10 Foods that Promote Better Sleep – Tips

Are there truly foods that promote better sleep or is this just a myth? Getting better sleep involves considering various factors, and one key element is dietary foods choices that can impact sleep patterns.

Insomnia, a sleep disorder marked by challenges in falling asleep, maintaining sleep, or achieving restorative rest, can arise from various sources such as stress, anxiety, lifestyle choices, and dietary habits.

This article discusses how to address insomnia effectively by adopting a comprehensive approach that includes a focus on the consumption of foods that promote better sleep, your mattress and pillows, and

10 Benefits of Quality Sleep

Quality sleep is essential for overall well-being, and it offers a range of benefits for physical, mental, and emotional health. Some key advantages of getting sufficient and high-quality sleep are discussed below:

Physical Well-Being

Getting quality sleep is linked to better physical health. It supports the immune system, helping the body defend against illnesses. It also plays a role in maintaining a healthy weight and reduces the risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

Woman sleeping peacefully on pillow - Foods that Promote Better Sleep
Woman sleeping peacefully on pillow

A good night’s sleep contributes to increased energy levels and overall vitality. It allows the body to recover and recharge, leading to better physical performance and productivity during waking hours.

Mental Well-Being

Improved Cognitive Function: Adequate sleep enhances cognitive functions such as memory, attention, and problem-solving skills, and contributes to better concentration and decision-making.

Enhanced Mood: Quality sleep plays a key role in regulating mood and emotional well-being. A lack of sleep is often associated with increased irritability, stress, and a higher likelihood of experiencing mood swings.

Stress Reduction: Quality sleep is a natural stress reliever. It helps the body and mind relax, reducing the overall levels of stress hormones and promoting a sense of calm.

Enhanced Emotional Resilience: Adequate sleep is essential for emotional resilience and the ability to cope with life’s challenges. It provides a foundation for better emotional regulation and coping mechanisms.

Optimal Hormonal Balance: Sleep plays a crucial role in regulating hormones that control appetite, metabolism, and stress. Quality sleep contributes to a balanced hormonal profile, supporting overall health.

Health and Performance

Improved Cardiovascular Health: Adequate sleep is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular issues. It contributes to maintaining healthy blood pressure and reducing the likelihood of heart-related conditions.

Better Skin Health: Quality sleep promotes skin health by allowing the body to repair and regenerate cells. It contributes to a more youthful appearance and helps prevent skin issues.

Enhanced Athletic Performance: Athletes, especially, benefit from quality sleep as it is linked to improved athletic performance, faster recovery from physical exertion, and reduced risk of injuries.

Influence of Sleep Quality by Foods that Promote Better Sleep

Diet significantly influences sleep quality. Certain foods and nutrients play a role in regulating sleep-wake cycles and promote better sleep.

You may be familiar with some of these foods, others may be a surprise. Some may work for you, while others may simply taste delicious but have no effect. We are all different.

Eating these foods just once, or eating them right before bedtime only, is not likely to have a huge impact on your sleep – it is more about consistency and building these foods naturally into your diet. 

The amino acid tryptophan, found in turkey, dairy, and nuts, contributes to the production of serotonin and melatonin, hormones that regulate sleep.

Carbohydrates help in the absorption of tryptophan, enhancing its sleep-inducing effects. Magnesium, present in leafy greens and nuts, can improve sleep quality, while the amino acid glycine in foods like bone broth may enhance sleep efficiency.

On the other hand, consuming caffeine, heavy meals, or excessive alcohol close to bedtime can disrupt sleep patterns. A balanced diet with sleep-promoting nutrients contributes to better overall sleep health.

Foods that Promote Better Sleep – 10 Groups

There are at least a group of seven foods that promote better sleep. These are melatonin-boosting, tryptophan rich, magnesium infused, omega 3 fatty acid rich, calcium rich, and complex carbohydrate foods. Also included are teas with sleep promoting properties

1. Melatonin-Boosting Foods that Promote Better Sleep

Cherries: Cherries are a natural source of melatonin, a hormone that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Consuming cherries or tart cherry juice, especially in the evening, can help increase melatonin levels, promoting better sleep.

