What you decide to eat after dinner or close to bedtime can seriously impact the quality of your sleep. You don’t want to eat too many calories within an hour before bedtime, but it is recommended that you not go to bed hungry. Eating a snack of only a couple hundred calories close to bedtime helps regulate sleep and ensures you don’t awaken with a rumbling stomach in the middle of the night.

According to WebMd, “When we eat, leptin signals that the body is satisfied, while ghrelin stimulates hunger. Researchers speculate that if we have enough leptin to suppress the secretion of ghrelin, we’ll sleep through the night without awakening to eat.”

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Prevent sleep-wrecking stomach grumbling by paying attention to what you eat throughout the day and close to bedtime. Here are five plant-based foods to help you get a better night’s rest.

1. Bananas

Bananas are high in potassium and magnesium, which are natural muscle relaxants. They’re also rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that helps your brain produce the chemical serotonin, which helps you fall asleep. Since they contain 110 calories per serving and no fat, bananas are an all-around great bedtime snack. Eat a half of a banana an hour or so before bedtime. Or, wow your dinner guests with a Banana Cake With Peanut Butter Frosting. Appeal to the kids with a fun recipe for Raw Vegan Banana Hemp Seed Sushi Slices.

2. Cherry juice

Modern research shows that cherry juice may help treat insomnia. Though people often get extra melatonin by popping a supplement, there are small amounts of melatonin found naturally in some plant foods. Cherries are one of the richest, natural sources of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep cycle.

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3. Whole Grain Bread

Whole grains are high in fiber, which can help keep you full and asleep throughout the night. There are many other health benefits of eating whole grains, such as reducing your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. For a little sweetness, try making a low-fat, whole wheat carrot bread.

4. Seeds

People who are deficient in magnesium can suffer from long-term sleep deprivation. Eating seeds like pumpkin, sesame, and flax is a great way to get more magnesium in your diet and thus help you sleep more soundly. Like bananas, pumpkin seeds also contain tryptophan, the serotonin-producing amino acid. Pumpkin seeds also contain high amounts of zinc, which helps the brain convert tryptophan into serotonin. The seeds are delicious simply roasted, or you can get more creative and make a fragrant, Raw Pumpkin Seed Pesto.

5. Green, leafy veggies

Eating foods high in folate can help promote sleep, considering experts associate a folic acid deficiency with poor sleep. Green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, and collard greens are high in folate. According to Livestrong.com, a diet high in folate can also help combat chronic fatigue syndrome, so stack your plate with those big leaves. For a nice bedtime snack, try cooking some Baked Kale Chips, made with only kale, nutritional yeast, and your choice of spices.

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Image Source: Kris Krug/Flickr