Best Foods that Help You Sleep
Written by Dreamcloud Editorial Team
Last Updated on Feb 09, 2023
Are you looking for quick remedies that can help you fall asleep faster? The good news is that the answer may be in your kitchen!
There are some best foods and drinks for sleep. Foods that help you sleep mainly contain sleep-regulating hormones like melatonin and serotonin and nutrients like calcium and magnesium.
This article covers what foods to eat before bed, what to drink to sleep faster, types of food and drinks to avoid before bed, and explains how diet affects your sleep.
15 Best Foods to Eat Before Bed
Fatty fish is one of the best foods that help you sleep through the night. Whether you eat salmon or tuna or halibut, all are rich in vitamin B6, which helps make melatonin - a sleep hormone our brain releases in response to darkness. Melatonin signals our body to sleep and combats various sleep disorders.
Aside from that, a fatty fish also contains exceptional levels of omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D - and both nutrients are powerful enough to produce serotonin - a hormone that stabilizes our mood and fixes sleep problems.
You can count on Turkey when it comes to foods that make you sleepy. This popular Thanksgiving food contains high levels of tryptophan and amino acid, which increases melatonin production. A roasted turkey also contains a good amount of protein i.e 8 grams per ounce. Protein consumption before bed means less waking up throughout the night. If you have trouble falling asleep, try delicious and nutritious Turkey tonight!
Almonds before bed are popular among snacks that help you sleep. If you wake up at night with hunger pangs, almonds are a ready-to-eat option. You can also prepare milk from whole almonds, a wonderful alternative for people with lactose intolerance.
This tree nut contains many beneficial nutrients and is a great source of melatonin. An ounce of almonds provides you with 19% of your daily requirement of magnesium. Both magnesium and melatonin play a key role in regulating the sleep-wake cycle and are used as a potential treatment for insomnia.
4. Whole Grains
Whole grains produce insulin, which in turn activates tryptophan function in the brain. People with low levels of magnesium frequently wake up at night. Having whole grains rich in magnesium before bed will help you to enjoy a restful sleep at night. A whole-grain wrap is an easy-to-prepare option for eating before bed.
5. Warm Milk
People with a nut allergy can prefer warm milk before bed provided they are not lactose intolerant. Warm milk has been on the list of best foods and drinks for sleep for decades. Have a glass of warm milk before bed and you will see how quickly it helps you unwind. This drink has high levels of tryptophan that puts sleep hormones to work and prevents movement at night
6. Tart Cherry Juice
For those who are wondering what to drink to sleep faster, try tart cherry juice. Four compounds that influence sleep regulation are -
- Potassium and
And Tart cherries are rich in all the above four nutrients. No wonder why cherry juice is an outstanding drink that promotes sleep and prevents night-time awakenings. Plus there are no side effects! As per one pilot study cherry juice can reduce insomnia symptoms in older adults.
7. White Rice
Do you know higher rice consumption is associated with better sleep as compared to noodles and bread? White rice is easily digestible and makes tryptophan work faster in your brain! This rice has a high glycemic index (GI) and naturally increases blood sugar and insulin levels. High GI also promotes better sleep. To improve your sleep quality, eat white rice one hour before bed.
Lettuce is one of the best foods to have for dinner because it has a mild sedative-hypnotic effect. The plant has a phytonutrient called lactucarium and the sedative effects are due to the plant’s n-butanol fraction in the compound lactucin.
Without bananas the list of foods that promote sleep is incomplete. Eating a banana before bed helps you feel fuller and keep you asleep throughout the night. The fruit exceptionally increases serotonin and melatonin levels in our body.
Sleep-boosting nutrients in bananas are -
- Vitamin B6
All four of them work together to act as sedatives and induce sleep through different mechanisms in our brains and body. They help reduce muscle cramps, beat insomnia, and restless leg syndrome - and all these three health issues are associated with poor quality.
If you are looking for healthy late-night snacks, yogurt is a fantastic option. It is rich in calcium that’s healthy for bones and casein protein (in Greek yogurt) that digests slowly and helps you feel full longer. Calcium activates sleep hormones and is important for people with difficulty falling asleep
Kiwi is one of the best fruits that help you sleep! According to a study, people who ate two kiwi-fruits one hour before bedtime for four weeks reported an increase in sleep time and improved sleep efficiency. The reason why kiwi helps you fall asleep faster could be a bunch of sleep-promoting compounds in it like -
- Vitamin C
Do you know kiwi is a go-to snack for carb cravings, at night? Eat kiwi before bed and see the difference!
12. Chamomile tea
Chamomile has no negative side effects so it is the best tea before bed. In a study, 80 women - with poor sleep quality and sleep efficiency - consumed chamomile tea daily for 2 weeks and showed massive improvement. Another study involving older adults claims that consumption of chamomile extract for 28 consecutive days improves sleep quality. You can also enjoy similar sleep benefits by taking chamomile in other forms instead of tea.
Eggs are always on the list of best foods for sleep because they are full of hunger-satisfying proteins, nutrients, and tryptophan, which is a precursor to serotonin and melatonin. What’s more? They are also a great source of melatonin! Add eggs to your dinner and see how quickly you fall and stay asleep.
