Yes, we get it. You haven’t slept because you are preparing for finals (read: desperately cramming what you never learned in the first place). “Sleep is for the weak”, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” —we’ve heard these sayings all before. Time is at a higher premium than a late night Uber during formal season. But, although you would be more likely to give up the rights to your first-born than that desk at Huntsman, everyone needs to get sleep to perform their best.

If you’re inclined to avoid NyQuil-induced grogginess the next day or just want to keep things natural, here are some of the best foods you can eat to promote restful, restorative sleep. Or on the flip-side, avoid chowing down on these foods to avoid the mid-day VP nap. Trust me: that’s not a good look for anyone.

1. Cherries

Everyone has heard of melatonin nowadays. It’s the hormone that is secreted during sleep and plays a vital role setting up your circadian rhythm. Cherries are one of the few foods that naturally contain melatonin so eat a handful as a post-study late night snack to get deep, dream-intensive sleep.

2. Bananas

Bananas contain tryptophan, the essential amino acid that aids in the production of serotonin and melatonin. In addition to being high in tryptophan, they also contain beneficial potassium and magnesium, the latter of which greatly helps reduce muscle tension – allowing you to more readily relax after a long day. Eat them plain or try them in cookie or ice cream form.

foods help sleep

Photo by Hannah Morse

3. Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is a great hunger fighting food due to its high levels of protein and calories, but it can also help you fall asleep due to the presence of tryptophan. For best results, spread some on crackers or bread because the carbs are helpful in aiding the absorption of tryptophan. If you need a study break, try making your own.  You can also use almond butter, which adds in magnesium to help you relax!

foods help sleep

Photo by Connie Fan

4. Milk and Cereal

Everyone knows the old wives tale that a warm glass of milk helps when going to bed. While this claim is still debated to this day, milk does contain tryptophan and adding the carbs found in cereal helps in the absorption process. Try spicing your cereal up like this.

foods help sleep

Photo by Lawrence Yu

Of course there are many more foods that aid in sleeping, but these four are some of the best options available. For those looking to optimize some of the above foods’ effects, eat peanut butter toast with a glass of milk or a bowl of cereal with banana slices.

Finals do suck and they definitely wreak havoc on your sleep schedule – shoutout to the kids that show up to Huntsman in the morning when I’m leaving to go sleep – but eating these foods will help you get some quality Zs to get you ready to grind out studying all over again the next day.