How much sleep do you get a night? Did you know that we sleep one-third of our lives (or should)? According to the National Sleep Foundation, some of us may function best on nine hours of sleep per night, while others are more alert if they get under seven.
There are several factors to consider when determining what amount is best for you, such as how much caffeine you drink in a day (and when), what medications you take (if any), if you exercised today, and seeing what amount of sleep works best for you (experiment and see!).
To help figure it out, download and print the National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep Diary.
In the past, we’ve covered the types of food and drink you should not have in order to get a better night’s sleep.
Now, as a pretty regular insomniac, I researched what to eat and drink to get more restful Zzzzs.
As an added bonus, I tried all of the below, and put them in order from best to least effective (for me, anyway). You’ll have to try them all out for yourself to see which are most effective for you.
Yes, milk is as cliché as it gets regarding what drink will help you sleep. But, for good reason—it works. It works so well for me, in fact, that I no longer can drink it in the day (since it makes me sleepy).
What’s in milk that is so good for promoting sleep? Tryptophan, which is an amino acid that’s a precursor to serotonin and melatonin.
Though some experts do not believe in the sleep-promoting power of milk, as an insomniac, it works for me better than anything else.
Some experts say to combine milk with a carbohydrate in order for it to really take effect. Personally, I have it alone, warm, and then add vanilla and sugar for added fun and flavor (so it tastes like a vanilla milkshake). Yum!
Bananas contain many sleep-inducing ingredients, such as magnesium and potassium (both of which make your muscles relax), tryptophan (an amino acid which turns into serotonin, popular in turkey), and melatonin (a sleep hormone).
Some people combine bananas with other sleep-promoting foods for a more guaranteed-sleep effect.
For instance, you can combine bananas and milk in the blender or chop them up and add them to a bowl full of milk (I add a bit of sugar, too, and it tastes like banana cream pie… almost).
Yep, cherries have melatonin, so forget about buying a container of melatonin pills to sleep. Instead, hit up your local farmers’ market for some au natural melatonin, have some before bed, and there you go.
Plus, unlike the pill form, which can sometimes leave you feeling groggy the next morning, I felt more awake the morning after popping a few cherries in my mouth.
4. Healthy Cereal
Kashi or another kind of fortified cereal is a great carbohydrate choice to eat before bed—the key is having cereal with complex carbohydrates.
Quinoa and barley fall into the latter category, though I’ve never been inclined to whip up a batch before bed. I’d much prefer the bananas and milk method, or cereal and milk, for that matter.
5. Jasmine Rice
Once again, tryptophan and serotonin are at work here—when you have jasmine rice approximately four hours before bed, you’ll fall asleep twice as fast as someone who doesn’t, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
It has a high glycemic index, which means it is digested at a slower speed than other foods and glucose will enter the bloodstream gradually versus all at once, making you nice and tired.
Yes, you probably already knew that turkey is renowned for making people sleepy, due to the tryptophan in it. You can see an entire list here of foods that are high in tryptophan, like soy and crustaceans, if turkey’s not your thing.
7. Valerian Tea
You can either drink Valerian Tea or get an extract at a health food store or your local pharmacy. As a sedative herb, it’ll help you sleep.
However, as a tea, it made me have to get up halfway through the night to use the bathroom, which the milk didn’t do, so user be warned!
8. Hard-Boiled Eggs
By eating hard-boiled eggs before bed, you’ll give your body protein. This will not only help you fall asleep, but keep you asleep. Top 10 Home Remedies even suggests the perfect pre-sleep meal that combines many of the above into a succinct variety of food:
- Two slices of brown bread
- A hard-boiled egg
- A glass of warm milk
So, there you have it. By the time you’re done reading this, I hope you’re consuming some of the above and on your way to sleeping soundly.