Eating These 4 Foods Before Bed Will Help You Get a Better Night's Sleep
A nutrition expert shares her top pre-bedtime snacks.
Wouldn't it be lovely if you could crawl into bed each night and effortlessly fall asleep? Unfortunately, a good night's rest can be hard to come by, especially as we get older. According to the experts at HealthDay, 28 percent of adults in the U.S. say insomnia is taking a toll on their daily lives, and nearly two-thirds report using sleep aids daily to help themselves fall or stay asleep. However, while medications can work in the short term, they won't get to the root of your sleep problems. That's why adopting healthy lifestyle habits, like eating health foods and getting daily exercise, is a better way to address your sleep issues in the long run.
We chatted with Kelsey Kunik, RDN, registered dietitian and nutrition advisor for Zenmaster Wellness, who shares her favorite foods to snack on before bed. Read on to find out what they are, so you can finally get a good night's sleep and feel like yourself again.
Walnuts are high in sleep-promoting nutrients.
If you browse the supplement aisle at any drugstore, you're bound to find the popular sleep aids magnesium and melatonin. Walnuts are high in both of these sleep-enhancing nutrients. They're also high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to improve sleep quality.
"Walnuts are high in magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, and melatonin, all of which support a good night's sleep," says Kunik. "Just one ounce of walnuts has 11 percent of the daily value for magnesium, a mineral associated with higher sleep quality."
In a 2021 study published in Current Developments in Nutrition, researchers found that people whose diets were high in magnesium slept longer and had better sleep quality than those who consumed less. So feel free to munch on a handful of walnuts or include them in your morning oatmeal to boost your sleep quality.
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Oats are a good source of tryptophan.
Oatmeal is the breakfast of champions for many reasons. It helps lower cholesterol, control blood sugar, promote weight loss, and boost heart health. No wonder it's one of the most widely consumed whole grains worldwide. And now it can even help you get a better night's sleep, due to its tryptophan content.
"Oats are a good source of tryptophan, which helps your body produce melatonin, supporting a natural sleep cycle," explains Kunik. "For extra benefit, flavor your oatmeal with berries instead of sugar. The extra fiber in the berries will slow the digestion of carbohydrates, avoiding a sugar high and crash that could disrupt your sleep."
Peanut butter is high in sleep-promoting nutrients.
"Peanut butter makes for the perfect bedtime snack, as it's rich in healthy fats, protein, and sleep-promoting amino acids and vitamins," says Kunik. "The fat and protein in peanut butter will keep you full throughout the night without impacting your blood sugar."
In addition, peanut butter is a rich source of vitamin E, which research has shown to increase sleep length and quality. Just two tablespoons contain 13 percent of your daily value of this essential nutrient for high-quality sleep. Kunik adds, "Peanuts are also a good source of tryptophan, an amino acid needed to produce serotonin and melatonin to help regulate the sleep cycle."
Salmon is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Salmon is rich in the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which have been shown to combat inflammation, lower blood pressure, and reduce chronic disease risk. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that men who ate fatty fish three times per week for six months fell asleep faster and reported better daily functioning than before including fatty fish in their diet.
"Eating fatty fish like salmon for dinner could help improve sleep in adults and children, since oily fish is high in essential fatty acids EPA and DHA as well as vitamin D," says Kunik.