Lifestyle

Best Late-Night Snacks and Foods That Will Improve Sleep Quality

39. Pumpkin Seeds Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, are rich in so many necessary vitamins and minerals we need. In addition to a high tryptophan level, pumpkin… Trista - May 30, 2022
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39. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, are rich in so many necessary vitamins and minerals we need. In addition to a high tryptophan level, pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium and zinc, which can increase serotonin levels. Increasing your magnesium intake can help regulate your sleep cycle, promote healthy sleep patterns, and leave you feeling well rested when you wake up! Make sure to monitor how many seeds you eat; they are fatty and can be high in sodium.

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38. Edamame

Edamame beans, or soy beans, are high in isoflavones, which increase serotonin production. Consuming two or more servings of soy per day can improve the quality of your sleep. Try cooking them up with garlic and pepper, or snack on them with a small sprinkle of salt (but do not overdo it!). They are rich in fiber and protein too, so they are filling and should quiet the growling in your stomach when you need a snack.

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37. Strawberries

Yummy – strawberries! Strawberries are almost universally loved (except if you have an allergy – sorry). They are visually appealing, but their benefits don’t stop there. Strawberries contain vitamin C and melatonin, both of which promote healthy sleep. They also contain antioxidants that fight stress and we all know that de-stressing is the first step to a good night’s sleep.

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36. Applesauce

Are you a big fan of this snack? Applesauce seems to be the kind of food that elicits strong responses. People either hate it or love it. If you are in the applesauce-loving camp, try it with some cinnamon and walnuts for a late-night snack. Eating applesauce reduces orexin, which is a neurotransmitter responsible for keeping our bodies alert. Keep reading for more of the best late-night snacks that will help improve your sleep quality.

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35. Almond Butter

If nuts are helpful to our sleep quality, then it stands to reason that nut butters would be as well. Almond butter is a great nut butter that can lower heart disease risk and regulate sleep. It is high in magnesium, tryptophan, potassium, and vitamin B! You should try some almond butter asap and you just might see some improvements within your quality night’s sleep.

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34. Lemon Balm

Talk about a magic herb! This mint-related herb is so versatile: it can be added into marinades, baked into desserts, or dried and steeped for tea. It is also medically versatile: it is believed to benefit the digestive system, the nervous system, and even the liver. In the 14th century, Carmelite nuns even used it to make an alcoholic tonic! Lemon balm is known by other names like bee balm, cure-all, dropsy plant, honey plant, sweet balm, Sweet Mary, Toronjil, and Xiang Feng Cao. Today, for those that struggle with sleep, lemon balm can increase GABA and stimulate serotonin production.

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33. Green Tea

Green tea is jam-packed with beneficial plant compounds, most importantly an amino acid called theanine. Theanine is thought to promote relaxation and reduce stress, which is critical for a good night’s sleep. The key to green tea is drinking a few cups throughout the day instead of right  before bed, as it does contain a low level of caffeine, which might keep you up instead of helping you sleep!

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32. Tarragon

Tarragon can provide a sedative effect and regulate sleep patterns, though the study that concluded these results was small and has not been done on humans. Thankfully, tarragon is a delicious herb and can be a great addition to some recipes, so don’t be afraid to dabble while more studies are conducted! Keep reading for more late-night snacks that will improve your sleep quality.

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31. Sesame Seeds

These golden little seeds are treasure troves of flavor and nutrients. They are used all over the world and are rich in protein, vitamins B, A, and E, fiber, iron, magnesium, calcium, manganese, copper, and zinc, just to name a few! They are also abundant in tryptophan, magnesium, and calcium, all of which lead to the production of serotonin, melatonin, and the betterment of our sleep quality. Try adding sesame seeds to salads, soups, or as a garnish to veggies, or use sesame oil in your meals!

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30. Spinach

This leafy green veggie is a nutrient machine. Tryptophan, of course, has a starring role alongside vitamins A, B6, C, K, iron, folate, and potassium. Try sauteeing spinach with garlic and olive oil for a delicious side dish, or add it to smoothies for a delicious and nutritious snack. Keep reading for more details about the best late-night snacks so you can get a good night’s rest.

