The Best Foods To Eat For A Good Night’s Sleep

Food has the power to do all sorts of things to our bodies. According to SleepHealth.org it is estimated that sleep-related problems affect 50 to 70 million Americans every year. Luckily, there are certain foods that contain substances that naturally help people fall asleep faster and stay that asleep through the night. If you are one of those people that have trouble with sleep or know someone who does, these foods and drinks may do the trick!

A Spoonful of Nut Butter Does the Body Good

close up of peanut butter
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

Nuts can be turned into several dairy products including milk and butter. They are usually packed with tons of protein and can have a creamy and savory flavor. Butter made from nuts such as almonds, peanuts, and cashews contains tryptophan.

Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps balance nitrogen in adults, allowing them to sleep deeper and longer. It’s recommended to only eat about one tablespoon in order to not feel too full. To add some carbohydrates try spreading it on a cracker or piece of fruit.

Bananas Can Do More Than Just Help You Sleep

banana slices on top of strawberry yogurt
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

Bananas are one of the best foods to eat for people who can’t fall asleep. They contain natural muscle-relaxants with magnesium, potassium, and carbohydrates. Also, the vitamin B6 found in bananas has the ability to convert tryptophan into serotonin.

All of these substances found in bananas are designed to relax the body, improve cardiovascular health, and help cognitive functioning. Those who would rather not eat them plain can try pairing them with nut butter, yogurt, or toast.

White Rice Can Help You Fall Asleep In Half The Time

white rice in a bowl
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

A study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming white rice such as basmati or jasmine four hours before bed can cut the amount of time that it took the subject to fall asleep by half.

This is because white rice has a high glycemic index, which means it digests slowly in the body while releasing glucose in the bloodstream. Foods that have a high glycemic index tend to increase the production of tryptophan in the body as well.

Dark Chocolate Will Help Your Body Clock Run Smoothly

dark chocolate pieces on top of a foil wrapper
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Eating chocolate before bed probably seems like a sweet dream, but it’s crucial to know which type to consume. Dark chocolate is known for containing serotonin, which can relax both your body and mind.

It’s also rich in magnesium, which helps the body clock run on time. Researchers at Edinburgh and Cambridge Universities found that magnesium influences circadian rhythms of sleeping and waking, hormone release, body temperature, and more. Having a daily cycle is crucial for all living things.

Turkey May Be The Reason People Fall Asleep So Early On Thanksgiving

cameron jordan and mark ingram eating turkey legs on a football field
Sean Gardner/Getty Images
Sean Gardner/Getty Images

If you’ve ever wondered why you were so tired after Thanksgiving dinner, it is most likely due to the turkey. Some researchers believe that turkey has no effect on sleep, but other doctors have debunked this.

Turkey does, in fact, contain tryptophan, which metabolizes into serotonin and melatonin. Both serotonin and melatonin are the main chemicals responsible for causing sleep. In order for it to take effect, you’ll need to eat a large amount because one portion probably won’t do the trick.

Grab A Handful Of Almonds For Better Sleep Quality

almonds packed in a cloth
Michael Jacobs/Art in All of Us/Corbis via Getty Images
Michael Jacobs/Art in All of Us/Corbis via Getty Images

Almonds are a variety of tree nuts with many nutritional benefits. Just one ounce contains large doses of phosphorus, manganese, and riboflavin. Also, eating almonds regularly has been associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

These healthy nuts may boost sleep quality because they contain large amounts of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin. Those with insomnia can eat them before bed for their high magnesium content.

Why Oatmeal Shouldn’t Be Eaten For Breakfast

oatmeal in a bowl with a spoon and a side of maple syrup
Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post via Getty Images
Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Oatmeal may be associated more with breakfast, but it actually makes for a good before bed meal. Whole-grain oats increase the body’s production of insulin, which causes neural pathways to transfer tryptophan to the brain and raise blood sugar.

Oats are also high in vitamin B6 and melatonin, which can reduce stress, relax the body, and help people sleep more naturally. Those who really want to fall asleep fast should add milk or fruit because those contain similar sleep-inducing chemicals.

Don’t Hit Snooze On The Mozzarella Cheese

mozzarella balls on a plate with basil and tomatoes
Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Mozzarella cheese is one of the most powerful foods to help get you to sleep. It contains at least twice the amount of tryptophan as lean meat proteins, which will get people to sleep faster and longer.

The best version to eat is the part-skim mozzarella, which is usually found in string cheese. On its own it serves as a nutritious protein, but it can also be paired with some whole grain crackers or tomatoes and basil for a caprese salad.

