The Best Foods to Eat Before Bed

November 27, 2013
Healthy Sleep

Do you find yourself hungry just before going to bed every night? Need a bedtime snack to take the edge off? Millions of Americans do. While there’s plenty of studies out there that show consuming alcohol or caffeine a few hours before bedtime can actually hinder the quality of your sleep, there are fewer studies showing the effects certain foods have on the quality of your sleep. However, according to the National Sleep Foundation, there are certain foods that promote sleep. Here is a list of the best foods to eat before bed so that you can get the shut-eye you need.

One of the few natural foods to contain melatonin, a chemical that helps control your body’s internal clock and actually helps you to sleep, is cherries. Whether you choose to eat a bowl of them or drink their juice from a glass, you’ll find improvements in your sleep duration and quality of sleep. And if you’re a frequent traveler, drinking cherry juice or taking melatonin capsules is said to be a great way to combat jet lag.

Remember when you were a kid and your mom or your grandma made you a glass of warm milk to help you fall asleep? They knew exactly what they were doing. That warmed up milk contained an amino acid called tryptophan, a precursor to serotonin which many believe makes sleep easier. Whether it’s soothing childhood memories or the serotonin, either way, a glass of milk before bed is a great way to help you drift off to sleep.

Another fantastic food to eat for a bedtime snack is jasmine rice. Your body digests jasmine rice slowly because it has a high glycemic index with glucose slowly released into your bloodstream. In 2007 a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that persons who ate jasmine rice four hours before going to bed took half as much time falling asleep as persons who ate a high-glycemic-index meal four hours prior to bedtime. Researchers are theorizing that high-glycemic meals increase the production of tryptophan.

Millions of Americans crave carbs at bedtime. Carbs aren’t bad as long as you consume the right kind. That’s why a bowl of shredded wheat, quinoa, barley and buckwheat and milk with its own sleep-promoting characteristics is a healthier choice than binging on cake or a box of cookies.

Going bananas at bedtime is also a good idea. Rich with natural muscle-relaxants like magnesium and potassium as well as carbs that make you sleepy, bananas are a great choice for promoting sleep and your overall health.

Ever wonder why you doze off in front of the TV after Thanksgiving dinner? No, it’s not because you overate. Like milk, turkey contains tryptophan which can help you fall asleep faster. Throw in some sweet potatoes with sleep-promoting complex carbohydrates and muscle-relaxant potassium and you have the makings of a quality night’s sleep.

If turkey and sweet potatoes sound too heavy, you can always brew a pot of Valerian tea. Studies show the root of the valerian plant speeds the onset of sleep and improves sleep quality. While some folks believe it’s valerian tea along with chamomile, motherwort and catnip brews which don’t contain caffeine that helps with sleep others contend it’s the relaxing ritual that helps you get ready for bed.