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29. Avocado

Avocados are a fantastic source of potassium, which is great for improving sleep efficiency and lessening the number of times you might wake up during the night. It also contains a high quantity of magnesium, which keeps our body’s sleep-wake cycle in sync. Sprinkle some lemon juice on half an avocado, salt and pepper to taste, and you’ve got a great spread to go on your whole grain toast!

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28. Turkey

This Thanksgiving classic is full of tryptophan – no wonder everyone wants to fall asleep after a Thanksgiving dinner! As we’ve mentioned before, carbohydrates also lead to sleepiness, so a full Thanksgiving feast is bound to cause some major couch naps. Feel free to continue eating this yummy and sleep-inducing snack well after the holiday comes and goes, especially closer to bedtime so you can catch some zzz’s.

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27. Tuna

Tuna is loaded with vitamin B6, which helps your body produce melatonin, and selenium, which is an important antioxidant. Anyone who may have a deficiency may notice it is harder to fall asleep than those with normal selenium levels, so tuna is a great meal to help regulate that and improve sleep! Keep reading to get the best grocery list possible if you have problems sleeping.

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26. Figs

Have you ever tasted a fig before? They might not be popular, but they are healthy. You may not associate snacking on figs with catching 40 winks, but these sweet treats are packed with potassium, magnesium, calcium, and iron, which help with blood flow and muscle contraction. These minerals are all linked to improving both the quality and length of sleep, so you can indulge in a few bites and drift off to la-la-land.  

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25. Protein Shakes

If you happen to be someone who exercises in the evening before bed, you might be interested in drinking a protein shake before going to sleep. Not only can it be refreshing and filling, but it’s definitely much healthier for you than cookies or chips, especially before bed. Research shows that consuming protein before bed is absorbed by the body better in those who exercise at night, as well. Furthermore, protein consumption before bed may help to improve skeletal muscle following any resistance-type exercise. 

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24. Grapes

Not many people know that research indicates that grape-related foods, such as grape juice and wine grapes, are a natural source of melatonin. People often refer to melatonin as the sleep hormone. Why? Because melatonin is a natural hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain. Having that little extra melatonin boost helps you fall asleep a bit more easily. Add some grapes and darkness, which actually prompts the pineal gland to start producing melatonin, to your nighttime routine, and you are sure to have a better night’s sleep. Keep reading for the best late-night snacks and foods that can help improve your sleep quality.

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23. Bananas

If you have cramps, you should eat a banana. That’s because magnesium and potassium are great for helping your muscles relax. Luckily, bananas have tons of both of these nutrients. Having your muscles relaxed at bedtime can help to improve your sleep. Do  you want to spice it up a bit and eat more than just a plain banana? You can try it with peanut butter. Peanuts contain tryptophan, which is an amino acid that turns into serotonin in the brain. That is a precursor to melatonin. When you eat peanut butter and bananas together, the carbs from the banana can increase the tryptophan. As a result, it can increase your ability to sleep. 

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22. Kiwis

Not only are kiwis funny looking out on the outside and delicious on the inside, but they have tons of both vitamins C and E. These vitamins can help with both boosting our mood but also with smoothing out aging skin. Kiwis also contain several other compounds, such as magnesium, potassium, and melatonin. These natural ingredients are in calming supplements due to their sleep-promoting abilities. We all know that eating any foods too close to our bedtime can adversely affect our metabolism and lead to weight gain. Even if you just eat one kiwi before going to sleep, it should still be able to deliver plenty of soothing effects to your body. 

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21. Yogurt

There are different types of yogurts to choose from at the grocery store. So, it’s important to remember the nutrients that certain ones provide since some are better during the day than at night. A study discovered that there is a connection between gastrointestinal ailments and sleep. Some difficulties include taking longer than normal to fall asleep, repeatedly waking up throughout the night, and being excessively tired during the day. Because yogurt contains live culture that enhances your gut microflora, it helps to improve symptoms caused by digestive conditions. Yogurt also features a peptide that enhances the production of mucin, a critical component when it comes to the mucus layer that is not only lining the intestine but also protecting it from any form of harm. So the next time you are having sleeping issues due to your digestive system, consider eating some yogurt before going to bed. 

