Do you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or just getting enough good quality sleep that you feel rested when you wake? It appears you're not alone. Almost half of Americans report that "poor or insufficient sleep" affects their lives at least once a week, according to the National Sleep Foundation's Sleep Health Index.
While there are definitely steps you can take to get more zzzs (e.g. avoiding screen time before bed, setting the room to a cooer temp), it turns out a nighttime snack may be able to offer some relief as well. But not just any snack will do the trick: There are certain nutrients and foods that help you sleep, and we've pulled together five healthy snack recipes below to get you on your way.
Just keep these two things in mind: You probably want to avoid eating within three hours of bedtime to allow for proper digestion. And, per research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in November 2017, eating the bulk of your calories later in the day can lead to an increase in weight and body fat, so be sure to watch the portions of your late-night snack and balance it out with your intake earlier in the day.
1. Dark Chocolate Goji Berry Bark
What can't dark chocolate do? Thanks to its iron offerings (a 1.5-ounce serving provides about 20 percent of your daily value!), it may help you sleep longer and more soundly. A review study published in Public Health Nutrition in October 2016 found that an iron deficiency was linked to a shorter sleep cycle (less than five hours) and altered sleep stages.
Other sources of iron include fortified breakfast cereals, white beans, lentils, spinach and tofu. It can be easy to overdo it when it comes to chocolate so be sure to watch your portions (stick to one to two ounces).
2. Kiwi Yogurt Bowl
Kiwi is another food that helps you sleep. For an evening snack, you can enjoy the little green fruits on their own or as part of this Kiwi Yogurt Bowl. Either way, you may find yourself slumbering just a little longer. Researchers in a July 2011 study published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that eating two kiwifruit each night for four weeks led to better quality sleep. The researchers theorize that the high serotonin content in kiwis may play a part in getting more zzzs.
3. Crispy Roasted Chickpeas
Movie night before bed? Skip the popcorn and try these crunchy roasted chickpeas instead. Chickpeas, or garbanzo beans, are loaded with vitamin B6 which, according to a July 2018 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience Research, is crucial for making melatonin, a hormone that is mainly released at night and helps to synchronize circadian rhythms.
Chickpeas are one of the richest sources of vitamin B6 — a half-cup has about 27 percent of your daily needs. Another bonus? Chickpeas are also a source of iron.
4. Edamame Trail Mix
A glass of warm milk may have been the remedy when you were younger, but these days, your sleeping troubles may be better resolved by a glass of soymilk or even a handful of this trail mix.
It turns out, foods made with soy (like tofu, edamame and soymilk) may help you achieve a more peaceful slumber. According to December 2015 research published in Nutrition Journal, eating foods rich in isoflavones (a compound found in soy foods) was associated with better quality and longer duration of sleep.
5. Avocado Chocolate Mousse
This is a two-for-one with the dark chocolate and avocado combo, both of which are foods that help you sleep.
Avocados are rich in magnesium, and October 2016 research published in Public Health Nutrition found that adequate magnesium levels may determine how long you sleep and how you move through the stages of sleep. Dark chocolate comes into play because it's high in iron, and, as we stated before, a deficiency in this mineral can lead to poorer sleep.
- National Sleep Foundation:"Lack of Sleep is Affecting Americans, Finds the National Sleep Foundation"
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition:"Later Circadian Timing of Food Intake is Associated With Increased Body Fat"
- National Institutes of Healthy Office of Dietary Supplements:"Iron—Fact Sheet for Health Professionals"
- Public Health Nutrition: "The Relationship Between Micronutrient Status and Sleep Patterns: A Systematic Review"
- Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition:"Effect of Kiwifruit Consumption on Sleep Quality in Adults With Sleep Problems"
- Journal of Neuroscience Research:"The Neuroprotective Role of Melatonin in Neurological Disorders"
- USDA Nutrient Database:"Chickpeas, Canned"
- Nutrition Journal:"Relationship Between Daily Isoflavone Intake and Sleep in Japanese Adults: A Cross-Sectional Study"