Getting a good night’s sleep can seem elusive. You slog through the second half of your workday, dreaming of a nap; then you’re wide awake come bedtime. Certain factors can contribute to sleep issues, such as too much screen time, disruptive noises, caffeine, anxiety, alcohol…but food matters, too. In fact, there are even specific foods you can eat during your waking hours to help you drift off more easily. Better yet: They are delicious, too. These are the best foods to eat if you’re trying to overhaul your nightly routine.
Calcium deficiency is thought to be a common cause of insomnia. Yes, the old myth of drinking a cup of warm milk before bed may not be so far-fetched after all. If you aren’t into the idea of heated milk, try consuming yogurt with dinner to get your calcium. If eating yogurt before bed, add a teaspoon of honey, which has a calming effect. Sounds pretty sweet.
If you are having trouble falling asleep, it could be a magnesium deficiency. Too much caffeine and stress, or improper hydration post-exercise, can all deplete magnesium levels. This can lead to muscle cramps, headaches, and other physical symptoms like insomnia. And since approximately half of adults are deficient in this mineral to some degree, it’s a good idea to get some magnesium-rich foods into your daily routine. Kelp, almonds, figs, dates, brown rice, and the much-loved avocado are excellent options.
Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, shown to reduce stress hormones and create a restful mood. This tasty fish also contains Vitamin B-6, which boosts melatonin production, the hormone that promotes a good night’s sleep. You’ll also get the added benefits of a lower risk of heart disease, which ought to help you sleep better at night, too.
Rather than reaching for a nightcap, try a glass of tart cherry juice or a handful of dried tart cherries. They are a natural source of melatonin and will promote a restful mood. When opting for dried cherries, be sure you buy those with no added sugar. A sugar buzz is not what you need right before turning in. For a super soothing bedtime treat, mix up a cup of this yummy cherry turmeric bedtime tea.
One more reason to love this crunchy green: It can help you fall asleep. Kale is a great source of calcium and is also rich in potassium, a natural relaxant that helps you get (and stay) asleep. While kale is seeing a surge in health and wellness popularity, the super thick veg may not be for everyone. To get your daily dose without the rough texture, try adding this green to a smoothie or whipping up some tasty kale chips for snacking.
Bananas are a healthy option for getting melatonin-boosting potassium and Vitamin B-6. This sweet fruit also contains magnesium and tryptophan. Eat solo, blended into a smoothie, or atop your favorite cereal. It may just be the perfect bedtime snack.
This breakfast staple can actually help you snooze. Fortified cereals are good sources of Vitamin B-6, which we need for adequate zzz’s. Opt for low-sugar, whole-grain varieties. Pair with bananas and milk, and you’ll be off to Snoozeville in no time.
You know how Thanksgiving turkey puts you into a food coma? Well, the same compound that makes turkey snooze-worthy is found in chickpeas. Tryptophan helps you produce melatonin to aid in falling asleep. And a midnight snack of hummus doesn’t sound so bad.
If you’ve removed all bread from your diet, you could literally be losing sleep over it. The best news yet is that whole grains contain magnesium, which we know helps us sleep. It also promotes insulin production, which actually makes tryptophan more active in our body, making us tired. A good reason to say yes to the bread.
Want more sleep tips? You got it:
This story was originally published on March 2017, and has since been updated.