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These 10 Foods Will Help You Get a Better Night's Sleep

These 10 Foods Will Help You Get a Better Night's Sleep

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Cook with these ingredients to fall asleep and stay asleep

Sleep more restfully at night by noshing on a combination of tryptophan-rich foods and carbohydrates.

There are a number of factors that contribute to a truly restful night's sleep. Getting more exercise, practicing mediation, taking non-habit-forming sleeps aids, and making environmental improvements (like buying a new pillow, making your bedroom light-tight, or listening to peaceful "sleep" sounds) can all be effective when it comes to falling asleep and staying asleep. One of the simpler (yet equally as effective) solutions to your sleep problems is to examine what you eat; your diet can play a significant role in your ability to achieve a restful and restorative night's sleep.

Click here to see the 10 Foods That Will Help You Get a Better Night's Sleep (Slideshow)

We all know that there are certain foods that make it difficult to sleep (anything that enhances energy or alertness or that causes uncomfortable digestion can make it difficult to nod off), but there are also a number of foods that can enhance your body's ability to unwind and slip into sleep mode. Cooking with these healthy and delicious ingredients — especially at dinnertime — can help you score a better night's sleep.

One of the main ways you can make sure to sleep more soundly is to eat foods high in tryptophan, an amino acid that encourages your body to produce serotonin (a chemical in the brain that can create a feeling of relaxation). Serotonin in turn makes melatonin, a hormone that controls your sleep cycles. Many nuts, seeds, meats, and legumes are rich in tryptophan.

Tryptophan alone isn’t enough to help you sleep; it’s actually a combination of tryptophan-rich foods and carbohydrates that can boost serotonin levels. Adding carbohydrates helps the tryptophan compete with other amino acids in the body, allowing it to more readily enter the brain (where it can assist in the production of serotonin). Try making a late-night snack like a slice of bread with nut butter or a dinner like seared ahi tuna with brown rice.

If you’re in need of a good night’s sleep, try cooking with some of these delicious ingredients.

According to a study published in The Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, magnesium deficiency makes it difficult to stay asleep. Almonds are a good source of magnesium, so snack on a few before bed or sprinkle them on salads or a stir-fry at dinner if you’re having trouble sleeping.

Cook with bananas for a vitamin B6 boost; this vitamin can also help your body produce more melatonin, the “sleep hormone”. Though we often think of bananas as an ingredient for baking or dessert, they’re also delicious in sweet and savory main dishes like salads.

Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.

10 Foods That Could Help You Fall Asleep Faster

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Sleep is so important for college students, yet it's so underrated. Even when you try to go to bed at a reasonable hour, your mind suddenly has a million thoughts that it wants to go through and it can be hard to actually fall asleep. Have no worries though, because one solution to this problem comes down to what you eat before you sleep. You probably already know that having caffeine late at night can keep you awake, and that sometimes a glass of wine (or two, or three) can make you sleepy, but there are actually some foods that can help you fall asleep faster.

Sweet, portable, inexpensive and loved by just about everyone—what’s not to like about bananas? Even better, they pack a hefty punch of magnesium and potassium two minerals that help relax muscles and promote sleep. Plus, bananas are a good source of tryptophan. Enjoy a small banana an hour or two before bedtime.

Steven Errico/Getty Images

A glass of warm milk has always been a bedtime staple, and for good reason. It’s loaded with calcium, which not only helps your muscles relax it also regulates your body’s production of melatonin. Plus, milk contains the amino acid tryptophan, which is the precursor to serotonin, a hormone that promotes relaxation and a feeling of calm. Enjoy a glass of milk—it’s extra soothing when it’s warm—before bedtime, or drink a glass if you wake up during the night.

Here are my top 10 foods that help you sleep

1. Almonds + Cashews

These go-to nuts contain magnesium, a mineral which acts like a natural sedative. Even a small deficiency in magnesium can lead to trouble in the sleep department.

