We know it's taboo to embrace the midnight munchies, but there are some foods that can help you sleep better at night. If you're having trouble hitting the hay, foods like cherries and dairy can be great company to a healthy bedtime routine. What makes these foods after-hours worthy is that they have or help to produce melatonin, a hormone necessary for a healthy sleep cycle. So, although sleep aids can be a quick fix (it's OK, admit it), consider these healthy bites before you turn down the sheets tonight.
- Cherries: Finish each night with a cherry on top! Several studies have shown that cherry juice can help you sleep. Because cherries contain the magic of melatonin, participants in one study saved an average of 17 minutes of wake time after going to sleep when drinking cherry juice daily. If you're not a fan of tart cherry juice, fresh and dried cherries will have a similar effect.
- Oats: Truth is, about 20 bowls of oatmeal contain enough melatonin as a supplement, but that doesn't mean a little won't help. Between the melatonin and the rise in blood sugar, which in turn triggers insulin production, having a (healthy) oatmeal cookie won't hurt. Wash it down with a glass of milk (we'll soon explain why), and you should be on your way to sweet dreams.
- Dairy products: Speaking of milk, dairy products contain high amounts of tryptophan that produce melatonin and calcium that helps that process take place. Have a cup of yogurt or sip on a warm glass of milk before bed to help you unwind and get a good night's sleep.
- Rice: Rice is bedtime gold because it contains both melatonin and tryptophan. Try eating a meal that includes rice like a stir-fry or casserole, but don't overindulge too close before bed, as a heavy meal could interfere with sleep.