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13 Foods to Help You Sleep Like a Baby

We all know energy drinks, such as coffee and chocolate help keep us up at night, which is why you should never consume them after about 6 p.m. But did you know that some foods have been shown in studies to actually help you get to sleep?

Courtesy of Reader’s Digest, here are the Top-13 foods you should add to your diet if you’re having trouble sleeping.

Cheese and Crackers

In the old days, people used to say that warm milk would help you get to sleep. But truth be told, almost any dairy product can help you get a good night’s rest. Calcium (found in cheese, yogurt, milk, etc.) helps the brain use the tryptophan found in dairy to manufacture sleep-triggering melatonin.


Walnuts are a good source of tryptophan, a sleep-enhancing amino acid that helps make serotonin and melatonin. These two chemicals work to setup your sleep/wake cycles. Additionally, University of Texas researchers found that walnuts contain their own source of melatonin, which may help you fall asleep faster.


A salad with dinner can speed up your bedtime since lettuce contains
lactucarium, which has some sedative properties and affects on the brain, which are curiously similar to opium. You can also try this brew from the book Stealth Health: Simmer three to four large lettuce leaves in a cup of water for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, add two sprigs of mint, and sip just before you go to bed.


Almonds are rich in magnesium, a mineral that research suggests is needed for quality sleep. A study published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine found that when the body’s magnesium levels are too low, it makes it harder to stay asleep.

Tuna, Halibut & Salmon

Fish such as tuna, halibut, and salmon are high in vitamin B6 (a vitamin that is key for your body to make melatonin and serotonin). Other foods high in B6 include raw garlic and pistachio nuts.


According to an Australian study, white rice has a high glycemic index, so eating it will significantly slash the time it takes you to fall asleep. In particular, jasmine rice has been shown to bring on shut-eye faster. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate a meal that included jasmine rice fell asleep faster than when they ate other rice types.

Cherry Juice

According to researchers from Pennsylvania and Rochester Uiversities, a glass of cherry juice could make you fall asleep faster. Cherries, particularly tart cherries, naturally boost levels of melatonin. In the study, subjects who drank cherry juice experienced some
improvement with their insomnia symptoms.

Chamomile Tea

Steeping a cup of chamomile tea will help you sleep. Research suggests, drinking the tea is associated with an increase of glycine, a chemical that relaxes nerves and muscles and acts like a mild sedative.

Passionfruit Tea

An Australian study found that drinking a cup of passionfruit tea one hour before bed helped people sleep more soundly. It is believed that the Harman alkaloids(chemicals found in high levels in the fruit) act on your nervous system to make you tired.


The natural sugar found in honey slightly raises insulin and allows tryptophan to enter the brain more easily, this is according to nutritionist Lindsey Duncan, A spoonful before bed or mixed with chamomile tea has been shown to give some people a more restful sleep.


This wild game meat, which is fairly easy to find here in Alberta, has nearly twice the tryptophan of turkey breast meat. This means you’re much more likely to nod off after eating elk, especially with a side of carbohydrates like potatoes to help the tryptophan reach the brain.


Chickpeas are also a good source of tryptophan, so a light lunch of hummus and whole-grain crackers (to help the tryptophan reach the brain), could be a good way to head into an afternoon nap.


Green leafy vegetables like kale are loaded with calcium, which helps the brain use tryptophan to manufacture melatonin. Spinach and mustard greens are other good options.

Sleepytime Salmon Salad

Ingredients (1 serving)
1 Medium-sized Salmon Fillet
2 1/2 Cups of Leaf Lettuce
1/2 Cup of Kale
1/2 Cup of Cherry Tomatoes
1/3 Cup of Diced Cucumbers
1/3 Cup of Chickpeas
Goat Cheese (to taste)
Sliced Almonds (to taste)
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
30 ml Balsamic Vinegar
100 ml Olive Oil
1/4 of a Shallot – finely chopped
15 ml Dijon Mustard
1 Garlic Clove (minced)
30 ml Cherry juice

– Pre-heat the oven to 350°C
– Place the Salmon in a baking dish and lightly season with salt & pepper
– Bake for about 20 minutes, let cool and slice into one inch strips and remove skin

– In a bowl, toss lettuce and kale and place on a plate
– Add cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, chickpeas, goat cheese, almonds and salmon

– In a bottle, combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil, shallot, dijon mustard, garlic and cherry juice, and shake the mixture well – refrigerate what is not used