It’s Great That Melon Is Mostly Water

a young girl eating a big piece of watermelon
Visual China Group via Getty Images
Visual China Group via Getty Images

Half of the contents in most melons are usually just water. One of the reasons people may have trouble falling or staying asleep can be caused by dehydration. Luckily, a serving of melon before bed is great for staying hydrated.

Also, the high fiber content from the melon can eliminate post-dinner hunger pains and ease digestion. If melons aren’t your thing try replacing it with another fruit with lots of water such as apples, oranges, or pears.

The Numerous Ways To Eat Sweet Potatoes

4 and a half sweet potatoes against a white background
FlowerPhotos/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
FlowerPhotos/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Sweet potatoes have everything someone needs to get to sleep. They provide complex carbohydrates that promote sleep, potassium that helps muscles relax, and are a great source of calcium.

They are one of the most versatile vegetables out there and can be whipped up into toast, fries, chips, and more. A piece of sweet potato drizzled with honey or a pinch of sea salt may aid someone trying to fall asleep.

Warm Milk Isn’t Just For Childhood Bedtime Memories

a young boy drinking a glass of milk
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

Some people may have memories of having warm milk as a child right before bed. That is because milk is a great source of tryptophan and has even been shown to improve sleep patterns. It also works well when taken with melatonin and after exercise.

When the tryptophan turns into serotonin it makes it a lot easier to fall asleep, but some think that associating the memory of warm milk with going to bed as a kid also triggers the body to sleep more soundly.

Tart Cherry Juice Is Packed With Many Nutritional Benefits

tart cherry juice, a book, glasses, and dried fruit on a bedside tray
Tom Enos/Cherry Marketing Institute via Getty Images
Tom Enos/Cherry Marketing Institute via Getty Images

Aside from assisting in a better night’s sleep, tart cherry juice has multiple health benefits. An eight-ounce serving contains 62 percent of our daily vitamin A needs, 40 percent for vitamin C, and 14 percent for manganese.

It also has lots of antioxidants that protect cells from harmful inflammation. Tart cherry juice has been studied for relieving insomnia and improving sleep quality. This is mainly due to its high content of melatonin. In a study by PubMed Central, adults with insomnia who drank the juice twice a day for two weeks reported better sleep quality than those who didn’t.

Why You Should Munch On Some Lettuce Before Bed

a bowl of romaine lettuce
Derek Davis/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
Derek Davis/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Eating lettuce right before bed may not sound too appealing, but it’s been proven to help assist with an effective night’s sleep. There are many varieties, but researchers agree romaine is the most beneficial because it contains a phytonutrient called lactucarium.

Lactucarium induces sleep, relieves pain, and promotes relaxation. If the idea of eating lettuce is still putting you off, try boiling hot water over the romaine lettuce leaves for a tea. Just make sure to add something sweet such as honey to get rid of the lettuce flavor.

How Kiwis Are Used To Study Sleep

kiwi arranged on a counter
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The National Institutes of Health conducted a sleep study that looked at kiwis and their relationship with sleep. Over the course of a month, 24 adults ate two kiwis an hour before going to bed and by the end, they reported falling asleep 42 percent quicker than before.

Kiwis are thought to promote sleep because of their large content of serotonin responsible for regulating the sleep cycle. Also, kiwis are very nutritious with high amounts of antioxidants, vitamins C and K, potassium, and carotenoids.

Fatty Fish Regulates The Sleep Cycle

someone sprinkling a citrus rub on a salmon filet
Ben McCanna/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images
Ben McCanna/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images

Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, trout, and mackerel are included in many diet plans because of their multiple health benefits. Each have a combination of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, which can enhance sleep quality and increase the production of serotonin.

It’s recommended to eat around three or four ounces before bed to fall asleep quicker and to sleep more soundly. Researchers say that fatty fish has more nutritional benefits than chicken, beef, and pork combined.

Look For The Fatty Acids In Walnuts

a basket with honey and walnuts
Valery Matytsin/TASS via Getty Images
Valery Matytsin/TASS via Getty Images

Various types of tree nuts have been studied with sleep production and researchers agree that walnuts are one of the best to consume before bed. Walnuts are rich in magnesium, phosphorus, copper, and manganese and are a great source of healthy fats.

Their fatty acids may contribute to better sleep because the substances in the acids can be converted to melatonin. Try pairing some with a pinch of honey to add a bit of sweetness to the nutty flavor.