Try 1 slice of ezekiel toast with 2 teaspoons of almond or cashew butter with a sprinkle of cinnamon as an afternoon snack.

2. Apricots

Not only pretty (and my favorite color!) and deliciously tangy-tart, they’re chock full of vitamin C which can help relieve stress. Vitamin C-rich foods have been shown to help your body recover faster from stress, and fewer rattled nerves may mean a mellower slumber.

Try 2 dried apricots (sans sugar and sulfur) cut up and added to your afternoon Greek yogurt. Be mindful of the higher calorie count of dried and go for fresh if you have trouble controlling portions.

3. Asparagus

These green stalks are famous for helping us cleanse but they are also high in folate. Folate is essential for a healthy cardiovascular system and has been linked to anxiety and mood regulation , both which can affect our slumber.

Drizzle a little avocado oil over a few stalks, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper, and pop in the oven at 400°F for about 15 min. Top with a drop of balsamic vinegar. YUM.

4. Bananas

Sweet and creamy, this fruit is a source of melatonin , a sleep hormone, as well as potassium, which helps normalize heartbeat.

Try banana “ice cream” (pureed frozen bananas) topped with 1 tablespoon chopped peanuts for a perfect night time sweet fix.

5. Chamomile Tea

Made from a tiny European flower in the daisy family, this tea, with its soothing mild flavor, is an age-old remedy for soothing yourself to sleep. Some health experts insist it can be more effective than sleep medications.

Get in the habit of sipping slowly a cuppa chamomile nightly with a drop of steamed almond milk.

6. Cheese

Particularly swiss or cheddar, cheese is a good source of tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that encourages the release of melatonin. The hormone melatonin helps to decrease the time it takes to fall asleep, increases sleepiness and may also increase the amount of time you spend asleep.

An anytime snack is 1 ounce of cheddar and apple slices.

7. Nutmeg

The smell screams “apple pie,” but researchers have shown that nutmeg improves blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and it’s also earned a reputation as a home remedy for menstrual cramps and anxiety.

Sprinkle nutmeg on your morning oatmeal or afternoon apple.

8. Popcorn

Carbohydrates make tryptophan, an amino acid important for sleep, more available to the brain. Popcorn is a whole grain and packed with fiber, so you digest these carbs more steadily, making it a perfect night time snack.

Air pop this movie time fave and sprinkle a little Parmesan cheese, cinnamon or sea salt and pepper for amped up flavor in your popcorn bowl.

9. Tart Cherries

Considered a symbol of immortality in ancient China, this fruit is loaded with anthocyanins, an important type of antioxidant that lowers inflammation, as well as cholesterol and triglyceride levels. But they’re sleeping beauties, too, since cherries are a natural source of melatonin.

Mix 1 tablespoon dried tart cherries with 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds to use as an oatmeal topper or anytime snack.

10. Salmon

Scientists are also studying the effects of omega-3 supplementation on mood because these wonderful fatty acids are the building blocks of the brain. There is also evidence that omega-3 fatty acids can fight depression, improve sleep and boost libido.

Salmon is super versatile and can be enjoyed any time of day. Go cured or raw and enjoy a lox breakfast or sashimi lunch, or try it dehydrated as turkey jerky for an on-the-go snack, or pop it in the oven with some lemon and dill for a quick and healthy dinner.

So there you have it: 10 foods that help you sleep better, which gives you energy to work out the next day, motivates you to eat healthier and stay hydrated, helps you stress less and nurture yourself, and helps you love more and live consciously. And that, my friends, is living your most Nutritious Life.

These 10 Foods Will Help You Get a Better Night's Sleep - Recipes

If you find yourself tossing and turning at night, you may consider changing your diet. These foods are the best to help you fall asleep and stay asleep through the night.

Contain tryptophan, an amino acid that turns to serotonin and melatonin in the brain.

The neurotransmitter serotonin helps regulate the body's sleep cycle, while the chemical melatonin helps control the body's internal clock

Are rich in vitamin B6, which helps your body produce serotonin.