This leafy green is a power pack of calcium and antioxidants and both serve as triggers for our brain to use tryptophan and convert it into the sleep hormone melatonin. Eat kale before bed so that your sleep hormones work faster.
15. Barley Grass Powder
Last but not the least, barley grass powder is a powerful sleep-promoting food. It is packed with -
- Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA)
When GABA enters and attaches to the GABA receptor, it makes you feel calm and induces sleep. Research says GABA has a role in preventing insomnia.
You can add the barley grass powder to salad dressings or smoothies if you are preparing a healthy late-night snack. You can also mix the powder into a glass of plain water and your energy drink is ready.
Other Foods and Drinks that Help You Sleep
Other than the 15 food items mentioned above, there are some more foods that help you sleep, which are as follows:
- Sweet potato
Some best late-night snacks are :
- Dark chocolate
- Cottage Cheese and Crackers
If you are not in the mood to prepare dinner or eat snacks, here are some drinks that help you sleep faster:
- Ashwagandha Tea
- Goji Berry Juice
- Passionflower Tea
- Peppermint Tea
- Pure coconut water
Foods to Avoid Before Bed
While there are foods that help you sleep, some foods keep you awake at night. Check out some foods to avoid before bed, if you want to sleep well:
While a plate of delicious red-sauce pasta with a hearty amount of tomatoes seems tempting, eating it before bed can cause acid reflux and heartburn, which in turn can interfere with your sleep.
Fat-rich food takes a long time to digest! So, avoid bedtime snacks like burgers, pizzas, if you want to have restful sleep at night.
Just like high-fat food, fried food also takes a longer time to digest and can cause heartburn. You may not enjoy high-quality sleep if you intake fried food close to bedtime.
High Sodium Food
High sodium food like canned entrees, smoked meat, and salted nuts dehydrates the body, causing tiredness and fatigue. Eating such food before bed contributes to disrupted – or “superficial” – sleep.
People prone to heartburn should avoid spicy foods before sleep. Lying down aggravates the problem and delays the onset of sleep.
Drinks to Avoid Before Bed
Just like the above foods, there are some drinks that prevent restful sleep at night. Let’s explore which drinks to avoid before bed and why:
People drink coffee to wake up, feel refreshed and active and come up with great ideas. But the same beverage consumed at late hours of the day delays the onset of sleep. Caffeine remains in our system for 14 hours, which delays the onset of sleep and causes short sleep duration. So, avoid caffeine 4 to 6 hours before bedtime!
Alcohol may help you sleep instantly, but you may frequently wake up at night with night sweats, headaches, or nightmares. According to research, drinking heavily before bed is associated with short sleep duration, circadian abnormalities, and insomnia. Do you know alcohol before bed can also cause breathing-related sleep problems?.
Sugary and Energy Drinks
A lot of energy drinks are not just rich in calories but contain taurine and caffeine as well. Just like caffeine, taurine - an amino acid also signals your brain to be alert and increases your heart rate, which altogether makes it difficult for you to fall asleep.
A lot of people think black tea or any herbal tea are stress-buster and good for sleep. However, black and some herbal teas also contain caffeine and should be avoided before bed. As per research, beverages rich in caffeine taken 6 hours before bedtime has disruptive effects on sleep.
How Does Your Diet Affect Sleep?
People having a diet low in essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that influence the sleep-wake cycle may experience sleep problems. Some of the sleep-regulating nutrients and hormones are listed below so that you can add sleep-inducing foods to your diet.
- Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA)
- Vitamin - A, C, D, E, and K
As per research, lack of these nutrients is associated with sleep problems, by affecting different hormonal pathways in sleep. On the other hand, taking foods that are very high in carbohydrates at night can reduce the amount of deep sleep. This explains why energy drinks and sugar-sweetened beverages are bad for sleep.
Sleep experts recommend taking foods that help you sleep and are rich in above mentioned essential sleep compounds. However, there is a need for in-depth research to claim these benefits.
Is Eating Before Bed Bad?
Well, that depends on what type of food you are eating. Eating foods for deep sleep right before bad is not a bad idea if they are nutritious and very light. As per research, it is unhealthy to eat foods rich in salt, sugar, and fat before bed as they are harder to digest. Melatonin-rich foods, high fiber foods, and a Mediterranean diet will help you fall asleep faster and enhance the quality of sleep. However, if the food is heavy, it is safe to finish your dinner 2-3 hours before bed.
Eating habits affect health differently in each person. For some, eating before bed may result in weight gain and digestive issues. If you are suffering from any physical illness like obesity that demands a specific type of diet, consult a dietitian before you start munching foods that are good for sleep.
Having poor sleep every night can lead to a range of physical and mental health issues. Having foods that help you sleep at night is a simple remedy for sleep problems. Add food rich in sleep-promoting nutrients and sleep hormones to your diet. Heat healthy and sleep better!
If you have any diet restrictions, please consult your doctor before trying the best foods to have for dinner mentioned in this post.