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9 of the best foods to have before bed that promote good sleep
Consider having these foods before bed for added benefits.
Elle Holder
06.22.21

You’re feeling verrry sleepy.

Imagine that in a droning voice as someone tries to hypnotize you. You’ve probably seen and heard that on TV.

Did you know that hypnotism isn’t necessary? That there are foods that can make us feel very sleepy, just like there are foods that can keep us awake at night? Maybe you’ve experienced the phenomena of sleeping like the dead after Thanksgiving dinner. There’s a good reason for that!

Let’s talk about the foods that will help you sleep. Maybe we’ll deal with all the foods you should ignore before bed in a different post at a later date. I’ll tell you what the foods are and also get into some detail about why they are beneficial.

There are more, but here is a short list of 9 foods or drinks that can help you get a better night’s sleep.

But a word of caution. As I’m sure you know, what you eat can have a profound effect on the body in general, not just energy levels and the quality of sleep. Often, moderation is the key. In hopes of a good night’s sleep, don’t start binging on foods that could do more harm than good if you eat them in excess.

1. Almonds

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Almonds are incredibly good for you. Regardless of the quality of your sleep, you should try to incorporate about a handful of them into your diet every day. The benefits far outweigh any concerns about their fat content.

And let me point out that I’m talking about raw almonds. Not almonds that have been roasted in salt and a variety of other coatings.

There are several nutrients necessary to healthy bodies that almonds are rich in, and these include magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin E. Not to mention dietary fiber.

But since we’re talking about sleep quality, the ingredient we’re most interested in here is melatonin.

Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate our wake and sleep cycle. However, both magnesium and calcium, which I mentioned above, also play a part in helping us sleep since they help to promote muscle relaxation and ultimately sleep. If you’ve ever tried to sleep when you’re tense, you know it’s not going to happen.

But remember, moderation is necessary. So try a handful, about 22 almonds, before going to bed. See if it helps.

2. Turkey

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Have you heard of the turkey coma? That need for a nap after Thanksgiving dinner?

There is just cause for that.

While poultry is a great choice for protein and a variety of other minerals and vitamins, it also has the amino acid tryptophan that increases the production of melatonin. It is the hormone that helps regulate our wake and sleep cycles.

A combination of protein and melatonin is thought to promote that drowsy feeling many get after eating a big turkey dinner.

So why fight it? Why not find a comfy spot and curl up for a nap?

3. Chamomile Tea

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This is a favorite of mine.

Let’s talk about some of its general health benefits first. And there are quite a few.

Studies have shown that this tea has the ability to boost your immune system, brighten up your skin, and reduce anxiety. That last one works in conjunction with its ability to work as an effective sleep aid.

Chamomile contains an antioxidant called apigenin that helps promote sleep by binding with receptors in your brain.

Try drinking a cup before bed and see if it promotes some drowsiness for you.

4. Kiwi

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You already know fruit is good for you. Are you getting in your required servings a day?

If you are sleep-deprived, why not incorporate kiwi into your late-night snack. It’s healthy and it may help you sleep better.

One study done on those who ate kiwi before bed found they went to sleep 42% faster and had a 5% chance of sleeping right through the night. They also increased their sleep time by 13%.

Those are impressive numbers, so I would say kiwi is worth the chance. And even if it doesn’t work for you, you still have the bonus of its anti-inflammatory properties.

5. Tart Cherry Juice

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If you’re going to drink juice, make it tart cherry juice. It’s probably one of the healthiest you can drink—but it is pretty expensive.

Tart cherries are packed with antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins and flavanols. An 8-ounce glass provides a significant amount of our daily recommended potassium intake. And if you suffer from inflammation, it will probably help you.

Last, but certainly not least, this juice has been studied for its effectiveness in reducing insomnia and promoting sleep. This is thanks to its high concentration of melatonin. In one study, adult insomniacs drank an 8-ounce glass of juice twice a day for 2 weeks. This resulted in the participants getter better sleep and on average, sleeping for 84 minutes longer per night.

6. Fatty fish

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I’m sure you’ve heard how healthy some fish are. Salmon, tuna, mackerel, and trout are all said to be packed with health benefits thanks to their vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids.

What you may not know is that when omega-3s are combined with vitamin D their potential to improve sleep arises thanks to the production of serotonin. This is a hormone that helps to stabilize our moods and enhance sleep.

Who’s up for eating some fish right before bed?

7. Walnuts

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Nuts make it onto our list again.

A lot of people don’t or won’t eat nuts because they are afraid of the fat content. The fact is, as long as you’re not eating too many of them, the health benefits far outweigh these concerns.

For example, walnuts are packed with more than 19 different vitamins and minerals. And they help to add necessary dietary fiber.

As far as working as a sleep aid goes, there is research that claims eating them will improve your sleep quality since they’re another food high in melatonin.

It’s the good fats—omega-3 and linoleic fatty acids—in walnuts that the body converts into DHA, which is said to increase serotonin production.

8. Passionflower tea

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Feeling anxious? Frankly, who isn’t dealing with some level of anxiety these days?

This is where passionflower tea comes in. It’s rich in antioxidants, particularly apigenin which is said to produce a calming effect as it binds to receptors in the brain.

Add to that, it is also said to increase gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a brain chemical that counterbalances glutamate, a brain chemical that induces stress.

Drink a cup of this before bed and there’s a good chance you’ll have a better night’s sleep.

9. White rice

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Some research suggests eating foods that are high on the glycemic index (GI) at least an hour before bed can help you sleep better. The flip side is that high GI foods also spike your blood sugar levels, so this might not be for everyone.

But not all high GI foods seem to have the same impact as white rice. One study done on over 1,800 people who ate rice, bread, or noodles during the day reported that those who ate rice slept better and longer.

Conclusion

Not everyone likes to eat before bed. So is there another option?

Yes!

Why not take a look at your sleep environment as well. Your mattress, your pillow, the temperature in your room, plus several other factors all play a part in the quality of your sleep.

The cause of many sleep disruptions is pain. Your neck, back, or shoulders start to ache, and it wakes you up. Before going to the expense of a new mattress, why not try a new pillow? One that properly supports your neck throughout the night?

And if you have no problem at all with late night snacks, try the pillow and the snacks. You might find yourself feeling verrry sleepy.

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By Elle Holder
hi@sbly.com
Elle Holder is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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