November 16, 2022
If you're like most people, you've probably woken up in the middle of the night and found it really difficult to doze off again.
Fortunately, there are foods and beverages that can help you fall back asleep! So, next time you wake up in the middle of the night, treat yourself to one of these better-for-you midnight snacks.
It seems too simple to be true, but a glass of warm milk can be just as effective at helping adults fall back asleep as it is for a baby. Milk contains tryptophan, which is the same ingredient in turkey that makes you sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner. A glass may be just enough to get you back to dreamland.
These might seem like odd foods to group together at first, but both are exceptionally high in the hormone melatonin, which tells your body it’s time for sleep. Bananas are also high in magnesium, a nutrient that can help promote sleep. A handful of almonds, a banana, or even something that combines the two will satisfy a late-night craving while also making you feel tired again.
Many kinds of herbal tea have benefits that can help you sleep. Chamomile tea has a sedating effect, and it also can improve the quality of your sleep once you doze off. Passionflower tea contains amino acids that lower the activity taking place in your central nervous system, making it easier to relax. Valerian root tea and magnolia bark tea can also reduce the amount of time it takes to fall back asleep.
If you have a bag of tart cherries in the pantry or a bottle of cherry juice in the fridge, you’re in luck. Tart cherries are packed with both tryptophan and melatonin. If you go with the juice, just be sure to get a bottle with no added sugars.
Like bananas, sunflower and pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium. They also are a natural source of tryptophan. A handful of seeds at 2 a.m. can quickly satisfy a late-night bout of hunger but is still light enough that it won’t be too difficult for your body to digest.
There are also some things you’ll want to avoid when you wake up at night. Always steer clear of alcohol; a nightcap might seem like a good way to get you back to bed, but it disrupts your brainwaves and actually makes your quality of sleep worse. Any foods or beverages containing sugar, caffeine, or other stimulants are also best to avoid.
Remember that it’s not just the snacks you choose that matter, but the quantity, too. Consuming a ton of food in the middle of the night — even the ones on this list — will cause your body to begin the digestion process and possibly keep you up even longer. Limit yourself to a snack just large enough to sate your hunger and get back to bed quickly. You can always start the next morning with a big, healthy breakfast!