10 Sleepy-Foods Who Tell You “Good Night”
Do you have trouble falling or staying asleep?
Head for the kitchen and enjoy one or two of these foods. These foods really can make you sleepy. They relax tense muscles, quiet buzzing minds, and/or get calming, sleep-inducing hormones – serotonin and melatonin – flowing. Yawning yet?
Bedtime foods that help you sleep:
- 1 -Bananas. They’re practically a sleeping pill in a peel. In addition to a bit of soothing melatonin and serotonin, bananas contain magnesium, a muscle relaxant.
- 2 – Warm milk. It’s not a myth. Milk has some tryptophan – an amino acid that has a sedative – like effect – and calcium, which helps the brain use tryptophan. Plus there’s the psychological throw-back to infancy, when a warm bottle meant “relax, everything’s fine.”
- 3 – Honey. Drizzle a little in your warm milk or herb tea. Lots of sugar is stimulating, but a little glucose tells your brain to turn off orexin, a recently discovered neurotransmitter that’s linked to alertness.
- 4 – Oatmeal. Oats are a rich source of sleep – inviting melatonin, and a small bowl of warm cereal with a splash of maple syrup is cozy – plus if you’ve got the munchies, it’s filling too.
- 5 – Whole-wheat bread. A slice of toast with your tea and honey will release insulin, which helps tryptophan get to your brain, where it’s converted to serotonin and quietly murmurs “time to sleep.”
- 6 – Almonds. A handful of these heart-healthy nuts can be snooze-inducing, as they contain both tryptophan and a nice dose of muscle-relaxing magnesium.
- 7 – Potatoes. A small baked spud won’t overwhelm your GI tract, and it clears away acids that can interfere with yawn-inducing tryptophan. To up the soothing effects, mash it with warm milk.
- 8 – Flaxseeds. When life goes awry and feeling down is keeping you up, try sprinkling 2 tablespoons of these healthy little seeds on your bedtime oatmeal. They’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a natural mood lifter.
- 9 – Turkey. Turkey contains tryptophan, a major building block for making serotonin, a neurotransmitter, which sends messages between nerve cells and causes feelings of sleepiness. Note that L-tryptophan doesn’t act on the brain unless you eat it on an empty stomach with no protein present, so keep some turkey in the refrigerator for 3am.
- 10 – Chamomile tea. The reason chamomile is such a staple of bedtime tea blends is its mild sedating effect – it’s the perfect natural antidote for restless minds/bodies.
Foods to avoid before bedtime:
- - Heavy, spicy foods, especially if you’re prone to heartburn. Eating too much may cause you to feel physically uncomfortable when lying down.
- - Too much liquid. Drinking lots of fluids before bed can cause you to wake up repeatedly during the night to use the bathroom.
- - Alcohol. Although it may initially make you feel sleepy, alcohol can cause unrestful sleep and frequent awakenings.
- - Caffeine. A stimulant, caffeine increases the activity of your nervous system, which makes falling asleep more difficult.
- - Avoid “over-the-counter” sleep aids, and make sure that your prescribed medications do not cause insomnia. There is little evidence that supplements and other over-the-counter “sleep aids” are effective. In some cases, there are safety concerns. Antihistamine sleep aids, in particular, have a long duration of action and can cause daytime drowsiness. Always talk to your doctor or healthcare practitioner about your concerns!