In a perfect world, the end of your day would be ideal for relaxing and unwinding with loved ones. Unfortunately, the end of the day is usually just as hectic as mornings for most people.
Whether you’re struggling to get dinner on the table, running kids around to extracurricular activities, or taking your work home with you, it can be hard to relax and prepare for bed.
We’ve put together a list of the best foods and drinks to end your day with so that you can reduce anxiety, sleep through the night, and even enjoy a little “me” time.
End your day with… Fish
If you have trouble sleeping at night, then switching up your last meal of the day may help. Go for something light, such as grilled fish and steamed veggies or a salad, in place of something starchy and heavy, such as grains, bread, pasta, rice, or dairy.
Heavy meals might keep you awake at night while your digestive system is busy trying to break it down. Grilled fish and steamed veggies are easy to digest and won’t disrupt your sleep like a heavy meal would.
Additionally, research shows that fish (such as salmon) is a good source of melatonin, which helps regulate the sleep cycle. According to one study, fish contains more melatonin than meat, making it a good option for protein at night.
Melatonin has other health benefits, too. It contains antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting, anticancer, cardiovascular-protective, anti-obesity, anti-diabetic, anti-aging, and neuroprotective properties.
End your day with… Red wine
Having a glass of red wine at night with dinner can help you relax. Just be sure to stick to one as too much alcohol can interrupt sleep and lead to blood sugar problems.
Red wine contains less sugar and higher amounts of antioxidants than white wine. It’s a good source of resveratrol, which is an antioxidant that contains pharmacological actions that protect against neurological disorders, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and obesity.
Additionally, red mine is a good source of melatonin, thanks in part to the fermented yeast that it contains. Be sure your wine comes from organic sources and does not contain added sugars.
End your day with… Chamomile tea
Chamomile is an herb that contains relaxing abilities due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It has been shown to help protect against inflammation, fevers, cancer, the common cold, heart problems, gastrointestinal problems, such as diarrhea or colic, eczema and skin conditions, hemorrhoids, and much more.
Research shows that chamomile tea has sedative effects due to the flavonoid apigenin, which binds to benzodiazepine receptors in the brain to make you feel sleepy. One study found that cardiac patients who drank chamomile tea fell into a deep sleep for 90 minutes or less. Another study indicated that chamomile helps reduce stress hormone levels.
Try enjoying a hot cup of chamomile tea after dinner to help promote relaxation before bed.
End your day with… Nuts
Research shows that nuts, especially pistachios, contain a good amount of melatonin. If you’re looking for a pre-bedtime snack, then reach for pistachios and a small amount of berries to help promote relaxation instead of something sugary, such as ice cream.
Nuts are also a good source of the mineral selenium, which has been shown to help reduce anxiety and boost your mood to help you deal with stress. One study found that people who were low in selenium were more likely to experience anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
End your day with… Apple cider vinegar
Adding apple cider vinegar to your diet at night can help stabilize blood sugar levels while you are sleeping. According to one study, vinegar and cheese ingestion at bedtime may help improve waking glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
Researchers determined that acetic acid, the active ingredient in vinegar, has an antiglycemic effect that reduces starch digestion and delays gastric emptying.
Instead of taking apple cider vinegar straight up, which might be hard to digest, try using it as a salad dressing at dinner. Combine two tablespoons of olive oil with one tablespoon of raw, organic and unfiltered apple cider vinegar and drizzle over your favorite leafy greens and cheese.
End your day with… Turkey
Turkey is a good source of the amino acid l-tryptophan, which has been shown to help promote sleep. According to one study, l-tryptophan in doses of 1 gram and more increases sleepiness and decreases the time it takes to fall asleep. It also helps decrease total wakefulness and increases sleep time.
Try enjoying turkey as your protein source at night along with some vegetables or a salad. Other good sources of l-tryptophan include chicken, whole milk, peanuts, wheat bread, chocolate, canned tuna, cheddar cheese, oats, bananas, apples, and dried prunes.
Tart cherries are a good source of melatonin. Research shows that drinking tart cherry juice may help you sleep better, but you’ll want to watch out for the added sugars that most juices contain.
According to one study, cherry juice increased sleep efficiency and sleep time. This is because cherry juice contains a chemical compound called a procyanidin that inhibits a compound called IDO that degrades tryptophan and causes inflammation in the body.
End your day with… Kefir or unsweetened yogurt
Kefir is a fermented milk beverage similar to yogurt that contains probiotics. Research shows that probiotics can help regulate gut bacteria to reduce anxiety and depression, which can help calm your mind at night before bed.
If you have problems digesting dairy, then look for a brand of coconut yogurt or kefir with no added sugar. You can add berries to unsweetened yogurt in place of ice cream for a sweet treat before bed that will help reduce anxiety and support gut health.
End your day with… Valerian root tea
Valerian root has been shown to help you sleep without producing any side effects. It’s naturally caffeine-free and can be enjoyed before bed to induce calmness, reduce anxiety, and promote feelings of well being.
As a mild sedative, studies show that valerian root can help treat mild insomnia and other sleep disorders. Other herbal teas that can help you sleep include ginger, lavender, and lemon balm.