Posted on May 21 2018
Does this sound familiar? It's 9 p.m., dinner is a distant memory, and your stomach starts to grumble. You begrudgingly make your way to bed and go to sleep hungry because you've heard over and over that eating after dinner is a no-no.
Contrary to this outdated advice, certain foods can actually help you drift off to dreamland. You just have to choose the right foods in the right amounts. Each of these foods has the power to aid in digestion, stave off late-night hunger, or relax your body and mind. Keep the serving sizes small — just a 100 to 200 calorie snack is all you need to reap the benefits of these nutritious foods and fall asleep with a happy belly and a smile on your face.
You may know tryptophan as the compound in turkey responsible for making you want to take a big ol' nap after polishing off your second plate at Thanksgiving dinner, but walnuts are also high in melatonin. Pop a handful before bed to help you fall asleep peacefully.
Ginger is a powerful digestive aid, known for naturally relieving an upset stomach and easing nausea. The best way to enjoy ginger before bed is by making this zingy root into a stomach-settling tea.
Although not as high in try ptophan as walnuts, turkey is a good source of this sleep-inducing amino acid. The high protein content in a few slices of deli turkey will help you feel fuller for longer, too.
Bananas are rich in both potassium and magnesium. Because they work together, both of these minerals are known for helping the body relax; a key ingredient for a good night's sleep. Grab a banana before bed or blend up this healthy smoothie.
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Avocados not only provide a couple of the sleep-promoting compounds we've already covered, tryptophan and magnesium, they are also a filling source of healthy fats. You don't need much, though – about 1/2 of an avocado sprinkled with pumpkin seeds or smeared on a slice of whole grain bread will have your head hitting the pillow in no time.
Spinach before bed? Hear me out before you judge. Spinach is another food that is jam-packed with the natural sleep aids potassium and magnesium. Pop a few baked spinach chips before hitting the hay or add spinach to a before-bed smoothie.
Cherries are more than just an ice cream sundae topping! Studies have actually shown that sipping tart cherry juice (available at most grocery and health food stores) can increase both the duration and quality of sleep thanks to its high levels of melatonin and tryptophan.
Pickles won't technically help you fall asleep, but the probiotics in naturally-fermented pickles (my favorite is the Bubbies brand) can help to increase your levels of good gut bugs, thus improving your digestion.
Thanks again to trytophan, milk may help you fall asleep easier. Sounds like the old wives' tale about drinking a warm glass of milk before bed may be true after all.
Maybe broccoli doesn't sound like your idea of a bedtime snack, but it just happens to be another tryptophan-packed, sleep-friendly food. Just keep the portion size on the small side because the insoluble fiber in broccoli can be difficult for some people to digest.
If you feel a bit of hunger creeping in before bed, pop a few olives to quiet your tummy. The healthy, mono-unsaturated fats in olives will help you feel full so you can fall asleep fast.
Who doesn't like a little candy before bed? Dark chocolate is rich in magnesium, so indulging in a small square before bed may help you to relax. Keep the portion size small, though, because too much of the naturally-occurring caffeine in chocolate might make it difficult to fall asleep.
Like spinach (and other leafy greens), kale is high in magnesium and potassium, both potent sleep aids. You could add a simple kale salad to dinner, or bake these delicious kale chips for a late-night snack.