Nutrition for Sleepers: 10 Foods That Will Help You Sleep

woman eating foods that help with sleep

Did you know that your sleeping habits significantly influence your overall health? Under normal conditions, it should not take you more than 15 minutes in bed before falling asleep. If you find that you?re taking an hour or two tossing and turning between the sheets, then you have a big problem. A good night?s sleep enables you to work at your best and think at your clearest during the day. The effects of sleepless nights can be pretty severe and can take a toll on your health in the long-term. But did you know that the type of food you eat before bedtime can have a noticeable effect on your sleep? The quality of your sleep depends to a great extent not just on what you eat, but also the time at which you eat before sleeping!

By eating the right type of food at the right time on any given night, you can greatly improve your sleep. Sleep-inducing foods contain tryptophan which is an amino acid that is used by the body to make melatonin and serotonin. These are two essential sleep-inducing neurotransmitters that help calm and relax the brain making you fall asleep. Combining foods rich in tryptophan and carbohydrates can assist you in reducing the time you take to fall asleep. Carbohydrate-rich foods help your body to release insulin which helps drive more amino acids far away from your brain. Regardless of the cause of your sleepless night, here are the 10 foods that help you sleep soundly through the night.

1. Hard boiled eggs for a good night’s sleep

eggs for great sleepA cooked egg is an excellent pre-bedtime snack that can improve the quality of your sleep. Next time you find yourself tossing in bed, crack some eggs and boil. Eggs are rich in tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid that works almost like a natural sedative. Eggs are excellent insomnia-beating food that can save you from a troubled night?s sleep.
Additionally, eggs are rich in proteins. The proteins are helpful in supporting your sleep as they keep blood sugar in control. Instead of craving for a full plate of cooked rice, head to that tray and crack some eggs before going to bed (I love eggs so this is certainly my pick).

2. Walnuts for better sleep

walnuts for better sleepThese tasty nuts are ultimate brain foods that help translate to a peaceful night sleep. Though all nuts contain tryptophan, walnuts and cashews contain the highest percentages. Walnuts are also rich in melatonin. Melatonin is beneficial in enhancing your sleep and wake cycle. Your body has its internal clock that controls the hours you sleep and wake up. Melatonin levels typically rise from mid to late evening and the drop when morning comes. However, external factors such as light do affect melatonin production in your body. Melatonin-inducing foods such as walnuts are beneficial in influencing the production of melatonin in your body.

3. Bananas to supercharge your?sleep

bananas and sleepWho doesn?t like bananas? These sweet, inexpensive and tasty fruits are the best in helping you sleep better through the night. Bananas are packed with high levels of potassium and magnesium. These two essential minerals help promote muscle relaxation. It is advisable to pair it with another sleep-inducing food to provide great night sleep. On average, one banana contains up to 487 mg of potassium and about 37 mg of magnesium.

In addition, Bananas also contain tryptophan which is valuable for your sleep. The tryptophan contained in bananas is converted to serotonin which is a good sleep-promoter. To top it off, bananas are packed with melatonin, a sleep hormone. When melatonin levels increase in your body, you start feeling drowsy and can fall asleep quickly.

4. Whole grains for peaceful sleep

whole grains for great sleepOne possible cause of insomnia may be low levels of magnesium. Whole grains contain high levels of magnesium. Magnesium is good for relaxing the body and minimizing its response to stress. This has a phenomenal impact on sleep quality. Magnesium also helps in biosynthesis and regulation of melatonin hormone which is paramount for sufficient sleep.
Whole grains such as barley, wheat and couscous have high levels of magnesium. They make you fall asleep faster and sleep for long. So, try snacking on some whole grains before going to bed. Again, whole grains help keep blood sugar in check. However, try to avoid sugary cereals as they can make your blood sugar level spike.

5. Cherries for a restful night

cherries for restful nightLots of research has been carried out on cherry juice and its influence on sleep quality. Cherries, particularly tart cherries are great sleep-inducing fruits. They can reduce the severity of insomnia and improve the duration of your sleep. Cherries, apart from being tasty, are also among the few natural sources of melatonin. If you are struggling with sleepless nights, it is advisable that you drink an 8-ounce serving of tart cherry juice an hour or two before sleeping.

