Falling asleep is a challenge we all face sooner or later, and not everyone wants to take supplements to assist in the process. Going natural is always an option as food is filled with essentials that can lull your body into slumber.
We’re going to peek at the top eight foods that help you sleep naturally, recommend places to get them and figure out why they work.
The Short Version
The top eight foods that help you sleep are:
- Warm milk
- Chamomile, black and passionflower tea
- Dark chocolate
- Cherries or cherry juice
- Fatty fish
8 Foods That Help You Sleep
1. Warm Milk
It’s a classic, isn’t it? But why? Most of the time when people recommend warm milk for struggles sleeping they don’t know why it works.
Warm milk has two ways of getting things done. One is through association—the warm milk reminds you of your bedtime as a child, if you consumed it back then. Placebo effects are strong, and if you believe warm milk helped you sleep as a child then it probably will as an adult, too.
Then we have the physiological—milk contains:
- Melatonin, the sleep hormone;
- Tryptophan, which can make you sleepy;
- Vitamin D, which impacts how long you sleep.
So don’t scoff at someone who tells you that warm milk can help settle you before bed. It really can!
Chamomile tea is another one of those that gets thrown around for helping sleep, as well as relaxation. This is only half true.
Right now there’s little research suggesting that chamomile tea can send you to sleep. The limited evidence the research shows theorizes that apigenin in chamomile stimulates sleep by activating your GAMNA A receptors. There’s nothing, so far, saying it relaxes you if consumed in this specific beverage.
However, one tea has been shown to relax you, but it’s not chamomile. It’s …
During one six-week study, it was shown that black tea can lower stress and therefore help you relax. Lowering your stress levels can increase sleep duration, or help you through a time of acute stress-induced insomnia.
If stress isn’t your issue, anxiety might be—for that, you need passionflower. Like chamomile, this tea contains Apigenin, which can help calm you down and promote sleepiness.
Passionflower tea has been shown to help people sleep better, anxiety aside, although the solitary study had people self-reporting their sleep improvements. A different group of people may self-report entirely differently, so more research is required to solidly state passionflower promotes sleep.
Where To Buy
Amazon is a fantastic place to find tea and reasonably priced, with deals letting you subscribe and save money on it. Here are our recommendations:
3. Dark Chocolate
Chocolate, of all things, can actually help you sleep! But it has to be dark chocolate, as it contains more cocoa which can help your brain produce serotonin.
Serotonin is one of the “happy chemicals” as today’s younger generations affectionately call it. It helps your mind and your body relax. This, in turn, may promote sleepiness or improve the quality of your sleep.
Where To Buy
There are lots of places you can find dark chocolate—it’s in almost every supermarket. However, read on and we’ll give you a dark chocolate suggestion that combines with another sleep-helping food.
If you want some dark chocolate on its own then we recommend Hotel Chocolat Dark Chocolate Baton Library—with one a day, it’s a 45-day supply!
4. Cherries or Cherry Juice
Cherries have numerous health benefits which were observed in 2018. Researchers were studying the numerous health benefits of the fruit and its juice.
Outside of sleep, cherries can help reduce pain and help your cognition, thanks to the anti-inflammatory nature in them. Sleep-wise they contain polyphenols, which might influence your sleep.
Alongside that, they contain the aforementioned tryptophan, melatonin and serotonin, all of which are excellent at helping you achieve proper sleep.
The research also concluded that tart cherries or cherry juice is best for sleep and relaxation.
Where To Buy
There are several tart cherry products you can purchase, two of which have subscription options. Here are our recommendations:
- Biona Organic Tart Pure Cherry Juice
- Berrilys Organic Dried Cherries, 450 gr, Sour, Tart
- Graze Dark Chocolate Cherry Tart
Almonds have an array of health benefits, but we’re going to focus on the sleep element of that. They’re full of magnesium, which has been attributed to improving your quality of sleep in three studies here, here and here.
Like many of the foods above, the studies also show that almonds may also help reduce the cortisol in your body. Cortisol can disrupt your sleep, adding further sleep benefits to the little nuts.
Where To Buy
Instead of getting those little packs in the supermarket, buying in bulk can help you save. Seba Garden Californian Almonds come in kilogram bags.
As displayed in foods above, magnesium, melatonin and calcium can help with sleep. Walnuts contain all three which means there’s a high likelihood that they can help with your sleep.
So far there’s no research to support this, but considering that the foods above can help, it wouldn’t hurt to nibble on some walnuts. If anything, they’re a healthy snack to ensure you don’t go to bed hungry. Helping you sleep is a bonus.
Where To Buy
Like with the almonds above, buying in bulk can help you save. Californian Walnut Halves come in kilogram-weight quantities.
You need something to pair with those walnuts and almonds sometimes—why not lettuce? Make yourself a nut salad with a side of tea.
Although no studies have been performed using humans yet, mice studies are promising with lettuce. One revealed that n-butanol, which lettuce contains, makes mice fall asleep faster, and sleep longer. The other study showed that lettuce helps prevent stress-induced inflammation, eradicating disturbances in sleep.
8. Fatty Fish
Yet again, fatty fish needs more research to determine just how much it helps you fall asleep. However, thus far the results are promising.
One study revealed that the vitamin D in fatty fish helped men fall asleep 10 minutes faster than those who consumed other substances before bed.
It’s thought that the vitamin D, alongside the omega-3 in fatty fish, helps serotonin production and therefore leads to decreased sleep latency and possibly enhanced sleep quality. You can see this research here, here and here.
Avoid consuming fatty fish less than an hour before bed to ensure it has time to begin healthy digestion.
There are lots of foods that help you sleep, although there’s more research required with many of them. Nibbling on any of these before bed may help you sleep better, though and now that you think they’ll help you sleep better, maybe a placebo effect will kick in and help out.
Try not to eat too much before bed, though. Going to sleep with a full stomach is never a good idea. It’s uncomfortable, and may undo the effects of the sleep enhancers in food!