Whether you have trouble falling asleep, can’t stay asleep, or just can’t seem to turn it all off and go to bed at a reasonable hour – you’re not alone.
More than 50 million Americans don’t get enough shut-eye despite more and more proven health benefits being studied.
A good night’s sleep helps keep you happy, your brain sharp, your immune system strong, your waistline trim, your skin looking youthful—and lowers your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.
Thankfully, you can stack the sleep deck in your favor with these 10 foods.
Cereal + Skim Milk
While carbohydrates in cereal help you fall asleep, protein-rich milk helps you stay asleep. How? By eating them together, you’ll absorb more of the amino-acid tryptophan (usually associated with that post-Thanksgiving meal slump) than you would if you ate them alone. Plus, milk is chock-full of calcium and magnesium, which helps you produce melatonin — the hormone responsible for sleep regulation. Just stick to one cup of a low-sugar cereal (6 grams of sugar or less per serving) with a half cup of skim milk.
Dried Cherries + Pistachios
Pistachios have a winning sleep-inducing combination of protein, vitamin B6, and magnesium, and research has shown that cherries can help improve melatonin production.
Just don’t exceed the 1-ounce portion of nuts (about 160 calories) and one cup of cherries since anything too high in calories can have the reverse effect of keeping you awake.
A glass of cherry juice could make you fall asleep faster, according to researchers from the Universities of Pennsylvania and Rochester. Cherries, particularly tart cherries, naturally boost levels of melatonin. In the study, subjects who drank cherry juice experienced some improvement in their insomnia symptoms compared to those who drank a placebo beverage.
Chamomile Tea + Graham Cracker With Nut Butter
If you regularly lose sleep because of an upset stomach, chamomile tea can help. Not only is it hydrating, but it’s also full of a relaxation agent that can soothe nerves before bedtime. Try adding two graham crackers with two teaspoons of nut butter or a slice of cheese for an added dose of protein, which will help you fall asleep faster.
Walnuts are a good source of tryptophan, a sleep-enhancing amino acid that helps make serotonin and melatonin, the “body clock” hormone that sets your sleep-wake cycles. Additionally, University of Texas researchers found that walnuts contain their own source of melatonin, which may help you fall asleep faster.
A salad with dinner could speed up your bedtime since lettuce contains lactucarium, which has sedative properties and affects the brain similarly to opium. You can also try this brew from the book Stealth Health: Simmer three to four large lettuce leaves in a cup of water for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, add two sprigs of mint, and sip just before you go to bed.
White rice has a high glycemic index, so eating it will significantly slash the time it takes you to fall asleep, according to an Australian study. Jasmine rice, in particular, brings on shut-eye faster; research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate a meal that included jasmine rice fell asleep faster than when they ate other rice types.
This game meat has nearly twice more tryptophan than turkey breast, meaning you’re much more likely to nod off after eating it, especially with a side of carbohydrates to help the tryptophan reach the brain.
Most fish—and especially salmon, halibut, and tuna—boast vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin (a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness), according to an article published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.
Oatmeal is a natural source of melatonin, a naturally occurring compound, which causes drowsiness.
Pair oats with a vitamin D-rich drink, such as fortified soy beverage or 1% milk, to increase the probability of a restful sleep as vitamin D can increase serotonin in your brain, which helps you sleep.