6. Fish, a drowsy midnight snack

eating fish for better sleepNot getting enough sleep at night can lead to a host of other health problems such as weight gain, irritability, yawning, and tiredness. If shut eye does not come easily to you, then one of the popular remedies is taking fish. Experts have found out that the omega-3 fatty acids contained in fish are beneficial in promoting good night sleep. Fishes such as salmon and tuna are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids which are associated with better sleep. Those that eat fish experience fewer sleep disturbances, waking episodes and often sleep longer.

7. Lettuce, the surprising sleep inducer

lettuce and sleepIt is not a surprise that romaine lettuce is an excellent traditional bedtime meal. In fact, it is an effective one. Salad contains an essential phytonutrient called lactucarium. This is a good sleep-inducer that helps promote general body relaxation and relieves pain. This is what you can do; prepare a brew of lettuce tea by pouring hot water on its leaves. Leave it for ten minutes, then add some honey to sweeten and give flavor. Take it an hour before going to bed. Sleepless nights, insomnia, turning and tossing, will become a thing of the past.

8. Kale for health sleep snacking

kale and sleep If you are suffering from fatigue and insomnia during the day due to insufficient night?s sleep, add this superfood into your dinner plate. Believe it or not, kale is a great source of calcium. Calcium is beneficial to the brain, enhances your body?s ability to use tryptophan and helps to convert it into melatonin. Melatonin is a sleep hormone that enhances sleep quality and sleep duration. Consider snacking on some kale before bedtime. You can cook it raw in vegetable stock for around five minutes and add garlic then serve it ready to eat with your dinner.

9. Broccoli, the deep sleep promoter

broccoli and sleepStudies carried by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found out that adding more fiber to your diet can help restore the quality of your sleep. Those who consume more fats with less fiber spend the least time in the deep sleep cycles. Broccoli is a good source of natural fiber which can potentially remedy your sleepless nights. Throw it into your dinner plate.

10. Decaf Green Tea; a safe sleep aid

decaf tea sleep aidAs a bedtime tea lover, I can confirm that decaffeinated green tea is a good sleep companion. Note that ?decaf? does not mean ?no caffeine?, just very small quantities of it. It contains theanine, an amino acid that helps promote better sleep. Without the caffeine acting as a sleep deterrent, this is definitely a beneficial nutrient to include in your daily diet. Take a cup of it at night and you will sleep soundly in no time.


While most people would consider food less effective than taking sleeping pills, it doesn?t have the negative side effects. If you want to restore your sleep naturally, then consider the eating these 10 sleep-inducing superfoods. As part of a comprehensive sleep hygiene program, they can help you get back on track.

Have you found any of these to work well for you? Or do you have suggestions I?might have missed??I would be happy to hear if you found this useful–drop me a line below!

Sleep well until next time.

Josh

4 Comments

  1. sofia

    Hi,
    Thanks for sharing. I don’t usually have trouble sleeping unless I take a late nap close to bedtime. I find exercising can help sleep better and staying off of electronics a few hours before bed also helps.

    I agree, sleeping pills have side effects that make you groggy in the morning or worse..make you oversleep. When I took medicines in the past, I always felt groggy the next day all day.

    The best way to sleep naturally is to use foods or practice healthier lifestyles.

    Thanks,
    Sofia

    Reply
    1. Joshua (Post author)

      Very true words Sofia. The terrible thing about sleeping pills as well is that they are coupled with fast-acting relaxants that can cause loss of muscle tone in the soft palate and tongue. Persons with OSA should ideally stay away from those–my wife and I used to take them. Not anymore!

      Reply
  2. Netta

    Hey Joshua:

    Thanks for the information on sleepy-time foods. As you say, food may not knock you out fast, but it sure doesn’t have all the side-effects the fancy chemical cocktails do.

    I am especially fond of hardboiled eggs as a late-night snack. There are almost always bananas on the kitchen counter as well. And now I know why….

    Reply
    1. Joshua (Post author)

      Glad you found this to be useful Netta. I myself positively adore hardboiled eggs so I was pretty happy to find out they could help with my sleep! It’s always good to go after natural methods first in my book 🙂

      Reply

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