This snack is packed with protein and magnesium, which provides muscle relaxation and promotes sleep.

Contains lactucarium, which works like a mild sedative to help relax the brain and ease you into a quick slumber.

Are naturally full of melatonin -- but make sure they are the tart kind!

This food is high in calcium and helps the body relax.

Melatonin levels in the body can decrease with age. This fruit can raise its levels over 200 percent.

Next time you're having a restless week, consider adding these foods to your shopping list.

Fatty Fish

Fish such as tuna, salmon, trout, and mackerel are considered “fatty fish”. These fish are a great source of high vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to reduce inflammation and protect against heart disease.

Incorporating fatty fish into your dinner recipes can promote better sleep. Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D increase serotonin production. Serotonin promotes the production of melatonin, which readies your body to hit the hay.

Chamomile Tea with Honey

This one may not be too surprising. Tea helps you sleep, who knew! But why? Chamomile tea is known for helping you relax, and thus doze off with less hassle—and adding a spoonful of honey helps too.

Honey ups your insulin, which in turn aids tryptophan and results in better sleep. Be careful not to add too much to mess with your blood sugar levels too much, especially if you're diabetic.

Sleep-Promoting Foods Rich in Melatonin:


Bananas, at 100 calories, are rich in melatonin and muscle relaxers, both qualities make them ideal sleepy snacks to eat about two hours before bed.

Cantaloupe Melon

At just 50 calories, a cup of diced cantaloupe provides almost 100% of the daily requirement for vitamins A and C. That antioxidant boost, just an hour before bed, can help you sleep better.


Half a cup of fresh cherries, at just 45 calories, rapidly boosts your melatonin levels to deliver a better night’s sleep. Unfortunately fresh cherries have a very short season leaving many sleep seekers dependent on cherry juice. Unless you can find an unsweetened variety those additional cherry juice sugars, right before bed, could quickly add pounds (and insulin spikes). Limit yourself to two to four ounces about an hour before bed. Try this chilled sour-cherry soup


The chickpeas and sesame seeds used to make hummus are bursting with the folates and other B vitamins used to produce melatonin. You’ll want to eat this on whole grain pitas about three hours before bed to allow time for digestion. Delicious though it is two tablespoons and one slice of toast will give you 100 calories and should be enough to help you sleep.

A single kiwi, at 45 calories, provides over 100% of your daily recommended vitamin C, about twice as much as an orange. That’s an antioxidant boost that will help you sleep.


Half a cup of pineapple comes in at just 40 calories and, although it’s a little high on sugars, it’s an abundant source of melatonin boosters.


You may know it as Nori – a wrap for sushi. Seaweed is chock-a-block full of melatonin, and at just 10 calories per sheet, delivers it virtually calorie free!


Whether they’re fresh or frozen, half a cup of raspberries at 30 calories provides just as much melatonin as cherries – and, unlike cherries they tend to be available most of the year.


These are a great source of melatonin but at almost 200 calories per ounce you may want to limit just how many you much on. Seven to eight halves should be enough to boost your melatonin and get you a better night’s sleep.

Whole grains

Eaten as cereal, or toast dusted with cinnamon, whole grains are a rich source of melatonin. Eaten an hour or so before bed a slice of cinnamon toast, at 100 calories, can help you settle into a deep, long, refreshing sleep. With criteria including low sugar content and the use of natural ingredients, Kitchenistic offers this list of best cereals.

1. Almonds

According to registered dietitian Chelsea Elkin, magnesium-rich almonds are a great snack to help with sleep. "One ounce of almonds contains 80 milligrams of magnesium, or about 20 percent of your daily value, and research shows that magnesium helps to support sleep and muscle relaxation," says Elkin. "I like to have a handful of almonds before bed with a cup of chamomile tea, which also promotes drowsiness." Not a fan of raw, unsalted almonds? Elkin suggests spreading almond butter on a rice cake or topping a sliced banana with almond butter for a sleep-inducing pre-bedtime snack.

