Foods That Make You Sleepy

Saleem Rana
Foods that can induce sleep

If you feel too restless to go to bed, you have a choice of a wide variety of natural foods that will help you fall asleep. These foods will also help you if you wake up in the middle of the night and find it hard to go back to sleep. Foods that make you sleepy are often rich in L-Tryptophan, an amino acid that acts as a natural sedative.

Sleep-Inducing Foods

The right food before bed can serve as a natural sleep aid.

Fruits & Vegetables

Bananas are an excellent food to eat to feel sleepy. They contain magnesium and potassium, both naturally-occurring muscle relaxants, as well as sleep-inducing carbs and L-Tryptophan. According to Med-Health.net, other fruits and vegetables high in L-Tryptophan include:

Fruits:

  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Avocados
  • Pineapples
  • Peaches

Vegetables:

  • Spinach
  • Mustard greens
  • Asparagus
  • Eggplant
  • Winter squash
  • Green peas
  • Kelp
  • Broccoli
  • Onions
  • Tomatoes
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Mushrooms
  • Cucumbers

Herbs

Drinking chamomile tea before bed has long been considered a good way to promote sleep, but chamomile isn't the only herb that can help you sleep. According to the Bastyr Center for Natural Health, one of the biggest natural health centers in the Northwest, a number of other herbs can also promote sleep. These herbs include:

  • Hops
  • Lavender
  • Lemon balm
  • Oat straw
  • Passionflower
  • Skullcap
  • Valerian
  • Verbena

Starches

Health.com recommends sweet potatoes for sleep because they provide sleep-inducing complex carbohydrates and potassium, a mineral that relaxes muscles. Potassium can also be found in regular potatoes, which should be baked with the skin on.

Legumes

According to Med-Health.net, legumes are rich in L-Tryptophan. Examples of legumes that are rich in the sleep-inducing amino acid include:

  • Mung bean
  • Soybeans
  • Kidney beans
  • Lima beans
  • Chickpeas

Nuts and Seeds

Almonds are an excellent choice for improved sleep quality because they are rich in magnesium, a natural muscle relaxant. The University of Texas Health Science Center found that walnuts are rich in melatonin.

Nuts and seeds rich in L-Tryptophan and magnesium include:

  • Cashews
  • Chia
  • Sunflower seeds

Grains

While oatmeal is traditionally considered a breakfast food, a bowl of oatmeal before bed is a great way to relax before you go to bed. Scottish Oatmeal contains melatonin, a hormone that prepares your body to rest.

Med-Health.net indicates that the following grains are rich in L-Tryptophan:

  • Barley
  • Brown rice
  • Red rice
  • Corn
  • Wheat

Dairy and Egg

Parents have long since known that a cup of warm milk and honey will help their restless child calm down and go to bed. Milk contains calcium and this helps the brain absorb the L-Tryptophan. Warming milk adds a soothing touch because it brings back happy childhood memories. Besides cow milk, you can try goat milk or soy milk. Ice cream, too, has been shown to be sleep-inducing, although this might not be very good for your waistline.

Other dairy products rich in L-Tryptophan include:

  • Cheese
  • Yogurt

Meat, Poultry and Fish

When it comes to meats that induce sleepiness, turkey is often considered first because of how sleepy people feel after a Thanksgiving dinner. Although this high level of sleepiness can be attributed to overeating, turkey is also rich in L-Tryptophan.

L-Tryptophan can also be found in the following foods:

  • Chicken
  • Cod
  • Halibut
  • Lamb
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Shrimp
  • Tuna
  • Venison

One way to consume these foods is to wrap up the meat, poultry or fish in a wheat sandwich since wheat, as mentioned earlier, has L-Tryptophan as well.

Why Does L-Tryptophan Make you Drowsy?

The main ingredient in most of the sleep-inducing foods is L-Tryptophan, which is one of the ten essential amino acids the body cannot make on its own, but that rather have to be introduced through food. There is considerable research on L-Tryptophan to establish that it improves sleep quality.

L-Tryptophan is also instrumental in the creation of melatonin and serotonin, two neurotransmitters necessary for good sleep. These two hormones work like a tag team; melatonin regulates your body's circadian rhythm while serotonin informs your brain that it's time to sleep. The result can be an easier time falling asleep.

Foods That Make You Sleepy