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Best 5 Foods to Help Improve Sleep Naturally

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Your body needs to become relaxed before you can fall asleep. Certain botanical compounds, like melatonin, naturally induce drowsiness, and loading up on carbs is an age-old insomnia-fighting trick that still works to this day. In this guide, we’ll introduce you to the five best foods for sleep and how to eat them.

Which foods are best for sleep?

To sleep deeply and regenerate for the next day, your body needs plenty of essential vitamins and minerals. Some nutrients, like magnesium, have sleep-promoting properties, and dietary melatonin mimics your body’s own sleep-inducing mechanisms.

Perhaps the simplest trick for getting yourself to sleep, however, is loading up on carbs. You’ll receive a momentary rush of serotonin that puts your mind at ease, and the ensuing blood sugar crash will naturally incentivise your body to enter a restful sleep pattern. Here are the five foods you’ll need to get the good night of sleep you deserve:

1. Almonds

Almonds contain melatonin and magnesium, both of which help you get to sleep, stay asleep, and sleep better.

  • Calories per 100g: 550
  • Grams of fibre: 12
  • Grams of protein: 20
  • Grams of fats: 58
  • Grams of carbs: 8

2. Kiwis

Kiwis contain naturally-occurring serotonin, which boost sleep, and they’re also potent sources of antioxidants.

  • Calories per 100g: 60
  • Grams of fibre: 5
  • Grams of protein: 3
  • Grams of fats: 5
  • Grams of carbs: 15

3. White rice

Eating foods with a high glycemic index might improve sleep quality, and white rice also contains essential nutrients while keeping dietary fibre low.

  • Calories per 100g: 160
  • Grams of fibre: 1
  • Grams of protein: 5
  • Grams of fats: 0
  • Grams of carbs: 35

4. Tart cherries

As one of the only fruit sources of melatonin, tart cherries are delicious sleep aids that you won’t mind snacking on or drinking before bed.

  • Calories per 100g: 50
  • Grams of fibre: 5
  • Grams of protein: 0
  • Grams of fats: 5
  • Grams of carbs: 12

5. Walnuts

The fatty acids in walnuts improve sleep quality in clinical studies, which appears to be due to their synthesis into serotonin in the brain. Walnuts also contain essential nutrients that might improve sleep.

  • Calories per 100g: 700
  • Grams of fibre: 7
  • Grams of protein: 15
  • Grams of fats: 70
  • Grams of carbs: 154

 

Benefits of almonds for sleep

Why are almonds good for sleep?

Almonds naturally contain melatonin, a neurotransmitter-like compound that your brain uses to induce the feeling of drowsiness. These tree nuts are also great sources of essential minerals, and they contain healthy fats and fatty acids that help your body operate effectively. For instance, a serving of almonds contains around 20% of your daily value for magnesium, which makes these tasty nuts a great snack to keep on your nightstand.

When and how to eat almonds

You can snack on almonds with other nuts or on their own. With a rich texture and a smooth teardrop shape, almonds blend well with every type of trail mix.

How are almonds under-appreciated?

Going off the nutritional benefits these nuts offer, it’s almost as if almonds were specifically designed to aid with sleep. Whether you suffer from insomnia or simply want to sleep better at night, snacking on these healthy tree nuts with an almost ideal fat ratio is a great way to maximise your sleep health.

Dish ideas

Almond butter provides the same benefits as actual almonds. It spreads well on toast, and it has more nutritional benefits than peanut butter.

 

Benefits of kiwis for sleep

Why are kiwis good for sleep?

Kiwis contain serotonin, the body’s most ubiquitous neurotransmitter. Your nervous system needs serotonin for hundreds of different processes, and this substance provides you with the rush of relaxation and contentment that facilitates the beginning of the sleep cycle. Kiwis are also great sources of essential nutrients your body needs to stay healthy and rest well.

When and how to eat kiwis

Contrary to popular opinion, kiwi skin is edible, and some people find it delicious. If eating a kiwi like an apple is a bit much for you, consider cutting it into quarters and scooping the fruit out with a spoon instead.

How are kiwis under-appreciated?

While kiwis are renowned for their deliciousness and unique texture, hardly anyone knows that these exotic fruits contain bioavailable serotonin. If you’ve ever felt a rush of happiness after eating a kiwi, however, now you know why.

Dish ideas

Vegan kiwi sorbet is easy to make, and tart cherry juice could be the perfect taste-booster. Add shaved almonds on top to craft the perfect frosty nightcap.

 

Benefits of white rice for sleep

Why is white rice good for sleep?

Complex carbs provide you with a feeling of satiation that helps you rest more fully. Rice has a high glycemic index, which provides a rush of energy with an ensuing crash that helps you get to sleep. Plus, the feeling of satiation provided by white rice makes you sleep deeply. One study showed that people who ate white rice slept better than people who ate similar carbs.

When and how to eat white rice

You can cook white rice in many different ways, and once cooked, it stays edible for 2-3 days if refrigerated. Sticky rice, in particular, is very portable in the form of balls or Japanese onigiri.

How is white rice under-appreciated?

White rice is a carb, and it has a high glycemic index. In almost every case, these attributes would disqualify white rice from being a “health food.” When you need to get to sleep so you can function the next day, however, this complex carb is one of the healthiest foods you could eat.

Dish ideas

Make your own onigiri rice balls at home. Here’s a recipe to get you started.

 

Benefits of tart cherries for sleep

Why are tart cherries good for sleep?

Tart cherries are a great source of botanical melatonin, which helps your body fall asleep and governs the timing of the overall sleep cycle. These berries also contain lots of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant, and various other essential nutrients.

When and how to eat tart cherries

You can enjoy tart cherries fresh, but they are more commonly found dried or juiced. When you buy these berries juiced, make sure it’s 100%-pure tart cherry juice that’s not from concentrate.

How are tart cherries under-appreciated?

Normal cherries are also nutritious, but tart cherries win in terms of melatonin content. Since tart cherries are usually offered juiced, it’s easy to keep a container by your bed.

Dish ideas

Tart cherry juice can be a little bit overwhelming on its own. Added to a fruit smoothie, however, this thick, tangy juice is the perfect flavour-enhancer.

 

Benefits of walnuts for sleep

Why are walnuts good for sleep?

Walnuts contain a fatty acid called ALA, which concerts to DHA in the body. DHA, in turn, facilitates the production of serotonin, which your body uses to get to sleep. Walnuts are also great sources of magnesium and other essential minerals.

When and how to eat walnuts

Pack a bag of walnuts with you on the go, or roast them at home as the perfect complement to that bar of 100%-cacao chocolate you’ve been keeping in the cupboard.

How are walnuts under-appreciated?

It’s true that walnuts contain a lot of fat. Most of these fats, however, are healthy, and walnuts also contain a lot of essential minerals your body needs to regenerate and rest.

Dish ideas

With just a few ingredients, you can bake walnuts into delicious, candied snacks that your friends will be dying to share. Here’s how.

About the author
WeAreFeel Nutrition Team - All content provided on our blog is created exclusively for our readers by our research and nutrition team. We try to provide as much scientific backing as possible with references to support any claims made.
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