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20. Oatmeal

A snack that will fill you up and help promote sleep sounds like a great idea, right? If you have eaten oatmeal, you will know how filling it can be. Oatmeal is a good choice when it comes to a snack before bedtime. This is because whole grain oats encourage the production of insulin, which helps your neural pathways receive tryptophan, which is, as stated above, an amino acid that acts as a sedative to the brain. They are also high in melatonin and stress-reducing B6. Add milk and bananas to your bowl if you really want to step up your sleep-inducing oatmeal snack. It’s the perfect recipe that makes up nature’s own sedative. Keep reading for the best late-night snacks and foods that can help improve your sleep quality.

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19. Honey

Honey can add so much sweet flavor to any dish while giving you benefits as you eat it. Raw and unfiltered honey can actually soothe your throat, hydrate your skin, and help heal wounds. Not only that, but when eaten just before going to bed, raw honey can help you get a good night’s sleep. Honey helps your brain release melatonin, and we know how vital melatonin is when it comes to sleep. The melatonin is due to honey’s sugar that spikes insulin levels, which then releases tryptophan, becoming serotonin, resulting in melatonin. Raw honey provides fuel to your brain throughout the night as you sleep. Low levels of glycogen tell your brain that it’s time to eat, but honey helps restock your liver’s glycogen. If you haven’t eaten anything in several hours before bed, you may find yourself waking up in the middle of the night from hunger. But if you were to consume a spoonful of honey before bed, you’d find yourself sleeping throughout the night without waking up hungry. 

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18. Sweet Potatoes

Potatoes are probably one of the last things you would think of when it comes to a bedtime snack unless it is potato chips. You may want to think again when it comes to spuds, sweet potatoes, that is, and late-night snacking. They will be a gamechanger if you find that you struggle with sleep. This is due to their unique combination of nutrients that help prevent blood sugars from rapidly fluctuating, as well as support the production of sleep-promoting hormones and neurotransmitters. The nutrients make them a great tryptophan food for sleep. These potatoes also have just the right balance of nutrients like vitamin B6 and potassium to stimulate the production of serotonin and melatonin to help promote a good night’s sleep. 

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17. Eggs

When you consume foods right before bed high in fat and carbs and low in protein, you’re not doing yourself and your sleep any favors. That’s because snacks high in carbs and fat cause blood sugar spikes, which can wake you up throughout the night. You may not think of eggs as a bedtime snack, but you might want to switch it up and add eating an egg into your bedtime routine. Eggs are a great source of protein, which can help you snooze more deeply and longer. Six grams of protein is the perfect amount to keep your blood sugar balanced throughout the night, and that’s actually how many grams are also in one egg. They are also gentle on your digestive system. Both the yolk and the whites of an egg also contain other nutrients and antioxidants that help to improve your sleep quality.  

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16. Almonds

Not only are almonds crunchy, tasty, and can be filling, but eating a handful may also help boost your sleep quality. Along with several other types of nuts, almonds are also a source of melatonin, the sleep-regulating hormone. This popular nut is also an excellent source of magnesium, which, when consuming adequate amounts of this nutrient, can help to improve sleep, too. This sleeping trick is beneficial for those who have insomnia. It’s thought that magnesium can help aid sleep due to its ability to reduce inflammation in the body. Doctors suggest that magnesium may also help reduce the stress hormone cortisol levels, which can interrupt sleep. 

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15. Cherry Juice

Studies reveal that tart cherry juice can actually help improve your sleep quality and duration. Plus, it can help reduce the need for taking a nap during the day. A study found that adults who drank just two one-ounce servings of cherry juice per day experienced an increase in their sleep efficiency and a 39-minute increase in average sleep duration. There were 20 participants in this study for seven days. They would drink cherry juice twice a day on each of the seven days, drinking one when they first woke up and the second before going to bed. Some received a drink that contained 1 ounce of tart cherry juice with 1 pint of water, while others received a placebo drink. Those who received the cherry juice drink slept longer, napped less, and spent more of their time in bed asleep. Others who received the placebo drink didn’t show any changes in their sleep habits. Those who drank the juice showed an increase in their melatonin levels, indicating that drinking this juice boosts the body’s own melatonin levels. 