The Best Reason To Eat Pretzels Before Bed

3 pretzels on a wooden table with some ribbon
Bildquelle/ullstein bild via Getty Images
Bildquelle/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Pretzels are a tasty snack that can be perfect for bedtime. Foods with lots of carbohydrates, such as pretzels and corn chips have a high glycemic index. These types of foods will spike blood sugar and insulin levels, which will decrease the amount of time it takes someone to fall asleep.

When blood sugar and insulin levels increase that helps tryptophan enter your brain and turn into melatonin for easier sleep. Before going all out on the pretzels, beware that foods with a high glycemic index can also lead to mood swings and insulin resistance.

Save The Cereal For After Dinner

a bowl of cereal with lego minecraft toys inside
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

Cereal may be one of the most popular breakfast food options, but it also makes for a good meal before bed. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the combination of cereal and milk can lead to better sleep.

The cereal contains carbohydrates with a high glycemic index and the milk is full of calcium. When calcium enters the body the amino acid called tryptophan converts into melatonin and serotonin and helps the body sleep better.

Sleep Well After A Belly Full Of Shellfish

lobster on a platter with oysters, shrimp, and dipping sauces
Scott Suchman/For the Washington Post/Getty Images
Scott Suchman/For the Washington Post/Getty Images

It may seem a bit unusual, but shellfish such as lobster, shrimp, crab, and squid can actually help with sleep problems. They each have large amounts of tryptophan, which naturally helps the body fall asleep faster.

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that balances nitrogen in adults and creates niacin. The niacin is then converted into serotonin and that aids in people falling asleep both faster and more smoothly. It’s no wonder that people will feel sleepy after an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet.

The Perfect Bedtime Drink

two women with tea at an outdoor cafe
Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

It’s probably a no brainer that tea will help people fall asleep. There are multiple varieties, so it’s best to know which kind to brew before bed. Researchers say that “sleepy time” tea such as chamomile and passionflower will do the trick.

Chamomile tea has glycine, which is a chemical that relaxes nerves and muscles and is also a mild sedative. Passionflower tea contains Harman alkaloids that work with the nervous system to make people tired.

Cottage Cheese Can Help Your Muscles Recover Too

cottage-cheese-bedtime-food
Instagram/good_culture
Instagram/good_culture

Cottage cheese is another food to put on your before-bedtime snack list. Keep a container of this high protein food in your fridge and add a couple of spoonfuls to a bowl of fruit, or eat on its own. Cottage cheese contains a high amount of casein, a milk protein that can help aid in muscle repair and growth while you sleep.

This is a good before-bedtime snack for active people who could use some relief from aching muscles after a hard workout. A helping of cottage cheese may help your body feel rested tomorrow.

Honey Can Help

honey-1161238898
Anton NovoderezhkinTASS via Getty Images
Anton NovoderezhkinTASS via Getty Images

If you’re the type of person who can fall asleep, but has trouble staying asleep, you’ll want to be sure to add honey to your pantry. Eating honey before you lay down can also help you get a good night’s sleep because of two properties it contains.

Raw honey naturally has both fructose and glucose, which helps your liver produce glycogen. Having enough glycogen in your body can help you stay asleep throughout the night and may prevent you from tossing and turning.

Grab That Magnesium-Filled Fig

A cut fig lies on a cutting board with arugula and walnuts.
Unsplash/@samvimes
Unsplash/@samvimes

Figs are a yummy source of calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron. All of these nutrients contribute to a good night’s sleep. “These minerals help with blood flow and muscle contraction, which are key for falling asleep,” says Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist Jaclyn London.

Dr. Ashwin Metha, medical director of Integrative Medicine, adds that magnesium-filled foods helps the muscles relax, which induces a sleep state. Fig also serves a healthy dose of fiber, so eating one before bed will prevent you from feeling constipated. Plus, the sweetness will curve your sugar craving.

Eat Prunes To Dream Vividly

A blue Ontario plum is cut in half.
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images
Roberto Machado Noa/LightRocket via Getty Images

Prunes are dried plums that offer a substantial amount of vitamin B6, magnesium, and calcium. All of these vitamins help produce melatonin. A 2018 study in the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills found that vitamin b6 not only promotes sleep, but also dream vividness and lucid dreaming.

The National Sleep Foundation adds that prunes are rich in antioxidants. Countering oxidative stress prevents people from developing sleep disorders and assuages symptoms in those who have sleep disorders.

