This content was created by the National Sleep Foundation
Set yourself up for sound slumber with these calming foods and beverages.
Chances are, you know that eating heavy meals and certain foods can keep you up at night, and you probably try to avoid them.But you may not realize that some foods and beverages can actually put you in the mood to snooze.
In particular, foods that contain tryptophan (an amino acid that turns into relaxing brain chemicals like serotonin and melatonin), whole-grain carbs (which boost serotonin production), certain minerals (like calming calcium and magnesium), and some herbs (that have a relaxing effect) can put you in a soporific state.
If you want a night of sound slumber, consider having a light sleep-inviting snack about an hour before bedtime. Good choices include:
- Half a Banana and a Handful of Almonds: The combination of tryptophan, carbs, and calming magnesium can help make you drowsy. Don’t like bananas? Have some cherries, a natural source of melatonin, instead.
- Whole-Grain Crackers with Peanut Butter: It’s another magical combo (tryptophan + complex carbs) that will promote sound slumber.
- A Mug of Warm Milk: Grandma was right—drinking warm milk before bedtime can help you sleep better, thanks to the dairy drink’s tryptophan, calcium, and magnesium. Just make sure it's a small mug and not a huge glass, or else you'll be running to the bathroom all night.
- A Small Bowl of Whole-Grain Cereal with Milk: The milk’s tryptophan, calcium, and magnesium, coupled with the cereal’s calming carbs and magnesium can make you feel sleepy. Opt for a low-sugar cereal, so you don’t get a spike in blood sugar that could rev you up. Or make hot oatmeal with milk, because oatmeal is a rich source of sleep-promoting melatonin.
- Half a Turkey Sandwich: Make it with whole-wheat bread (rich in complex carbs and magnesium) and a couple of slices of turkey (the most famous source of tryptophan) and you’ll be ready to hit the hay in no time. Low-sugar cranberry sauce optional, if you’re really craving that Thanksgiving feeling.
- A Mug of Herbal (Decaf) Tea: Chamomile, passionflower, and valerian teas each have a sedating effect. For an extra dose of calm, add a teaspoon of honey, which contains tryptophan. (Stay away from ginseng tea, though, because it can have a stimulating effect.)
Just be sure to keep your bedtime snack on the light side. The last thing you want to do is overload your stomach and set yourself up for a night of tossing and turning—or consume extra calories in an effort to lull yourself to sleep.