As much as we all want to sink into bed and enjoy a perfect eight hours of sleep after a long day, our minds often have other plans for us. Many of us find that even when he need it most, sleep is elusive — with racing thoughts, stubborn insomnia or other interruptions keeping us awake.
Before you reach for a nighttime sleep aid, however, try taking the natural route: These 10 foods can help you fall asleep (and stay asleep!) for the long haul so you wake up feeling restored in the morning.
(Pair it with this yoga sequence and you'll sleep like a baby.)
Who knew? Our favorite a.m. snack is also a great choice for helping you get a better night's sleep.
Because bananas are rich in potassium and magnesium, they act as something of a natural muscle-relaxant, according to R Keri Gans, a registered dietitian in New York City and author of The Small Change Diet. And since bananas contain carbs, they'll give you an extra bit of sleepiness, too.
Fun fact: Cherries are one of the few natural sources of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate the body's internal clock.
You may have come across melatonin in the past in capsule form, sold by health food stores as a way to promote healthy sleep cycles, but why not enjoy the sweet taste of cherries as an easy and delicious way to get it naturally?
It's long been believed that tryptophan makes you sleepy, and pumpkin seeds have plenty. As Jessica Redmond, RD, told Everyday Health, "Research [has] shown that a tryptophan deficiency leads to a serotonin deficiency, and serotonin is one of the hormones that influences our circadian rhythm and sleep patterns. The solution? Eating foods like turkey, soy beans and pumpkin seeds, which contain decent amounts of tryptophan.”
The best part? There are plenty of ways to use these powerful little seeds — you can even make hummus out of them.
Want the buzz on what'll help you sleep? It turns out that honey, everyone's favorite natural sweetener, is on the list.
That little boost of sugar from a drizzle of honey can help lower levels of orexin, a neurotransmitter that is tasked with keeping you alert. To double up on the benefits, add a bit of honey to a soothing nighttime tea blend.
If you're in the habit of carbing up before bed, make your next meal with jasmine rice. Ranked high on the glycemic index, jasmine rice is processed slowly by your body, which means it releases sugars into your bloodstream at a slow and steady pace.
And according to a 2007 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating jasmine rice four hours before bed can help you fall asleep faster than other high-glycemic-index meals.
While we rarely need more encouragement to enjoy avocados, this little tip just may put us over the top.
Avocados are rich in magnesium, which can improve the quality of your sleep, ranging from the amount of time slept to the ease of waking up in the morning — giving us another excuse to indulge in some late-night guac.
Fortified cereal and milk
More reason to join the "breakfast for dinner" movement: Serving up a bowl of shredded wheat or another "good" complex carb-based cereal can help you get to sleep.
As a bonus, milk is also a great sleep aid, so pour some on: As Russell Rosenberg, Ph.D., and CEO of the National Sleep Foundation put it to Health, “That’s two for the price of one."
Oats are another natural source of melatonin, which makes them perfect for helping you get ready to doze.
Mix up a bowl of oatmeal (you can even prep tomorrow's overnight oats while you're at it!) for an easier time getting to sleep. Add some honey and a sliced banana on top to really get the maximum benefits (and flavor).
Sure, you can enjoy chickpeas prepared any way to get this nighttime benefit, but hummus just happens to be our favorite way to snack before bed. Chickpeas are high in vitamin B6, which helps your body produce seratonin (that feel-good hormone that helps put you at ease).