A Little Cantaloupe Helps A Lot

 A vender sells Hami melons, a popular cantaloupe
Xinhua/Wang Song via Getty Images
Xinhua/Wang Song via Getty Images

Dehydration can prevent people from sleeping deeply, and cantaloupes provide enough water to combat this. Cantaloupes also supply almost 100% of your daily requirements for vitamins A and C. These minerals act as antioxidants that help you sleep soundly.

In 2014, a study in Advances in Virus Research noted that eating cantaloupe aids the Alpha-1 adrenergic receptor. This can reduce the amount of nightmares and sleep disturbance one experiences. Like many fruits and vegetables, a dessert serving of cantaloupe can change the way you sleep.

Late At Night, Bring On The Hummus

Someone dips a pita chip in a bowl of hummus.
Matthew Eisman/Getty Images for Food Network Magazine
Matthew Eisman/Getty Images for Food Network Magazine

Made with chickpeas and healthy oils, hummus supplies a low-calorie serving of tryptophan. It also fills you up quickly. “If you’re waking up hungry in the middle of the night, that usually means you’re not getting enough calories during the day,” says Cynthia Pasquella, CCN, CWC, CHLC.

Hummus’s main ingredient, chickpeas, also provides a lot of vitamin B6. This produces more melatonin to help you doze off. If you wake up hungry, or can’t fall asleep, eat some hummus as a late-night snack.

Break Out The Broccoli

Person cleans broccoli with a strainer.
Unsplash/@cjred
Unsplash/@cjred

During a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, researchers discovered that a diet high in protein, low in saturated fat, and high in fiber help people sleep more deeply. Broccoli provides all of these benefits. One cup of broccoli contains 2.6 grams of fiber and 2.5 grams of protein, more than most vegetables.

Broccoli also supplies tryptophan, which helps your body create serotonin and regulate sleep. Since broccoli takes a while to digest, eating it too close to bedtime may disrupt sleep, according to HuffPost. Save your broccoli for dinner, not a late-night snack.

Mix In Some Barley Grass Powder

Woman drinks a blend of barley grass powder.
YouTube/Nutriwash Official
YouTube/Nutriwash Official

Barley grass powder is a supplement that people add to smoothies and juices for its many nutritional benefits. According to a 2018 review in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, barley grass regulates and promotes sleep. The powder offers calcium, potassium, magnesium, and tryptophan–all nutrients that help you catch some ZZZ’s.

According to the same review, barley grass also provides antioxidants, inhibits inflammation, and prevents depression. You can mix barley grass powder into scrambled eggs, salad dressings, and soups.

Want Some Soy?

Farmer cooks edamame in a pan.
Tara Walton/Toronto Star via Getty Images
Tara Walton/Toronto Star via Getty Images

According a 2015 study in the Nutrition Journal, adults who ate two or more servings of soy a day had better sleep than those who didn’t. Why? Because soy products–including tofu, miso, and edamame–provide isoflavones that regulates sleep.

Isoflavones prompt the body to create serotonin, a chemical that signals the body’s circadian rhythm. This guarantees that when you’re ready for bed, you will feel sleepy. Enjoy some soy milk, tempeh, or edamame close to bedtime for the best results.

Yogurt Time!

Spoonfuls of yogurt lie against an orange table.
Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post via Getty Images
Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Calcium helps the brain create tryptophan, which in turn produces melatonin. And what better way to supply that calcium than a cup of yogurt? Research in the 2014 BMC Geriatrics confirms that eating more yogurt helps people fall asleep easier.

If you have a lactose sensitivity, you may want to swap milk with yogurt. Yogurt is easier to digest than milk, so it’s safe to eat it before bed and not stay awake from your body working to break down the proteins.

Kale Helps You Sleep Through The Night

Sitting woman holds and eats a vegan quinoa salad with kale, young beetroot leaves, garnet seeds, and sliced avocado
Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Natasha Breen/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Like other leafy greens, kale packs a surprising amount of nutrients. One cup of chopped kale supplies 31 mg of magnesium and 101 mg of calcium. Both minerals encourage our brain to create the sleep-inducing chemical melatonin.

“A lack of the nutrients calcium and magnesium will cause you to wake up after a few hours and not be able to return to sleep,” says Dr. James F. Balch, author of Prescription for Nutritional Healing. Add some kale to your dinner for dinner, continuous sleep.

Chicken Helps The Same Way As Turkey

Mean barbecues chicken on the grill.
Unsplash/@amandakerr
Unsplash/@amandakerr

Like turkey, chicken can make you feel tired after eating. Chicken also has tryptophan that releases sleep chemicals in your brain, according to the American Sleep Association. Eating chicken also gives you enough protein to sleep through the night.

