10 foods to help you sleep

10 foods to help you sleep

by Tessa Wang 10 Feb 2020

Insomnia affects more people than we may think possible. Some of us get away with the occasional bout, and make up for it with a good rest the next day. Some of us are less lucky, possibly tormented by it like a chronic condition, and have to resort to sleeping pills for a good night’s sleep.


Studies have actually shown that medication to aid sleep may not be ideal for extensive use, even increasing the risk of cancer or earlier death. 


What if you are told from understanding the causes of insomnia, there are natural remedies for the condition, including foods that will help you sleep better?


1   Honey

A few hours before your planned bedtime, add some honey to warm milk or calming tea. The little boost of glucose lowers levels of orexin, a neuro-transmitter that raises your level of alertness.


2   Dairy

This is probably the one we are more familiar with – drinking a warm glass of milk before bedtime does help you sleep better. Dairy is a natural source of sleep-inducing tryptophan, and the calcium content of dairy gives the amino acid a booster.


3   Tea

This is another popular remedy for relaxing before bedtime. Chamomile tea has been proven effective for its calming effect. Go for a warm and non-caffeinated cup of tea to help you drift off to sleep.


4   Bananas

This may sound a little too sweet to some of us, but bananas are high in potassium, a mineral essential to helping you achieve a good night's sleep. Bananas also contain tryptophan and magnesium, acting as a natural sedative.


5   Grapes

Common grape varietals used to make wine like Merlot, Sangiovese, and Cabernet, contain high levels of melatonin. Don’t be excessive though, as too much alcohol can make it harder for you to stay asleep throughout the night or give you a hangover. 


6   Almonds

When the body's magnesium levels are too low, it can be hard to stay asleep. Almonds are rich in this essential mineral so having some before bedtime can really help with improving sleep quality. Additionally, magnesium is known as a good remedy for easing headaches, so should also help you to banish any lingering niggles before bedtime.


7   Pretzels

Snacks like pretzels and corn chips have a high glycemic index, which causes a natural spike in your blood sugar and insulin levels, reducing the time it takes for you to fall asleep. When you want rest, the blood sugar and insulin increase helps tryptophan enter your brain to bring on sleep. Go for the unsalted ones if you have to eat this.


8   Whole Grains

A piece of whole grain bread or toast encourages the production of insulin, which helps our neural pathways get tryptophan - an amino acid that acts as a sedative - to the brain. 


9   Poultry

All poultry contains sleep-inducing tryptophan. If you are hungry before bedtime, other than a piece of whole grain bread, you can also have a small slice of chicken or turkey, or have it on a piece of whole wheat bread.


10  Yogurt

Yogurt contains calcium, required for processing sleep-inducing hormones trytophan and melatonin. Remember to go for unsweetened yogurt, or have it with some fruit toppings. 


Besides trying the above foods, you may also want to reduce your caffeine intake gradually – opt for de-caffeinated coffee or caffeine-free drinks. Avoid using your computer or smart phone late in the evening as the light from the screen can have a stimulatory effect.