same time each night, create a dark, quiet sanctuary out of your bedroom, and be sure to get some physical activity each day. And ideally, finish eating any sleep-inducing foods an hour before you get horizontal to avoid the indigestion that can come with eating and lying down.

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