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14. Kale

You may not think of eating some leafy greens before bed, and crawling into bed with a bowl of salad sounds a bit silly. As popular as kale continues to be in grocery stores when it comes to greens, it’s not as known to the public about it also being good for your sleep. Doctors tout this vegetable as one of the most nutrient-packed foods on the planet. Kale has tons of vitamins and minerals that help support health in general, including your sleep. Just one cup of kale chopped up contains 10% RDI of vitamin B6, plus lots of calcium, potassium, and magnesium, which can help with sleep quality, as well. In addition to those nutrients that help support sleep, kale also contains massive amounts of vitamins A, C, and K, and even small amounts of omega 3s and iron. 

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13. Popcorn

Eating snacks that are high in calories, such as candy bars and chips at night, isn’t such a good idea if you haven’t figured that out already. The issue with eating these types of foods stems from the way the body processes them overnight. Eating popcorn before bed isn’t necessarily a bad idea, though. If you are going to eat it before going to bed, you should keep your portion small. It would be best if you avoided toppings that have high-calorie content. Try to buy the popcorn that has low-fat content, and avoid the ones with added sugars. Your best bet for the healthiest popcorn to eat before bed is when you cook it at home, over the stove. Store-bought packets have loads of extra sugars and fats designed to make the food taste better. However, these additional ingredients will eventually get in the way of your sleep. 

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12. Hummus

Do you find yourself craving a salty snack near bedtime but not really feeling popcorn? One satisfying and even healthy snack is hummus. Its main ingredient is garbanzo beans, which are legumes rich in protein and fiber that researchers link to benefits to your health. These health benefits hummus has to offer include reducing blood sugar, which can help with sleep quality and blood clots. Eating it can help keep your weight in check, as well. Looking for something both salty and crunchy? Pair this dip with pretzels or an even healthier option, carrots or peppers. Keep reading for the best late-night snacks and foods that can help improve your sleep quality.

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11. Pineapple

As discussed above, when consuming melatonin, there may be an increase in the concentration of melatonin in your blood. Now, this hormone doesn’t just magically make you feel sleepy. However, it can help reset your circadian rhythm, which doctors also refer to as your 24-hour wake and sleep cycle. Pineapple has tons of melatonin, so munching on some before bed could help you sleep better and wake up feeling more rested. The increase in the concentration of melatonin made by the pineapple signals your body that it’s time for sleep. 

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10. Sunflower Seeds

Who at night thinks to themselves, “I’m hungry, I want to eat some sunflowers before going to bed…”? It doesn’t sound like the usual bedtime snack for most of us, but you might want to change your mind about that. Sunflower seeds are rich in tryptophan. As you may have read above, tryptophan is a chemical that promotes a better night’s sleep. When you eat food that contains this protein, it converts into serotonin once it reaches the brain. There are plenty of different flavors that sunflowers come in, too. So you won’t have to settle for just plain or salty seeds if you’d prefer something with more flavor. 

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9. Peanut Butter

Most people know that peanut butter is healthier than chocolate toppings or dips. Eating peanut butter before bed, whether it’s just a spoonful of it or it’s on a slice of toast, is actually a good idea if you want a snack before sleeping. That’s because it is a good source of both healthy fats and protein, which can help you to stay full throughout the night. In turn, this helps keep you from waking up feeling hungry. Peanuts are monounsaturated fats, which help reduce the risk of heart disease. Not only that, but this nut also contains several minerals, including iron, phosphorus, manganese, and magnesium, which can help promote good sleep. They are also a good source of the amino acid tryptophan. The body requires tryptophan to produce two crucial sleep hormones, melatonin and serotonin, so consuming food that contains this protein before bed is a good idea. 

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8. Lentils

Lentils are probably the last thing you think about eating as a snack, no matter what time of the day it is, let alone right before bed. It’s safe to say that eating them before going to sleep could be a good idea. They contain a high source of magnesium, a natural muscle relaxant, and calcium that helps make melatonin from tryptophan in the brain. Lentils also contain folate, which helps with melatonin metabolism and many other nutrients. Besides containing these things, they also have a high amount of starchy carbohydrates and proteins that help with satiety and increase resting metabolic rate, which can help with weight loss. Keep reading for the best late-night snacks and foods that can help improve your sleep quality.

