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8 Foods that Help Promote Better Sleep

Our sleep patterns vary day-to-day and person-to-person. Some nights, the heaviest of sleepers will lay awake, wide-eyed and restless. If you’re one of the 50 million Americans suffering from sleep disorders, you’re eternally grateful when you finally sleep through the night. Whatever your sleep situation may be, one thing remains true for all: zero people want to lie awake at night anxiously awaiting Z’s.


External forces have a lot of pull when it comes to sleep. How much we work out, our lighting setup during night hours, and the amount of stress we have in our lives will affect how fast we get to sleep as well as the quality of the sleep we’re getting. There’s one external factor (that quickly becomes internal) that we should pay close attention to when it comes to getting rest. That factor is food.


Many foods have naturally-occurring substances that rein in a restful night. Here are some of our favorite choices for a heavy slumber.


Cheese and Crackers

Dairy, in general, is a powerful sleep aid. Calcium and tryptophan found in dairy products join together to kick melatonin production into overdrive, which is a naturally-occurring hormone in the body. A cheese plate at a bistro or a few bites of cheese and crackers for dinner makes for a filling and sleep-inducing snack.




Packed with magnesium and metabolism-regulating goodies, figs are well known for their assistance in helping to reduce insomnia and sleep disorders. “Figs pack potassium, magnesium calcium, and iron,” says Jaclyn London, Nutrition Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute, “These minerals help with blood flow and muscle contraction, which are key for falling asleep.” Not to mention, figs are a perfect sweet treat to curb your dessert craving.


White Rice


White rice, stripped of bran and germ, has lower nutritional value than that of other rice. Due to this, it should be consumed in moderation, but white rice still has some nutrients, and a few important ones that help contribute to a good night’s sleep. Rice is high in carbohydrates and lacks fiber, making it boast a high glycemic index. This has been shown to help improve sleep when consumed at least an hour before bed.




Almonds are a powerhouse of vitamins and honest, health-promoting calories. They’re brimming with monounsaturated fat, fiber, and antioxidants, which helps to lower risks of many chronic diseases. And besides being nutritive morsels, they’re great for regulating sleep.


High magnesium content helps to lessen cortisol production, a stress hormone that interrupts sleep, while melatonin in almonds makes for a pair of heavy eyelids.




This is purely speculation, but we’d be willing to bet that the most widespread restful night in the US is after everyone is full of turkey after Thanksgiving dinner. Along with much-needed vitamins and minerals, turkey contains the amino acid tryptophan, which increases melatonin production. The protein found in turkey is potentially another slumbersome ingredient.




This low-calorie, notably nutritious fruit is one of the best sleep aids money can buy. 24 adults participated in a four-week study in Asia where each adult consumed two kiwi fruits an hour before their heads hit the pillow each night. At the study’s close, partakers fell asleep 42 percent more quickly than what had previously been their normal routine. To add to that, their ability to sleep through the night increased by 5 percent and their total sleep time improved by 13 percent.


Fatty Fish


Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and tuna have a sleep secret—their potent combo of omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin D. Omegas are great for your heart, and Vitamin D helps support bone development and calcium absorption. Better yet, both produce serotonin. Serotonin is best known as a mood-enhancer, but it’s also a powerful sleep-enhancer.


Bedtime Teas


It’s important to note that eating all of the above foods should be done at least an hour before bed—digestion and sleep aren’t a good mix. If you’re looking for a sleepytime nightcap, a few special teas can help you to drift off to dreamland. These teas are passionflower and chamomile tea.


Chamomile tea is filled with apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to receptors in your brain that encourage sleepiness and ward off insomnia. Passionflower tea also has apigenin as well as GABA, a chemical in the brain that prevents other chemicals that work to induce stress. When consumed at night, either tea would be a beneficial sleep partner.



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