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Eat Your Way To Better Sleep: Bedtime Snacks

Bananas and almonds

The long, hot days of Summer can make it hard to get a good night’s sleep. Our bodies rely on cues, like darkness and a temperature dip, to know when it’s time to slumber. Those hints come later in the warm months, disturbing our natural sleep patterns.

But there are things you can do (like eat!) to put yourself into snooze mode. Having a light snack about an hour before bedtime is a great trick, according to the National Sleep Association. But you want that snack to feature foods that contain tryptophan (an amino acid that converts into relaxing chemicals like serotonin and melatonin), calcium or magnesium. Some herbs can also promote sleep.

Here are some soothing snacks to try:

A banana and a handful of almonds:

Bananas contain tryptophan and magnesium, which can make you drowsy. And some types of nuts, including almonds, are a good source of melatonin. Almonds are also an excellent source of magnesium. If you want a more substantial snack, try a cup of low-fat yogurt with that banana, and add some almonds on top.

A glass of tart cherry juice:

Tart cherries have a lot of melatonin, and studies indicate that it’s a good way to promote sleepiness. It’s also really good for you! An 8-ounce glass is packed with antioxidants and gives you 62% of your daily needs for vitamin A, 40% for vitamin C and 14% for manganese. Like all fruit juices, it has sugar (naturally occurring, not added) so it’s important to brush your teeth or rinse with water afterwards, to make sure your teeth aren’t covered in sugar while you sleep.

A mug of warm milk:

Milk contains tryptophan, calcium, and magnesium, a combo that is reportedly especially helpful for older folks who are struggling to get – and stay – asleep. A small serving of low-sugar, whole grain cereal with your milk brings soothing carbs into the mix too. If you don’t do dairy, a glass of nut milk like almond or cashew is a nice option.

Whole wheat toast:

The combo of complex carbs and magnesium makes for a soothing snack. Add a little protein, like peanut butter or a couple of slices of turkey, for even more snooze power.

A nice cup of herbal tea:

Try chamomile or passionflower tea, or look for a blend that contains one or both of these. You can add a teaspoon of honey, which contains tryptophan, if you like.

And for breakfast – chocolate!

Yes, really. Chocolate before bed will probably keep you up, but a recent study indicates that a little chocolate at breakfast time (five grams – so about one square of a regular size chocolate bar) may help you sleep better later that night.

Regardless of which treats you try, remember to brush your teeth afterwards, and visit your dentist twice a year for regular check-ups and cleanings to ensure you keep your smile healthy while you eat your way to better sleep! And if cost is an issue, consider a dental savings plan to save 10-60% on most procedures, every time you go.

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