Health & Wellness

5 foods to help you sleep better

Getting your head to hit the pillow is easy. But for a whole lot of us, getting some real quality zzz’s is another story. Sometimes, it can actually feel like a challenge. Exercise, meditation and doing a pre-bedtime digital detox all help, but my best friend food can help, too. Here are some of my favorite eats for some serious shut eye.

1. Pineapple

The consumption of melatonin (a hormone found in a few foods, including pineapple) may increase the concentration of melatonin in your blood. Melatonin doesn’t magically make you feel sleepy, but it can help reset your circadian rhythm, also known as your 24-hour sleep and wake cycle. An increased concentration of melatonin signals your body that it’s time for sleep when it actually is.

Mix pineapple with cucumber and fresh lime for a bright salad, or even grill it and enjoy as an after dinner treat. If pineapple isn’t your thing, bananas also contain melatonin.

Mango, Pineapple, and Pomegranate Salad
Mango, pineapple and pomegranate salad
Rebekah Lowin / TODAY
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2. Tart cherries

This is another fruity option for increasing your melatonin levels. Studies have shown supplementing your diet with tart cherries may help improve sleep duration and even increase the quality of sleep. Tart cherries are also loaded with antioxidants and are famous for reducing inflammation and helping reduce pain associated with arthritis, which just may help you get better zzz’s.

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You can sip on a club soda with a couple ounces of juice, or buy tart cherries frozen and add to your morning smoothie. Snacking on them dried may not provide the same benefits.

3. Oatmeal

Oats contain more tryptophan per serving than turkey, the food famous for making you sleepy. This amino acid is converted to the feel-good and sleep-controlling hormone, serotonin. Not only that, but just one cup provides you with 60 milligrams of magnesium. If you have trouble quieting down your brain at night, a lack of magnesium might be to blame. Optimal magnesium levels are needed for getting your best sleep.

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Oatmeal is a great breakfast option because it keeps you full until lunch, but you can also have it as a makeshift dinner when you’re in a pinch. Top with chia seeds and berries for added nutrients and deliciousness.

4. Cashews

Leafy greens are often known for being high in magnesium, but cashews offer 89 milligrams of this mineral in just a quarter cup serving (that’s approximately a small handful). Research shows supplementation may improve the conditions of those suffering from insomnia, as magnesium helps you relax and reduce anxiety. It also may prevent early onset awakening.

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You can snack on cashews alone, or you can also eat them in butter form and spread onto just about anything, including baked sweet potatoes! Almonds and pumpkin seeds are also a great way to reap the benefits magnesium has to offer.

5. Chamomile tea

This ancient medicinal herb has long been used for its positive effect on sleep. It even has a mild sedative effect, meaning that sipping on a warm mug of chamomile tea before bed could improve your sleep. It also has an effect on reducing anxiety, and we all know that can affect our snoozing time. You can also mix steeped tea into a loaf of walnut bread, making it the perfect comforting, snooze-worthy indulgence.

For more tips on how to live a nutritious life, follow Keri on Instagram @nutritiouslifeofficial. Sign up for our One Small Thing newsletter for more diet and fitness advice!

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