According to a recent study, 89% of Americans state they have experienced difficulty falling asleep (67% experience it monthly). Yet the health benefits of getting a good night’s sleep are plenty: sleep lowers your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease, fends off depression, keeps your immune system strong, and keeps skin looking youthful, just to name a few. Just as you use food to fuel your day, you can use certain foods to help you wind down – many foods contain naturally occurring substances that bring on slumber.

Here are some of the best choices to help you catch the z’s:

  1. Bananas
    Bananas are great source of Vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin (the hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness).
  1. Fish
    Most fish are also high in vitamin B6. Salmon is especially high in B6 and other vitamins.
  1. Walnuts
    Walnuts are an excellent source of tryptophan, a sleep-enhancing amino acid that helps make serotonin and melatonin.
  1. Chamomile tea
    Drinking chamomile tea is associated with an increase of glycine, a chemical that relaxes muscles and acts like a mild sedative.
  1. Honey
    The natural sugar found in honey allows tryptophan to enter the brain. Add a spoonful to your chamomile tea at bedtime for a double dose!
  1. Hummus
    Chickpeas are a great source tryptophan.
  1. Kale
    Kale is loaded with calcium, which helps the brain use tryptophan to manufacture melatonin.
  1. Whole grains
    Whole grains are rich in magnesium, and a magnesium deficiency may make it harder to stay asleep.
  1. Rice
    White rice has a high glycemic index, so eating it will significantly slash the time it takes to fall asleep.
  1. Cherry juice
    Cherries, particularly tart cherries, naturally boost levels of melatonin.

If you find falling or staying asleep is a persistent problem, schedule an appointment with one of CareWell’s board certified physicians to discuss the issue.