The Best Foods for Deep Sleep

Nonfat Popcorn

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The carbohydrates in nonfat popcorn help bring the amino acid tryptophan into your brain, where it’s used to make a sleep-inducing neurotransmitter called serotonin. Since eating a heavy meal within two hours of bedtime can keep you awake, low-calorie popcorn (just 93 calories in three cups popped) is a great late-night snack. Choose plain, fat-free popcorn and jazz it up with some curry powder.


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Halibut is packed with two building blocks for better sleep: tryptophan and vitamin B6, which has a mild flavor and meaty texture that appeals to finicky seafood eaters. Other foods high in tryptophan include poultry, beef, soybeans, milk, cheese, yogurt, nuts, and eggs. (“Milk” can mean a lot of different things these days. Check out this guide to find the best milk for you.)

Mango Lassi

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Packed with antioxidants, protein, and vitamins, this treat satisfies your creamy, sweet craving as well as ice cream—without the sugar bomb.

To make a mango lassi: cut up one fresh, peeled mango and put it in a blender. Add a handful of ice, a small scoop of plain Greek yogurt (go full fat, it’s more satiating!), and a splash of water or milk. Add a dash of stevia for extra sweetness if desired.

Don’t like mangoes? Substitute frozen berries or watermelon!

Garbanzo Beans (Chickpeas)

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High-fiber garbanzo beans are rich in vitamin B6, which your body uses to produce serenity-boosting serotonin. Try adding garbanzo beans to salads, soups, and stews when you need sleep.

Chamomile Tea

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This herbal drink lacks the caffeine found in traditional teas, and it has a calming effect on the body. (That’s why it’s one of our favorite ingredients for these DIY spa treatments.) Also, a warm liquid before bed can make you sleepy by raising body temperature.


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A rise in blood sugar can reduce the production of orexin in the brain. Orexin is a recently discovered neurotransmitter that’s been linked to wakefulness. Try drizzling a small amount of honey in your chamomile tea. A different route to sleep: Keep dessert low in sugar.

Dried Tart Cherries

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A handful of dried cherries not only provides the requisite serotonin-boosting carbs, it’s also one of few food sources of melatonin, which has been found to promote better sleep and lessen the effects of jet lag. Plus, tart cherries are packed with age-fighting antioxidants.


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Turkey, not just for Thanksgiving anymore! The reason behind your epic after-Thanksgiving nap is also the secret to helping you sleep better. Tryptophan, an amino acid found in turkey, is known to help calm you down and naturally get you to sleep.

Not feeling the meat munchies? Try roasted pumpkin seeds (although be careful which kind you buy, as many cheap brands are roasted in rancid oils and soaked in salt).

Banana “Soft Serve”

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Frozen bananas turn into an ice-cream like confection with proper blending technique. The trick is to keep blending for several minutes. At first they’ll just look slimy, but then air works its magic and they morph into a creamy, light treat. Add a handful of chopped peanuts for some belly-filling fat and that sweet-and-salty flavor you crave.

All the potassium in this treat will not only help you fall asleep faster but can prevent those awful charlie horses that wake you up.

Kale Chips

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Don’t knock these baked veggie snacks until you’ve tried them. They’re surprisingly delicious! And the hefty dose of vitamin K helps repair and build muscles while you sleep. Simply chop up a bunch of kale, toss with olive oil and sea salt, and bake at 350 degrees until crispy.


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