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10 Foods That Help You Sleep Better at Night

Head and shoulders photograph of Anju Mobin
a person laying on a couch with their head on a pillow
Over the years, I've seen firsthand how dietary choices can influence our sleep patterns. Many of my clients are often surprised to learn that certain foods can promote peaceful sleep and improve overall rest quality.

The availability of meal delivery services has simplified the process of acquiring foods that can positively affect your overall well-being.

Getting a good night's sleep is vital for our physical and mental health. What you eat before bedtime (whether for dinner or as a late-night snack) significantly shapes your sleep quality and pattern.

So, here are 10 foods to help you achieve a more rejuvenating night's rest.

1. Milk

Drinking milk before bedtime gives your body tryptophan, which aids in producing sleep-inducing compounds. Calcium in milk helps with muscle contraction and relaxation, while its magnesium content calms your nervous system.

A warm glass of milk offers psychological benefits, too; its comforting properties promote relaxation and contentment. This warmth and comfort can decrease anxiety and stress, helping you transition to a peaceful night's sleep.

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2. Oats

Oats, rich in melatonin, help regulate our sleep-wake cycle. This hormone signals your body that it's time to wind down for sleep. Additionally, the essential minerals in oats, such as magnesium, relax muscles and alleviate stress.

Oats are also an excellent source of complex carbohydrates, which can boost serotonin production—a feel-good brain chemical. When your serotonin levels increase, they can help you de-stress and feel more at ease, facilitating a quicker transition to sleep.

3. Almonds

Almonds are rich in magnesium and can help relax your muscles. They also contain tryptophan, an amino acid that transforms into serotonin and then melatonin in your brain, regulating your sleep-wake cycle.

Try a warm bowl of oatmeal sprinkled with almonds and a touch of honey as a sleep-friendly meal. The carbohydrates in oatmeal boost tryptophan and the glucose in honey facilitates its transport to the brain.

4. Bananas

Eating a banana before bed can improve your sleep quality due to its natural melatonin content. Consuming one offers a gentle increase in melatonin, signaling the body to prepare for rest.

Furthermore, bananas provide magnesium and potassium, which soothe muscles and ease nerves. They also provide vitamin B6, essential for producing melatonin and serotonin.

5. Turkey

Turkey contains tryptophan, making it a favorable choice for the day's last meal. As a lean protein, turkey is packed with essential nutrients like vitamins B3 and B6—which are needed for DNA repair and skin health. Plus, it can leave you feeling full and satisfied, which can benefit a cozy night's rest.

Consider roasted turkey breast paired with steamed broccoli and quinoa. This combination offers lean protein, fiber, and slow-release carbs, ensuring a nutritionally balanced dinner. If you don't like turkey, high-protein chicken dishes can be excellent alternatives.

6. Salmon

Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can combat inflammation and enhance sleep quality. These healthy fats temper the body's stress reactions, making it easier to stay asleep throughout the night. Additionally, salmon's vitamin D content plays a pivotal role in rest regulation, ensuring a consistent sleep-wake rhythm.

For dinner, try baked salmon paired with asparagus and a side of quinoa salad. While salmon offers omega-3 benefits, asparagus and quinoa supply vital nutrients and carbs that further refine sleep quality.

» Test HelloFresh's pescatarian meal kits that include fresh salmon.

7. Pumpkin Seeds

Snacking on pumpkin seeds can give your body a dose of tryptophan. These seeds also offer protein and healthy fats, which can maintain steady blood sugar levels overnight, reducing the chance of nighttime disturbances.

Consider eating yogurt sprinkled with pumpkin seeds and a touch of honey. This wholesome snack or dessert option can be a delightful way to promote better sleep.

8. Cherries

Cherries naturally contain melatonin. When you eat cherries, you can amplify your body's sleep signals. These fruits are abundant in antioxidants like anthocyanins that mitigate inflammation. Less inflammation can lead to decreased discomfort, which is crucial for a peaceful night's sleep.

With a low glycemic index, cherries won't cause sudden spikes in blood sugar levels. Enjoying a handful before bed can foster a deeper, more tranquil sleep.

9. Kiwi

Kiwis are a fantastic sleep-friendly fruit because they're rich in serotonin and can aid in regulating our sleep-wake cycle. They're also loaded with vitamins C and K, potassium, and other nutrients that bolster overall health and, in turn, improve sleep quality.

Their antioxidants and dietary fiber can reduce inflammation and promote a healthy digestive system, ensuring a comfortable night's sleep. Try a bowl of kiwi slices and a dash of honey. This combination, rich in antioxidants from kiwis and protein from yogurt, creates a tasty and nutritious bedtime treat.

10. Chamomile Tea

Chamomile tea contains a compound called apigenin, which acts as a mild sedative. This natural relaxant can soothe the mind and alleviate anxiety, facilitating relaxation and sleep onset. Chamomile tea is also free from caffeine and won't keep you alert like other beverages.

This comforting herbal brew can also aid digestion. Moreover, its warmth can establish a soothing bedtime ritual, signaling to your body that it's time to unwind and rest.

» Create simple, healthy dinners with Green Chef.

Foods That Could Disrupt Sleep

  • Caffeine: Present in coffee, tea, and energy drinks, it can hinder sleep when consumed it late in the day.
  • Alcohol: Drinking alcohol before bedtime can lead to disrupted sleep, leaving you feeling tired and sluggish when you wake up.
  • Nicotine: Avoid smoking or chewing on nicotine gums close to bedtime to get better sleep.
  • Spicy and acidic foods: Spicy or acidic foods such as hot peppers or tomato-based sauces/soups can cause heartburn or acid reflux.
  • High-fat foods: Foods high in fat, like heavy cream, fatty meats, ice cream, and butter, take a long time to digest, potentially causing discomfort.
  • High-sugar foods: Sugary items can drastically spike your blood glucose levels and leave you too restless to sleep.

Enhancing Sleep With Nourishing Foods and Habits

Did you know that, on average, we spend about one-third of our lives asleep? That's why making the right dietary choices is so crucial.

Incorporating sleep-friendly foods into your weekly meal planning can be a smart way to improve your overall sleep quality. The 10 foods mentioned here, including cherries, kiwis, and calming chamomile tea, provide a variety of natural remedies to help you achieve restful sleep.

» Discover the best nutrient-rich food to add to your diet.

Head and shoulders photograph of Anju Mobin
Anju Mobin is a certified nutritionist, Diet and Fitness Consultant at numerous medical clinics, founder and editor of fitnesshacks.org, and a writer for Top10.com. Anju strives to simplify complex information about nutrition, health, and fitness for the general public.

*The information on this site is based on research, but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new diet plan, we recommend consulting with a physician or other professional healthcare provider. Results may vary based on various health factors, individual weight loss plans and adherence to the meal plan.