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9 Foods That Help You Sleep

Struggling with a lack of sleep is one of the most common problems among people in the United States. It’s estimated that around one in every three people has at least a mild problem with falling and staying asleep, while some find themselves in a constant battle just a get a couple of hours every night. The industry of finding ways to get people to get more sleep is massive, with supplements, clinics and mattress stores all promoting the cure-all for insomniacs.

You don’t have to shell out thousands of dollars to help you get more hours of sleep at night, however. Studies have showed that changing your diet can help promote sleep, knowing which foods to eat and which to avoid. So if you’re one of the 60 million Americans that isn’t getting the recommended six to eight hours of sleep each night, take a look at what you’re eating. See the natural remedies for insomnia with these foods that help you sleep.

Tart Cherries


Whether you’re eating tart cherries or drinking juice from this fine fruit, you’re on your way to a better night’s sleep. Studies showed that people with insomnia who drank tart cherry juice twice per day were able to get more than an extra hour of sleep per night. It was a quick benefit, too, as the participants found these improvements in just two weeks. The quality of sleep even improved for these people, allowing them to stay asleep for a longer duration throughout the night without having to wake up.



Another fruit that could give a big boost to your sleeping habits is the kiwi. One of the reasons is the high amount of vitamin C and other antioxidants that boost your immune system, while also repairing cells while you sleep. One study showed that people who ate two kiwis an hour before heading to bed were able to decrease the amount of time it took to fall asleep by more than 30 percent. Sleep quality also improved by more than 40 percent, and the total time staying asleep raised by higher than 13 percent. The high levels of serotonin in the kiwi were to thank, as this hormone puts your mind at ease at night.



A lot of studies have looked into how certain types of nuts can help you sleep. Most of them were found to be beneficial, but two of them really stood out, and these were walnuts and Brazil nuts. Walnuts got high grades in promoting sleep because one serving has more than 300 milligrams of tryptophan, an amino acid that can make you feel sleepier. As for Brazil nuts, their high selenium concentration made the thyroid more efficient. When your thyroid is functioning at a high level, you’ll achieve a better chemical balance to fall asleep.



It’s not quite as enticing to gnaw on some lettuce before heading to bed compared to a glass of warm milk, but research shows that it’s beneficial. Even more than other green vegetables, lettuce contains a compound known as lactucarium. This compound has been shown to sedate your nervous system, making it more relaxed to give you a more comfortable and restful feeling. Making sure you get a lot of lettuce during your last meal of the day is the best way of getting this sleep booster’s benefits in your diet.



In terms of vitamins and minerals, bananas are among the most well rounded in the fruit world. Bananas contain important nutrients such as potassium and magnesium that help your nervous system and muscles so that you can get settled in to sleep. It’s also perfect in terms of calories since you want a little extra before bed to sleep better, but not too much. A calorie deficiency causes your body to use muscle as fuel, so getting calories to use as fuel and nutrients to protect your muscles make bananas great for a pre-bed snack.

Chamomile Tea


You want to make sure that you aren’t getting sugar or caffeine before bed (more on that in a bit), but there are certain drinks that can promote sleep. Chamomile tea is one of these drinks, which has been shown to have benefits if you drink it around 30 minutes before trying to sleep. Chamomile acts as a sedative that stimulates your brain, having a bit of a tranquilizing effect. While some have disputed just how helpful chamomile tea is, many swear by this drink to turn their brain off at night.

Cottage Cheese


Having a little bit of cottage cheese before bed can get you the protein that you need to repair muscles to make them more relaxed and also fuel your body. Cottage cheese helps your body produce tryptophan through casein protein. Casein is different in the fact that it’s slow to digest, so while you’re body is sleeping, it will be using this protein for long term energy. Experts say combining cottage cheese with a graham cracker is a great way to go.



Though we don’t normally suggest foods that are higher on the glycemic index, eating rice is one of the better overall foods that you can eat in terms of health benefits in this regard, including sleep. When you’re eating high glycemic index foods, your body will spike in blood sugar levels, leading to an increase in tryptophan production. Those that a diet that consisted of more rice without changing calories were found to have better sleep overall. However, other high GI foods that include pasta turned out to have a negative effect.



Normally eating cereal is the first thing you do after waking up to eat breakfast, but you should actually change it around to eat cereal before bed, instead. Certain types of cereals can make you a lot sleepier, especially ones that are made with steel-cut oats and millet. This includes shredded wheat cereal, while steering clear of sugary types. This makes oatmeal a desirable choice to induce sleep, as well, which is another breakfast food that should be treated as more of a dessert for better sleep.

Foods to Avoid


With as many foods that help you sleep, there are plenty that can really disrupt a normal sleeping pattern. You’ll obviously want to stay away from caffeine, especially later in the day. Other things might not be so obvious, however. Spicy foods can keep you up at night, with hot peppers being a big culprit. Though these peppers have a lot of health benefits, they make your body temperature rise, which is the opposite of what’s supposed to happen when you’re trying to sleep.

Foods that are high in fat or fiber (without being high in water) can also keep you up at night as your body is working to digest these foods, focusing more on that than helping get you to sleep. Any foods that can cause heartburn also negatively affect your digestive system, making it much harder to sleep. Most of the foods you should avoid might seem pretty obvious. Stay away from processed junk and try not to drink too much of anything the closer you get to bed time. This even includes water, which can cause you to wake up and make a trip to the bathroom. Knowing what all of these foods can do for you, stick to the plan and you’ll find yourself getting more sleep at night!