woman reaches for fruits and vegetables from inside of fridge door

Quick & Easy Recipes to Help You Sleep

If you like to have a nibble or a sip of something before bed, you’re not alone. 

According to an Ipsos poll

“With nearly one half (47%) of Canadians agreeing that they like to have a bedtime snack, nearly one quarter (24%) of Canadians say that when they do snack, they typically do so before bedtime.”

Your mother will probably tell you that late night snacking right before bed is bad for your sleep and your health but, as it turns out, Mom might not have been totally right on that one. 

While it’s true that a large meal can disturb your sleep, leading to heartburn and indigestion, a light snack shouldn’t prevent you from getting your rest.

There are a lot of foods that might actually help you fall asleep more easily.

In fact, if you’re an active or athletic person, it can be beneficial to get in a few calories and nutrients right before heading to bed.

It can help muscle repair and regrowth following a workout, replacing the glycogen your body needs before your next workout.

Children can also benefit from a bedtime snack. Most kids don’t always eat large quantities at meal times and can end up with disrupted sleep if they get hungry during the night.

A healthy, protein-rich snack could do the trick.

Foods That Can Help You Sleep

Wood table with bananas, cherries, nuts and grains

Here are some foods that are beneficial to your brain and body that you can eat before bed and improve your odds of a good night’s rest:

  • Bananas, because of the magnesium they contain, which helps with relaxation, stress relief and digestion
  • Milk, which contains melatonin and tryptophan
  • Greek yogurt, in addition to melatonin and tryptophan from the milk solids, there are also probiotics which can aid your digestion
  • Cottage cheese is high in protein, which means your body uses energy to break it down for digestion … which will help you sleep
  • Turkey, which takes energy to digest and contains tryptophan
  • Chamomile tea, which contains the antioxidant apigenin, which has been linked to stress relief 
  • Kiwi, which is high in serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps you with cognition, memory and mood, a good balance that will help you sleep better
  • Cherries are also a good choice due to their anti-inflammatory properties and natural melatonin
  • Oatmeal, which contains a good dose of melatonin

Foods to Avoid If You Want to Sleep

Chocolate, coffee, sugar cubes in a white cup on a saucer

There are definitely foods to avoid if you want to make sure you get a good sleep. Obvious among them are foods that are high in sugar or caffeine, as well as alcohol. 

Here are a few others:

  • Processed snacks that are high in fat and/or salt
  • Spicy foods
  • Acidic foods, like oranges or other citrus

However, since you’re probably not going to sit down to a big spicy pulled pork sandwich every night, you can leverage the sleep advantages some foods provide in recipes that are delicious and good for you. 

Here are some of our faves ...

Cherry Protein Smoothie

By combining several of the ingredients mentioned above, you can get a power packed sleep recipe that will fill you up, leave you satisfied and help you sleep:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 scoops of your favourite protein powder
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup frozen cherries, berries or sliced bananas
  • 1 tablespoon tart cherry-juice concentrate
  • 3 ice cubes

Instructions:

  1. This one is easy: just place all the ingredients in a blender, blend until smooth and enjoy.

Yogurt Parfait

Combining the sleep inducing properties of the yogurt, with a little carbohydrate in the granola, your body will be processing well into the night.

Ingredients:

  • A cup of Greek yogurt
  • Berries, kiwis and bananas
  • Oatmeal granola
  • Honey

Instructions:

  • In a bowl, layer yogurt, then fruit, a little more yogurt and then the granola.
  • Drizzle with a bit of honey.
  • Enjoy!

Banana Nut Toast

The carbohydrates in bread makes your body release a little insulin; not a big spike, but just enough to get some tryptophan amino acids into your brain, making you feel sleepy. 

The protein in the nut butter will take longer to digest, leaving you feeling satisfied and ready for bed.

Ingredients:

  • Whole wheat bread
  • Peanut or almond butter
  • Banana

Instructions:

  • Toast your bread and add a generous amount of your favourite nut butter
  • Top with slices of banana

You can switch up the bananas for other protein rich options, like dates. The hint of sweetness will satisfy a sweet tooth, while the proteins will keep you satisfied longer.

A Few Quick Recipes for Sleep Combos

  • Whole wheat crackers and cheese
  • An apple slice with nut butter
  • Banana and peanut butter
  • Cottage cheese and kiwi
  • Cherries and cheese

TIP: If you have a real sweet tooth, small quantities of dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa) is okay to have before bed. Melt a little and dip bananas and cherries into it for a perfect sweet tooth snack.

Good Ol’ Warm Milk

woman sleeps after drinking warm milk from glass on nightstand

Far from being a myth, the melatonin and tryptophan in milk will help with sleep. 

Drinking it warm is soothing and easier to digest. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon for a little more flavour.

If you want to up the solids, you can include a low sugar whole grain cereal like Cheerios or Shredded Wheat.

If you’re not into milk, a mug of chamomile tea will lull you with its soothing warmth.

The downside to drinking before bed, particularly for children, is the urge to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, which can fragment sleep.  

Take a look at the food for sleep list and make up your own quick and easy recipes, to have at the ready before you head to bed; you’ll have a more restful, sustained sleep that will help rejuvenate your body and brain for the day to come.

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