6 Foods That Help or Harm Your Sleep

When we think about improving our sleep habits, we know to be cautious of blue light in screens, snoozing on a mattress that is unique to our sleep style and comfort preferences, and setting a consistent schedule. But there’s an important aspect that’s often overlooked when learning about better sleep habits: food. The food we eat and the drinks we consume throughout the day impact (either positively or negatively) how fast we fall asleep and how long we stay there.

When looking for foods that help promote rest, we need to look for those which naturally contain serotonin, melatonin, tryptophan and antioxidants. While there are full recipes, from veggie marinara pasta to turkey burgers and sweet potatoes, aimed to help you snooze, evening snacks are also a great option.

Four Snacks to Help You Sleep

Kiwis

Rich in both vitamin C antioxidants and serotonin, kiwis make an excellent bedtime snack. A clinical study conducted on the relationship between kiwis and quality of sleep found eating two kiwis before bed can help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

Cherries

A natural source of melatonin and antioxidants, cherries have also shown to increase the amount of tryptophan in your body. A glass of tart cherry juice before bed can stimulate the release of melatonin in your body and make you feel sleepy. A study on tart cherry juice found drinking a glass in the mornings and evenings can promote restful sleep and even treat insomnia.

Bananas

Containing tryptophan, magnesium and potassium, bananas can help you relax and fall asleep faster on three fronts. While everyone knows of the sleep-promoting properties of tryptophan, magnesium and potassium are both natural muscle relaxants, helping your body unwind by promoting a sense of calm.

Almonds

With one ounce of almonds containing roughly 75 mg of magnesium, this easy snack is a great way to improve your quality of sleep. One clinical study even found consuming almonds on a daily basis can help fight insomnia while also lowering your risk for chronic diseases.

Generally, we want to avoid eating within two to three hours of bedtime. This allows the body to properly digest the food. Foods that are hard to digest shouldn’t be eaten in the evening.

Two Types of Food to Avoid Before Bedtime

Red Meat

High in protein and often high in fat, red meat is difficult for the body to digest, which means if you are trying to sleep but your body is still breaking down your steak, it’s going to keep you awake.

Spicy Food

While this is more generic advice, it’s important to remember while turmeric and chilies have benefits to the body, they also can increase the risk of indigestion, especially if consumed right before lying down. Spicy foods can increase the acidity in your stomach, leading to an unsettled feeling that’s counterproductive to a good night’s sleep. –David Klose, Certified Sleep Science Coach at Amerisleep

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