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7. Cheese

A study found that cheese is actually perfectly fine and maybe even good to consume before bed. Researchers explored how cheese influences sleep and dreaming. They found that the impact cheese had on sleep was positive with regard to dreams, instead of adverse effects, which some believe happens if we eat a meal and go to sleep right after. The majority of those who participated in this study claimed to have positive results from consuming cheese just before sleeping. Researchers concluded that cheese does, in fact, promote good sleep. It also contains tryptophan, which we now know is an essential amino acid when it comes to sleeping. 

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6. Chickpeas

Chickpeas are another food many of us don’t think about when it comes to bedtime snacking. However, if you do not want to snack on them before bed, you can always add them to your dinner recipe. With complex carbs, eating chickpeas can actually help our bodies produce serotonin. While many of us may associate serotonin more with moods and how we feel, the neurotransmitter actually converts to melatonin in the brain’s pineal gland. Research shows that low levels of serotonin can actually prevent us from falling asleep and staying asleep. Chickpeas also contain high levels of magnesium. Magnesium also plays a role in more than 300 diverse biochemical reactions in the body, which control everything from regulating blood pressure and blood sugar and from energy production to sleep.

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5. Lettuce Water

We all know what lettuce is, but have you ever heard of lettuce water? That’s right; you make it the same as you would tea by steeping the leaves of lettuce in hot water. After making your drink, remove the wilted lettuce, and bam! Lettuce water! If you aren’t fond of the taste or want to add a little something more for flavor, add peppermint to the tea for a more soothing taste. This sleeping trick may work because lettuce contains something called lactucarium, which can make you feel sleepy. Lactucarium has a similar structure to opium and even has some sedative properties as well. However, a scientist states you would have to drink quite a bit of lettuce water to really have much of an effect. 

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4. Pistachios

Although pistachios have often been touted as a natural sleep aid, thanks to the melatonin that they contain, there have only been two studies done that evaluated, specifically, the melatonin content of pistachios. One study in 2014 estimated that a 3.5-ounce serving, or 100 grams, of pistachios that were shelled contained 23 mg of melatonin. The American Pistachio Growers performed another study and measured the amount of melatonin in a pistachio using two methods. They reported that both raw and roasted pistachios contained 0.0034-0.066 mg of melatonin per serving. Keep reading for the best late-night snacks and foods that can help improve your sleep quality.

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3. Salmon

Besides being delicious, salmon also has some health benefits to offer. That includes all of the benefits that omega-three fatty acids offer since salmon is an excellent source of it. These healthy fats deliver a significant number of health benefits, including lowering inflammation, boosting brain function, and elevating your mood. Omega 3s are polyunsaturated fatty acids, also known as essential fats, and play an essential role in cell function. Since your body can’t produce this type of fat, you must get your source from foods and supplements. A more powerful benefit omega 3s have to offer the body is their ability to reduce inflammation. Experts link it to a range of diseases, from cardiovascular disease to cancer. Furthermore, they discovered that omega 3s might improve sleep quality and quantity in adults. By eating salmon, even at dinnertime rather than at bedtime, you can be helping to improve your sleep quality.

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2. Rice

Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, research suggests that eating about 2 ½ cups of white rice 4 hours before going to sleep could actually help you fall asleep faster than you would without consuming anything before bed. That’s a lot of rice, though, and eating that much right before bed could adversely affect your metabolism, causing you to gain weight over time. The good news? You don’t have to eat that much to impact your body positively. Try even eating just a tiny amount of carbs. You may still find that to be helpful. This sleep trick could be because your brain uses carbs to make serotonin, promoting feelings of relaxation and calmness. 

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1. Collard Greens

Collard greens are another food that not many, if anyone, would really think of eating as a bedtime snack. However, thanks to the choline content in them, you may want to reconsider eating a bowl of fresh collard greens before going to sleep. You might be able to help yourself sleep and function more effectively if you were to maintain a diet that contains a lot of this vegetable. Choline, a neurotransmitter, aids in improving your sleep, strengthening your memory, and boosting your mood. Another benefit is that choline contains folate. That ingredient is a potential treatment for depression for those looking for a more natural therapy versus a medication. 

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