16 Bedtime Snacks That Will Help You Sleep SO Much Better

Many foods contain naturally occurring substances that bring on sleep; here are some of the best choices to help you settle down for a quality rest.

Walnuts

WalnutsXan/ShutterstockWalnuts are a good source of tryptophan, a sleep-enhancing amino acid that helps make serotonin and melatonin, the “body clock” hormone that sets your sleep-wake cycles. Additionally, University of Texas researchers found that walnuts contain their own source of melatonin, which may help you fall asleep faster—unlike these 8 worst eating habits for your sleep.

Almonds

AlmondsSea Wave/ShutterstockAlmonds are rich in magnesium, a mineral needed for quality sleep (and for building bones). A study published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine found that when the body’s magnesium levels are too low, it makes it harder to stay asleep. Don't miss these other 10 natural tricks for sleeping better without drugs.

Cheese and crackers

CheeseEugenia Lucasenco/ShutterstockOld wives’ tales suggest that warm milk can make you sleepy, but the truth is any dairy product can help. Calcium (found in cheese, yogurt, milk, and these surprising sources) helps the brain use the tryptophan found in dairy to manufacture sleep-triggering melatonin. Additionally, calcium helps regulate muscle movements. Learn the 9 signs you aren't getting enough calcium.

Lettuce

LettuceBrent Hofacker/ShutterstockA salad with dinner could speed up your bedtime since lettuce contains lactucarium, which has sedative properties and affects the brain similarly to opium. You can also try this brew from the book Stealth Health: Simmer three to four large lettuce leaves in a cup of water for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, add two sprigs of mint, and sip just before you go to bed. Check out these other 13 best tips from sleep doctors.

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Pretzels

PretzelsOksana Mizina/ShutterstockFoods like pretzels and corn chips have a high glycemic index. After eating them you'll have a natural spike in your blood sugar and insulin levels, shortening the time it takes you to fall asleep. Normally, you want steady levels to avoid mood swings and insulin resistance. (In those cases, reach for one of these 10 delicious low-glycemic snacks.) But if you are looking to get rest, the blood sugar and insulin increase helps tryptophan enter your brain to bring on sleep. Learn the other best way to improve your sleep quality.

Tuna

TunaAS Food studio/ShutterstockFish such as tuna, halibut, and salmon are high in vitamin B6, which your body needs to make melatonin and serotonin. (Find out how to tell if you're low in important vitamins.) Other foods high in B6 include raw garlic and pistachio nuts. Don't miss these 22 sleeping mistakes that are messing with your rest.

Rice

RicePrasit jamkajornkiat/ShutterstockWhite rice has a high glycemic index, so eating it will significantly slash the time it takes you to fall asleep, according to an Australian study. In particular, jasmine rice in particular brings on shut-eye faster; research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate a meal that included jasmine rice fell asleep faster than when they ate other rice types. Check out these other 11 weird tricks that help you sleep better.

Cherry Juice

CherriesShaiith/ShutterstockA glass of cherry juice could make you fall asleep faster, according to researchers from the Universities of Pennsylvania and Rochester. Cherries, particularly tart cherries, naturally boost levels of melatonin. (Here are 7 things you should know before taking melatonin pills to sleep.) In the study, subjects who drank cherry juice experienced some improvement in their insomnia symptoms compared to those who drank a placebo beverage.

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Cereal

CerealAleksandrova Karina/ShutterstockA bowl of your favorite flakes before bed could help you get better sleep, according to the National Sleep Foundation. The snack combines two components for getting some Zzzs: carbohydrates (from the cereal) and calcium (from the milk). Here are 8 more little daytime tweaks to help you sleep better tonight.

Chamomile tea

ChamomileMarina Shanti/ShutterstockSteeping a cup of stress-busting chamomile tea will help you sleep. According to researchers, drinking the tea is associated with an increase of glycine, a chemical that relaxes nerves and muscles and acts as a mild sedative. Here are 9 more drinks that help you sleep—and 4 that keep you awake.

Passionfruit Tea

Passion-teaFoxys Forest Manufacture/ShutterstockAn Australian study found that drinking a cup of passionfruit tea one hour before bed helped people sleep more soundly. Researchers believe that Harman alkaloids—chemicals found in high levels in the flower—act on your nervous system to make you tired. Don't miss these other 11 home remedies for insomnia.

Honey

HoneyAfrica Studio/ShutterstockThe natural sugar found in honey slightly raises insulin and allows tryptophan to enter the brain more easily, according to nutritionist Lindsey Duncan on DrOz.com. A spoonful before bed or mixed with chamomile tea could give you a more restful sleep. Just make sure to stop these 12 innocent habits that ruin your sleep quality.

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Kale

KaleVICUSCHKA/ShutterstockGreen leafy vegetables like kale are loaded with calcium, which helps the brain use tryptophan to manufacture melatonin. Spinach and mustard greens are other good options. Check out these other 9 reasons to start eating more spinach.

Shrimp and Lobster

LobsterAlexander Raths/ShutterstockAnother good source of tryptophan, crustaceans like shrimp (which is one of 13 superfoods every woman should eat) or lobster may bring on an easier sleep. These 10 facts about seafood will change how you think about your meal.

Hummus

HummusSebastiana/ShutterstockChickpeas are also a good source of tryptophan, so a light lunch of hummus and whole-grain crackers (to help the tryptophan reach the brain), could be a good way to head into an afternoon nap. Don't miss these other 11 tricks for a more restful nap.

Elk

ElkSea Wave/ShutterstockThis game meat has nearly twice more tryptophan than turkey breast, meaning you’re much more likely to nod off after eating it, especially with a side of carbohydrates to help the tryptophan reach the brain. Here are 18 other food combinations that are healthier when eaten together.

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