Sleep is integral to good health. It supports healthy brain function which makes you more alert and focused during the day, is linked to emotional well-being, and boosts your immune system to keep any yucky germs at bay. Also, while you're sleeping, your body is in hardcore repair mode. Muscles get a chance to be replenished, and damaged cells and blood vessels are repaired.
Unfortunately, nearly 35% of Americans suffer from symptoms of insomnia. It’s time we take advantage of the natural foods and drinks that support better sleep. Of course eating a healthy, varied diet full of fresh fruits and veggies also helps. But getting a good night's sleep, magnifies every other effort towards living the best life possible.
All of that sounds great, right? Yes, but if you're struggling to get good quality sleep at night, you may be wondering—how can I get in on all those awesome sleep benefits?
5 Foods that help you sleep
Discover the top foods that help you sleep well and some simple changes to your night-time routine that can turn you into Sleeping Beauty.
Eating a light snack that combines protein and carbs is a great way to promote a restful night. These 6 foods have scientific research supporting their benefits for a good night of sleep.
Banana has a modest source of magnesium, which may help you get a good night’s sleep by relaxing your muscles.
Oatmeal is high in carbs and fiber, which is good for the belly in small amounts. Oats have been reported to induce drowsiness when consumed before bed, most likely due to the small levels of melatonin.
Chamomile tea contains the antioxidant, apigenin, which binds to certain receptors in your brain that may promote sleepiness. This explains why most sleep teas use chamomile.
Tart Cherry Juice
These cherries have above-average concentrations of melatonin, which is a hormone that helps promote healthy sleep. They're also lower in sugar than other cherries, which will keep your energy levels low so you can rest and recharge.
Almonds are an excellent source of magnesium and the hormone melatonin. Melatonin regulates your internal clock and signals your body to prepare for sleep.
Ion drops, trace minerals supplement, or a bath with epsom salts can helps with muscle relaxation, which promotes better sleep.
You can happily sip on our warmed Spiced Almond Milk, Lavender Tea Latte or a super healthy warm green smoothie. I've created a smoothie recipe specifically to help with falling asleep. Yes, it's legit! Give it a blend about an hour before you're ready to go to bed and drink it at a slow and steady pace (no chugging).
Our Spiced Almond Milk is such a sleep-helper, it's one of the favorite recipes included in our Fresh Start 21-Day Cleanse! Cleansing your body of unwanted toxins and developing new habits are incredibly helpful for getting a good night's sleep. In fact, one of the benefits our cleanse community reports most often is sleeping better. You can read more about our Fresh Start 21-Day Cleanses here :: Fresh Start 21-Day Cleanse.
Sleep Well SmoothieRate this Recipe Print Recipe
- Place uncooked oats in blender. Blend until finely ground.
- Add spinach, chamomile tea, cherry juice, bananas, and almond butter to the blender. Puree until smooth.
- Pour into a glass or mug and enjoy.
- If unsweetened tart red cherry juice can't be found, substitute with extra chamomile tea or water. Or use 1 cup frozen or fresh tart red cherries plus a little water.
- For a really soothing nighttime drink, this smoothie can also be served warmed up.
Healthy Habits to Sleep Well
Get a Buckwheat Sleep Pillow
Your pillow is there to support your neck and upper back, which is important to help maintain proper alignment of your spine while sleeping.
Finding a pillow I loved took some trial and error—but now I'm obsessed with my Beans 72 Organic Buckwheat Pillow . It helps support my neck and molds to my head, but doesn't collapse like foam pillows. It also doesn't hold heat. You can even sprinkle your pillow with lavender essential oil to help relax quickly.
I can't take credit for this Yogi Bedtime tea—Tim Ferris actually got me hooked on it. My husband and I drink it every single night in bed together (and have it on an Amazon subscription so we don’t run out). The mix of herbs in this particular blend is specifically designed to promote sleep. Chamomile, skullcap, and poppy all soothe the nervous system and may help reduce anxiety. As an added benefit, the mixture of vanilla and caramel tastes amazing!
Sleep with Ear Plugs
I got into using earplugs to sleep back when I was in college and my husband and I lived in a super noisy apartment. Even though we no longer have to deal with noisy neighbors and are happily settled on a quiet cul-de-sac in the suburbs, I still use earplugs to guarantee a good night of sleep. My husband occasionally snores (even though he denies it) and the train whistles toots, so the earplugs drown that out.
Limit caffeine after 2pm to sleep well
If you're a coffee lover like me, you've probably found yourself in the situation when your heart is racing at bedtime thanks to that 4 PM latte. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system which can disrupt sleep patterns when consumed too late in the day. I've even read articles from sleep experts that recommend cutting out caffeine completely from your diet. These days, I'm definitely more conscious of how much caffeine I'm consuming, and if I do have a cup of coffee, I make sure it's before 2 PM.
P.S. If you're looking for an awesome afternoon coffee alternative, I'm a huge fan of Dandy Blend tea. It is the closest thing I've found to coffee and is gluten-free + caffeine free!
Best time to sleep: 10pm-2am
Did you know the most regenerative sleep occurs between 10 PM - 2 AM? Yep. This is prime sleep time. I know for me, if I'm not in bed by 10 PM one of two things happen—either I'll wake up not feeling as rested because I didn't get a big chunk of "deep sleep time", or else I'll get a second wind and it's difficult for me to fall asleep at all. I try to make sure I am in bed by 9pm, which means my teeth are brushed and my face is washed. That gives me an hour to sip on my tea and watch a show with the hubby and shut my eyes around 10pm.
Invest in a heating/cooling mattress pad
The chiliPad is a hydro-powered mattress pad with a thermal regulating control unit. It allows me to set the mattress temperature to keep me cool all night. I set the temperature for 69° F and it will circulate water at that temperature to keep me cool. Ryan and I both use this (we each have our own temperature control) and have enjoyed staying cool all night long.
At first I thought it was a little indulgent, yet now we see the value in it. We sleep well (which is worth it right there), but we also don’t need to crank the air down so much at night.
Now, what works for me, may not work for you. I'd love to hear your personal experience with foods and sleeping tricks that work for you.