You're 100 percent normal if you've ever grabbed a cup of coffee (or, OK, like, six). But it's far better to start rested than to try to keep yourself artificially wired through the day. And fortunately, getting to dreamland is as easy as stuffing your face with a few bites of key foods.
1. Cherries with greek yogurt or oats
These red orbs of deliciousness are a natural source of melatonin--that's the chemical that tells your body to chill out and rest. While they're fantastic alone, you also can pit or chop them and toss them in unsweetened, calcium-rich, plain greek yogurt, which is high in protein and can help you feel satisfied. But unsweetened non-instant oatmeal with cherries is another great choice. Oats have about 8 grams of fiber per serving, and like fat and protein, fiber contributes to you feeling pleasantly full. If you want a quicker fix, enjoy a cup of cherry juice.
While you should stick to just an ounce or so to avoid eating a calorie bomb, nuts like almonds and pistachios can be a good sleep-inducing snack. They contain a range of substances like magnesium and potassium--magnesium helps regulate melatonin and quiets the nervous system, while potassium can relax your muscles. They also have vitamin B6, which can convert tryptophan into serotonin, the "feel good" chemical that helps you feel happy and serene. The healthy fats and protein found in nuts are good for reducing sleep-robbing belly rumbles, too.
Like nuts, sweet potatoes with skin are another fabulous source of potassium, calcium, B6 and magnesium, as well as fiber. Enjoy one with a touch of honey or small dollup of butter, or sprinkle yours with a little cinnamon. You also can experiment by slicing them with a mandoline and baking them into crunchy homemade chips. Not into the orange spuds so much? Look for other natural sweet potato options, such as sweet potato bread, or just have a regular, medium-sized potato with its skin for dinner, which gives you a whopping 926 mg of potassium. With both types of potatoes, you get a solid dose of carbohydrates. Your body uses those to make it easier for the brain to absorb tryptophan, which then gets converted to niacin, which helps make serotonin.
4. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate contains powerful antioxidants that have a full range of benefits for health, so it makes tons of sense to reward yourself with this treat at the end of a long day. But dark chocolate's power for sleep comes from the fact it can boost the level of serotonin and other endorphins in the brain. But don't overindulge--the recommended serving is just one ounce.
5. Avocado on whole grain toast
While a banana is a great, quick choice for grabbing potassium, even better choices include beans, leafy greens and prunes. But avocados boasts 10 percent of your potassium needs, too, and they give you filling, healthy fats. If you nix the idea it can work only for a millennial's breakfast and eat it on whole grain toast, you'll get additional carbohydrates and fiber.
6. Warm milk
As luck would have it, the concept of warm milk putting you to sleep isn't just an old wives' tale. The calcium in milk helps your brain use tryptophan to make melatonin. If you'd rather not guzzle a cup, a little cottage cheese with honey or fruit or a basic cheese stick will get you the calcium, too.