Almond Butter and Finger Bananas on Fruit Bread

10 Foods That'll Put You to Sleep Faster Than You Can Say "Midnight Snack"

If you've been having trouble getting in those REM cycles, the solution may be a simple diet fix. Adding more magnesium or melatonin-packed ingredients like walnuts and oats to your meals, for starters, could help make you tired the all natural way. Here's what to nosh on to get dreaming sooner.

Nuts have a high concentration of melatonin, the hormone that "improves the body&rsquos circadian rhythm (your internal clock), optimizing wakefulness during the day and sleepiness at night, says Michelle Dudash RDN, author of Clean Eating for Busy Families. "Eating foods rich in this hormone directly increases the melatonin content in your blood, helping you relax," she adds. Melatonin-rich foods (like cherries, turkey, and oats) should be consumed two hours before bedtime for optimal effect.

"Foods rich in healthy fats like olives, nuts, and avocados are great nighttime snacks that can keep you feeling fuller longer and also help to stabilize blood sugar levels," says Dr. Josh Axe DNM, DC, CNS, member of The Vitamin Shoppe Wellness Council. "Consuming healthy fats before bed can make it less likely your sleep is disrupted by hunger pains or a drop in blood sugar."

Like olives, salmon is also high in fat which helps to "promote a more restful sleep," says Axe. It also contains melatonin and tryptophan, an amino acid which doubles as a sleep aid. "The tryptophan will send a signal to your body to move into a calmer state," he explains.

Popcorn is a complex carb which helps to "boost serotonin, a hormone that helps you feel calm and sleepy," Dudash says. Just make sure if you're eating any complex carbs before bed, Dudash recommends sticking to a small portion so your digestive system isn't backed up&mdashand you're not trying to fall asleep with a lot of food in your stomach.

"Sunflower seeds contain 7 grams of complex carbs. They also contain 7 grams of protein, and are an excellent source of magnesium, which also plays a role in sleep quality," Dudash says.

Axe adds: "Magnesium is often considered the 'relaxation mineral.' It not only helps your body to generally relax, but it can also prevent muscle cramps and headaches that may keep you up at night." Besides sunflower seeds, to get your magnesium fix, you can also try green leafy veggies.

Thanks to melatonin, cherries "help induce sleepiness at night and wakefulness during the day," Dudash says. If you're looking to get the highest dose of melatonin from cherries, tart ones are your best bet, she adds. Sorry, but you'll have to skip the Shirley Temple.

"Eating oats can help regulate the sleep cycle because they're high in melatonin, tryptophan, and complex carbs, Dudash says.

Chicken contains tryptophan which "the body has to get through food because it doesn't make itself," Dudash says. To get detailed, he explains: "Dietary tryptophan ultimately gets synthesized into serotonin, which, again, is the chemical that makes you feel relaxed."

As if you needed an excuse to sip a piña colada, coconuts also have high magnesium levels, so. bottom's up!

Good old fashioned guac can help you get more R&R because. you guessed it, avocados contain healthy fats and magnesium, says Axe. Cue the avocado toast Instagrams.

Bedtime can be the bane of a parent's existence. Between restlessness and complaints that your kiddo is "just not tired", getting kids to sleep can be a challenge.

But getting quality sleep is one of the most important things that children can do for their health and well-being. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that regular sleep deprivation can lead to irritability, difficulty concentrating, hypertension, obesity, headaches, and depression. Conversely, children who get enough sleep have a healthier immune system, and better school performance, behavior, memory, and mental health. Bottom line — good sleep can do wonders for your kids.

In conjunction with classic sleep-supporting tips like avoiding screens before bedtime and keeping the bedroom cool, eating the right foods may give your little ones the sleep-inducing boost that they need. While these foods are not going to be the magic bullet that every parent hopes for, including them into your child's diet certainly won't hurt anything. Of course, if you suspect a true sleep disorder, you should discuss this with your family pediatrician.

Here are nine foods that may help your kiddo get some quality and restful sleep.