Oddly enough, sleeping with a chicken may help you as well. Researchers have recently discovered that sleeping next to a chicken prevents malaria by warding off mosquitoes. Whether you eat or join a chicken, it will help you sleep.

Enjoy Your Dream With Passionfruit Tea

A cup of passionfruit tea sits on a bed next to a candle and flowers.
Unsplash/@kate_kasi
Unsplash/@kate_kasi

Although chamomile tea is often lauded for its calming effects, passionfruit tea gives a similar result. According to a study in Phytotherapy Research, participants who drank a cup of herbal passionfruit tea one hour before bedtime slept significantly better.

Researchers believe that the results stem from Harm alkaloids, chemicals found in the flower. These alkaloids reduce tension in your nervous system and help you fall asleep. Herbal teas like passionfruit don’t contain caffeine, so give this one a try.

Pumpkin Seeds

Woman holds pumpkin seeds that she is going to plant in her garden at home.
Robert Lachman/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Robert Lachman/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Along with being a perfect cold weather snack, pumpkin seeds can help you catch some shut eye. One-half cup of pumpkin seeds contain 600 mg of tryptophan. According to a 2014 study in Sports Medicine, one gram of tryptophan per day enhances sleep significantly, and pumpkin seeds provide over have of that.

A 2010 study found that one cup of pumpkin seeds offers 90 mg of magnesium, 71 mg of calcium, and 8 mg of zinc. All of these nutrients aid the production of melatonin that improves your sleep cycle.

Elk Meat Deserves More Credit

A cooked elk tenderloin.
Twitter/@mattfitzh20
Twitter/@mattfitzh20

Turkey often gets the credit as the meat that will help put you to sleep, but really, elk meat should top the list. While it’s not as readily available as turkey, elk meat contains twice the amount of tryptophan as turkey– the amino acid that helps put you to sleep.

Consider marinating some elk meat for dinner and you just might find that you get a better night’s rest after.

If You Also Feel Sick, Go With Bone Broth

Cups of bone broth sit near the windowsill.
Instagram/@jillgaissert
Instagram/@jillgaissert

If you’re having trouble sleeping because you’re feeling a little under the weather, bone broth should be at the top of your list. According to Medical News Today, bone broth is rich in vitamins and nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous.

The amino acids in bone broth help promote better sleep. Neuropsychopharmacology reports that the glycine that bone broth provides can help you sleep better and prevent fatigue tomorrow. Bone broth also boosts your immune system, making it a great option for a winter meal.

Legumes Are Action-Packed With Vitamin B

Harvested soya beans are pictured in an agricultural trailer.
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP/Getty Images
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP/Getty Images

Eating legumes may help make you feel better and help you sleep, too. They contain loads of vitamin Bs, including B6, B12, and folic acid which help regulate your sleep and wake cycles.

Vitamin B will also naturally boost your levels of serotonin, which will help you feel relaxed, making it easier to fall asleep. Since they’re loaded up with the stuff, you won’t need to eat a lot to get the sleep-aid benefits of legumes.

More Peas, Please

Cooked peas are dished out of a pot with a wooden spoon.
Unsplash/@hessamhoajti
Unsplash/@hessamhoajti

Peas are another food that contains high levels of vitamin Bs and can easily be added as a side dish at dinner to help aid in a good night’s rest. The vitamin B in peas helps regulate the body’s level of tryptophan, which in turn will help the body produce melatonin, causing you to fall asleep quicker.

If you needed another reason to eat your peas, there you have it! Serve it alongside turkey or elk meat and you’ll be set.

Baked Beans Are A Good Option

A wooden spoon mixes a pot of baked beans.
Photofusion/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Photofusion/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Many of us don’t have enough iron in our diet and among other things, this can prevent us from getting a good night’s rest. Iron helps the body form red blood cells, which provides your body with oxygen.

The more iron you have in your diet, the better balanced your body is. Eating baked beans, high in iron, may help prevent fatigue and can aid your body in feeling more calm and less anxious, making for a better night’s rest.

A Handful of Spinach Can Help

Woman sets a plate full of spinach down on a table.
Anjelika Gretskaia/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Anjelika Gretskaia/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Spinach is another food that’s high in vitamin Bs. This superfood is packed with nutrients, including vitamin B6 which will provide you tryptophan, helping your body wind down and signal that it’s time to rest.

Similar to turkey, eating spinach will boost niacin and serotonin, helping you feel sleepy and relaxed. Eat a spinach salad with dinner, or blend up a quick and healthy smoothie before you sleep to reap the benefits.