Looking for a Good Night’s Rest? Here’s What to Eat Before Bedtime

You probably already know to avoid some foods before dinner — anything containing caffeine can really wreak havoc on your sleep schedule and cost you hours of valuable rest. While avoiding foods that are not sleep friendly helps, choosing items known to promote sound sleep will assist you in getting to bed more quickly, and with having a more restful night in general. From calcium packed vegetables to foods that are naturally high in sleep-inducing tryptophan, the food categories below are designed to help you sleep more soundly and wake up refreshed and recharged every morning.

High Tryptophan Foods

Ever felt tired after a big Thanksgiving meal? Overindulgences aside, turkey contains tryptophan, an amino acid that actually stimulates the production of serotonin and makes you sleepy. Foods high in tryptophan are naturally good bedtime picks, particularly if you serve them alongside a carbohydrate. Snack on a turkey sandwich, hummus, a handful of walnuts or even an elk burger to boost your tryptophan levels and drift gently and naturally off to sleep.

Graze from the Dairy Case

It’s more than just an old wives tale; warm milk really does help you get sound sleep thanks to the calcium, magnesium and tryptophan found in most dairy items. From cheese to milk (and yes, even ice-cream) think dairy when you need to get a good night’s sleep. Combine your dairy with a high-carbohydrate food like fruit, cereal or crackers to boost your melatonin levels and speed your way into dreamland.

Have a Cup of Tea

While regular black tea won’t help, and may even hinder your efforts to get a good night’s sleep, choosing a tea that contains chamomile, valerian or passion fruit can ease stress and help you relax enough to sleep well. You can choose a single ingredient tea or a blend. Adding a natural sweetener to your cup can boost the effects of the tea by increasing your insulin levels, too.

Sweeten Things Up with Honey

Add a spoonful of honey to your cereal, tea or even plain yogurt to ensure a good night’s sleep. This natural sweetener works to increase the insulin your body produces, making you more receptive to nodding off on time. Combining this natural sweetener with a food containing tryptophan can allow your brain to absorb the amino acid more easily and boost its effects.

Eat Your Leafy Greens

Eat your veggies if you want a good night’s sleep! Vegetables and other foods that are high in calcium can contribute to a restful night by naturally increasing the melatonin your brain creates. Melatonin is naturally occurring and is what triggers the urge to sleep at night, but eating foods rich in calcium like spinach, kale and other dark leafy greens can significantly increase the amount of melatonin your brain absorbs and help you have the most restful night possible.

Snack on High Glycemic Index Carbohydrates

Foods high in carbs make you tired, so choosing a healthy but high-carb food for dinner or dessert can boost insulin levels and help you get a true night of sound sleep. Foods made with white or refined flour like pretzels, crackers or breads are considered to be high glycemic index and complement many of the other sleep inducers on our list. White rice, fruit and baked goods are all sleep friendly as well, but are slightly higher in calories than their bread-based counterparts.

Boost Your Body’s Ability to Relax, and Get Some Rest!

From turkey to chamomile tea, adding some of the suggested foods to your pantry and fridge can help you relax and get to sleep more quickly, even after a stressful day. Simple changes to the foods that you enjoy before and after dinner can have a big impact on the quality of your sleep and are worth making if you've been missing out on rest.