6 snacks to help you sleep better

Not getting enough beauty sleep? These foods can help send you off with sweet dreams.

dark chocolate bar half open

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Sleep is an almost magical, rejuvenating thing. When we get enough of it, our eyes look brighter, our minds run faster, and we have more energy to tackle the day. Which is probably why we’re constantly studying sleep, and engineering new ways to do it better.

In this vein, the National Sleep Foundation recently released updated sleep recommendations for how many hours a night we need. The findings may be a bit of a bore, as they affirm what we’ve long known: adult humans need seven to eight hours of sleep per night.

Still, we think this news is a great reminder that we do, in fact, need that sleep. Because many of us are not getting those prescribed seven hours (which is probably why we find ourselves wishing we could have a nap around 3 p.m. or reaching for that second cup of coffee in the afternoon). The truth is that catching Zzz’s isn’t always an easy task—and to make sure the sleep we’re getting is good, productive sleep? Even harder.

So here’s one easy solution we love: food. Research indicates that eating the right stuff before hitting the hay is a good way to help yourself rest easy. So plan to munch on one of these sleep-inducing snacks around dinnertime, or shortly thereafter:

Cheese

Last week, we found out that cheese fights cancer, and now we discovered it helps us sleep, too. (Oh, Cheese, is there anything you can’t do?) It turns out that various components that make up cheese work together to make us sleepy: the calcium helps our brains turn the tryptophan (also found in dairy) into melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone that anticipates night-time feelings, and helps your body calm down to snooze.

crackers and cheese on cheese board

Anita Peebles / Unsplash

Bananas

We love bananas for their ability to keep our muscles cramp-free, using the potassium and magnesium inside to help our muscles relax—and conveniently, this same relaxant will also help our minds stop whirring, and get us ready for bed.

granola bowl with bananas and nuts

Jakub Kapusnak / Foodie’s Feed

Oatmeal

Maybe this isn’t a breakfast dish after all. Not if the warm grains in oatmeal raise our blood sugar and make us sleepy, like research indicates. Plus, oats fill you up, and mix surprisingly well with savory foods. Oatmeal for dinner, anyone?

oatmeal bowl with almonds

Agnieszka K / Tookapic.com

Dark Chocolate

Now we’re starting to understand how chocolate pillow mints came to be! Milk chocolate will keep you wide-eyed and bushy tailed, but the serotonin in dark chocolate relaxes your body and mind. Just one little square should do the trick.

dark chocolate bar half open

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Walnuts

While you’re at it, why not add a handful of nuts to that dark chocolate you’re nibbling on? Walnuts naturally contain melatonin, and also help you produce your own melatonin, making it a double-whammy sleep-aid.

walnut jar from overhead

Image via Kaboompics

Elk

Not a fan of elk stew or elk burgers yet? Us, either. But we’d be remiss to leave it off the list because elk has twice the amount of tryptophan as turkey. So if you’re an adventurous carnivore who is having trouble sleeping, an elk dish might just be worth a try.

 

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Caryn Rivadeneira
Caryn Rivadeneira
Caryn Rivadeneira is the author of five books and is a columnist for Her.meneutics and ThinkChristian. She lives outside Chicago with her husband, three kids, and one red-nose pit bull. Visit her at carynrivadeneira.com.