Skimping on quality shuteye can take a toll on your health—but even if you hit the sheets in time to log your recommended 7 to 8 hours, you may yourself tossing and turning well into the night.
But no one likes to wake up feeling like they never turned the lights out in the first place. What gives?
Your late-night meal might have something to do with it. Wrap up your dinner two to three hours before you bunk down. Any later and your meal might not fully reach your gut, resulting in acid reflux, says Michael Grandner, Ph.D., director of the University of Arizona’s Sleep and Health Research Program.
If going to bed hungry messes with your rest, a snack of 150 calories, like a small bowl of cereal, should do the trick. Another option? Chow down on foods that will put you out. Here are five science-backed options that will help you snooze like a baby.
Cheddar Cheese Will Help You Sleep
Every Turkey Day, we hear about tryptophan. This amino acid helps your body make melatonin, causing drowsiness, says W. Christopher Winter, M.D., author of The Sleep Solution. Cheddar can have up to 60 percent more tryptophan than turkey.
Snack on four dice-size pieces of cheddar cheese in the evening.
Tart Cherry Juice Will Help You Sleep
Forget the booze, this is your new nightcap. People who drank an ounce each of Montmorency cherry juice in the morning and before bed for seven days averaged 40 minutes more sleep a night, a study in the European Journal of Nutrition found. Yep, it’s the melatonin.
Try Eden Foods tart cherry juice, which is 100 percent Montmorency cherries.
Jasmine Rice Will Help You Sleep
In an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, men who ate about 21 ounces of cooked jasmine rice with 7 ounces of vegetables four hours before bed fell asleep twice as fast as those who paired the vegetables with plain long-grain white rice.
Jasmine rice’s subtle fragrance is ideal for Indian curry, or you can use it in lettuce wraps.
Collard Greens Will Help You Sleep
Collards have nearly triple the calcium of kale per cooked cup. “Calcium helps tryptophan convert to melatonin,” Dr. Winter says. Saute collard greens with garlic as a side, or chop them and add to soups and pasta sauces while they’re cooking. (In need of some meal ideas? Check out the Metashred Diet from Men’s Health—it’s loaded with recipes that will making planning meals and healthier.)
The sleep benefit is the same no matter what time of day you eat ’em, so just eat ’em.
Black Walnuts Will Help You Sleep
Walnuts pack a one-two punch of tryptophan and melatonin, Dr. Winter says. He recommends less-common black walnuts over English walnuts because they contain more tryptophan. You can find them in the baking aisle or the bulk nut section or on Amazon here.
Have a handful with your cheese, or mix them into an evening bowl of oatmeal.
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