Seven surprising foods that'll help you sleep at night

Eating right before bed won't help you sleep better, but some foods you eat at dinner can help you fall asleep faster and have better, quality sleep.

 Cats asleep in the sun (photo credit: PEXELS)
Cats asleep in the sun
(photo credit: PEXELS)

There are people for whom sleep at night comes very easily, while for others it's something longed for that takes quite some time. 

We already know that staring at our phones can disrupt sleep, as can disturbing thoughts and bad habits like snacking in bed or watching TV. In contrast, some habits can actually contribute to the quality of our sleep and even help us fall asleep earlier. 

It's not just about a hot shower; you can eat some food at dinner or have a light snack with a hot drink an hour before bed that may help you sleep better.

Lettuce

Lettuce is very good for your diet, and also for sleep. When you cut lettuce for a salad it secretes a milky substance called lactucarium. This substance has sedative properties and some claim that its effect on the brain is similar to opium so that it's effective for insomnia and also for anxiety.

 If eating lettuce doesn't help baby chicks fall asleep at night, it may at least help humans do so. (credit: PEXELS) If eating lettuce doesn't help baby chicks fall asleep at night, it may at least help humans do so. (credit: PEXELS)

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes have a double advantage for those who want to improve the quality of sleep. Besides being a complex carbohydrate, they also contain potassium which relaxes the body's muscles. 

Other sources of potassium are potatoes baked with the skin, lima beans and papaya.

White rice

White rice has a high glycemic index, which means that the body digests it slowly, releasing sugar into the blood gradually and moderately. A study published in 2007 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating rice four hours before bed helps people fall asleep faster.

Almonds

Almonds are rich in magnesium, a mineral necessary for quality sleep and for building bones. Research published in the journal Orthomolecular Medicine found that when the body's magnesium levels are too low, it's difficult to sleep. 

 Could almonds be the answer to getting a good night's sleep? (credit: PIXAHIVE) Could almonds be the answer to getting a good night's sleep? (credit: PIXAHIVE)

Also, almonds contain the amino acid tryptophan, which boosts sleep quality.

Bananas

Bananas help people sleep because they contain potassium and magnesium, natural substances that relax the muscles. Also, bananas contain tryptophan and vitamin B6, which is essential for the production of serotonin.

Cherries

In a study conducted at the University of Louisiana in 2014, people who suffered from insomnia and drank rich cherry juice every day slept about an hour and a half more each night compared to those who took a placebo.

Cherries are among the few natural foods that contain melatonin, the chemical responsible for our biological clock that regulates our waking and sleeping hours. People who travel internationally often take melatonin capsules to alleviate symptoms of jetlag and adapt to the local clock.

Warm milk

You may be surprised, but this isn't just a home remedy depicted in movies. Milk contains an amino acid called tryptophan, which is one of the substances involved in the production of serotonin in the brain that facilitates falling asleep. 

But, the most important thing about hot milk is that it's hot. When you raise the body's temperature, blood vessels expand and release the heat as quickly as possible to the body which helps relax it.