8 Foods to Eat for Better Sleep Tonight

Not sleeping well at night? The solution might be in your kitchen. Nutritionist and bestselling author Dr. Wendy Bazilian suggests 8 foods that can help you get a better night’s sleep.

bowl of cherries

Cherries: Cherries are a great source of naturally occurring melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate your sleep cycle. In fact, one study showed that adults who drank two daily glasses of tart cherry juice slept on average 40 minutes longer with greater sleep efficiency. The juice has also been shown to help reduce the severity of insomnia in some sufferers. Add some dry tart cherries to a trail mix to snack on during the day, or drink up to two glasses of tart cherry juice to see the benefits for yourself.

Bananas: Bananas offer a double-whammy when it comes to good sleep-inducing benefits. The snack-size fruit can help promote sleep due to its magnesium and potassium content: Both minerals are natural muscle relaxants. Have a banana with breakfast for a health boost during the day and better sleep at night.

Walnuts: Walnuts are another standout snack for better sleep. Walnuts' melatonin content can help you achieve a better night’s sleep, plus they’re great for cognitive and heart health. Add walnuts to your trail mix and snack on them throughout the day (bonus: pair them with some dried cherries for a tasty and sleep-healthy boost!).

Complex carbohydrates: Think cereals, rice, potatoes or white bread, which can be easily digested and prime your body for a good night’s rest, according to a study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Lean proteins: There’s some truth in the Thanksgiving myth that turkey makes you sleepy. Tryptophan, an amino acid present in turkey and other lean meats such as fish and chicken, can increase your serotonin levels to help make you sleepy, if eaten in large quantities.

Legumes: Good news for those on a Paleo kick—certain legumes, such as beans, peas, and peanuts, contain a healthy dose of magnesium, a powerful relaxation mineral that can improve your sleep.

A glass of warm milk: Turns out that old insomniac's standby, the glass of warm milk before bed, actually can help you sleep better. Dr. Bazilian says this is probably due to two factors: First, the calcium in a glass of milk can help you relax, much like other minerals such as magnesium and potassium. And the ritual of having a glass of milk, especially if it’s warm and soothing, can help you power down after a long day, especially as part of a bedtime ritual that signals to your body and brain it’s time to hit the hay.

Herbal tea: The calming effects of chamomile or peppermint tea can help you fall asleep faster and deeper. Preparing a cup of tea before bed can also be a soothing part of an effective pre-bedtime ritual.

Bonus Sleep-Better Tip: As great as each of these foods can be for helping you get a more restful night of sleep, be wary of eating them too close to bed. If you consume anything too late in the day, your digestive system will be hard at work making sure your food is properly processed. While your body is still efficient when you sleep and can keep the digestion process going, the energy it uses during those sleeping hours will most likely result in lower-quality sleep overall.