The #1 Food for Better Sleep, According to a Dietitian

The #1 Food for Better Sleep, According to a Dietitian

Jul 19, 2021Andrea Mathis

Struggling to fall (or stay) asleep? Incorporating this food may help.

Sometimes it feels like there are just not enough hours in the day. Our lives are constantly busy, and we tend to put getting the proper amount of sleep on the back burner. You may not realize this, but getting good night's sleep is incredibly important for your overall health. Research shows that getting the proper amount of sleep may reduce your risk of developing certain chronic illnesses and can help boost your immune system.

It's recommended to get between seven and nine hours of uninterrupted sleep each night, but many people struggle to even get between five to six hours of sleep. There are many strategies you can use to promote good sleep, including making a few changes to your diet.

There are a variety of foods that contain sleep-promoting properties, such as a natural source of melatonin. Melatonin is a natural hormone made by your body's pineal gland. The pineal gland begins to actively produce melatonin and release it into the blood when the sun goes down and darkness occurs. This process causes you to feel less alert and sleepy.

While there are several foods that contain a source of melatonin, the #1 food to help improve your sleep quality are cherries. Tart cherries or tart cherry juice contains a high amount of melatonin, and they have even been studied for their role in relieving insomnia. Studies have shown that the consumption of tart cherries or tart cherry juice resulted in increased sleep time and sleep efficiency.

Besides helping to improve your quality of sleep, tart cherries contain a great source of vitamins and minerals. An 8-ounce (240-ml) serving contains 62% of your daily needs for vitamin A, 40% for vitamin C and 14% for manganese. They also contain a rich source of antioxidants, including anthocyanins and flavonols. To reap the full benefits, it's recommended to consume a serving of tart cherries (1 cup) or tart cherry juice (240-ml) 2-3 hours before bed.

Here are some of our favorite ways to consume tart cherries or tart cherry juice—including delicious cocktails, desserts and more.

The Bottom Line

Getting an adequate amount of sleep is very important for your health. For those that may struggle with getting enough sleep, there are several foods that can help, with the #1 food being tart cherries. Tart cherries contain a combination of sleep-regulating hormones and vital nutrients, such as melatonin and magnesium, that are known to enhance sleep by helping you fall asleep faster or stay asleep longer.

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