Grapes: Grapes contain melatonin as well as other antioxidants that may contribute to improved sleep. Including a handful of grapes in your evening snack or as part of a light dessert can be a delicious way to support your body’s natural sleep mechanisms.

Tomatoes: Tomatoes also contain melatonin, and incorporating them into evening meals or snacks can provide a subtle boost to this sleep-regulating hormone. Whether in salads, as a side dish, or in a light salsa, tomatoes offer a versatile option for enhancing your sleep-friendly diet.

Kiwis: Kiwis have been recognized for their potential to improve sleep quality. They are rich in serotonin precursors, antioxidants, and, importantly, they contain a notable amount of vitamin C.

Vitamin C has been linked to enhanced sleep duration and quality. Consuming a kiwi as an evening snack or incorporating it into a fruit salad can be a tasty and nutritious way to support your sleep routine.

2.Tryptophan-Rich Foods that Promote Better Sleep

Thanksgiving dinner table with roasted turkey- Foods that promote better sleep
Thanksgiving dinner table with roasted turkey

Turkey: Turkey is well-known for its high tryptophan content, an amino acid precursor to serotonin and melatonin. Including lean turkey in your dinner can contribute to the relaxation and sleep-inducing effects associated with tryptophan.

Chicken: Like turkey, chicken is a good source of tryptophan. Grilled or roasted chicken can be a satisfying and nutritious part of an evening meal, promoting a gradual increase in serotonin and melatonin levels.

Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, and seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower seeds are rich in tryptophan. Snacking on a handful of these nuts or incorporating them into a pre-bedtime snack can provide a dose of tryptophan to support a restful night’s sleep.

3. Magnesium-Infused Foods that Promote Better Sleep

Dark Leafy Greens: Dark leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, are excellent sources of magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral that plays a role in muscle relaxation and may contribute to improved sleep quality. Including these greens in salads or side dishes can be a nutritious way to boost your magnesium intake.

Avocado: Avocado is not only a source of healthy fats but also provides magnesium. Adding avocado to salads, smoothies, or as a side dish can contribute to a well-rounded diet that supports relaxation and sleep.

Nuts and Seeds: Nuts and seeds, in addition to being rich in tryptophan, also contain magnesium. A mix of nuts and seeds can be a convenient and tasty way to incorporate both tryptophan and magnesium into your evening routine, promoting a more tranquil sleep experience.

Understanding the role of these nutrients in promoting sleep can guide the selection of foods to include in your evening meals and snacks, creating a sleep-friendly diet that aids in kicking insomnia to the curb.

4. Omega-3 Fatty Acid-Rich Foods that Promote Better Sleep

Fatty fish such as salmon, trout, and mackerel are abundant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s play a crucial role in the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with mood regulation and sleep.

Including fatty fish in your dinner, perhaps grilled or baked, can contribute to a well-rounded diet that supports not only heart health but also a restful night’s sleep.

Oily fish, including salmon, mackerel and tuna, supply vitamin D and omega-3 fats, which help keep hormone levels balanced and your sleep cycle in check. 

Flaxseeds and Chia Seeds: For those who may not consume fatty fish, incorporating plant-based sources of omega-3s, like flaxseeds and chia seeds, can be an alternative. These seeds can be sprinkled on yogurt, added to smoothies, or included in oatmeal, offering a vegetarian or vegan-friendly option to support sleep.

Including kiwis and fatty fish (or plant-based alternatives) in your sleep-promoting diet broadens the range of nutrients that contribute to better sleep. These additions provide a delicious and diverse array of options to help kick insomnia to the curb.

5. Calcium-Rich Foods that Promote Better Sleep

Dairy Products: Dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese contain calcium, which plays a role in the production of melatonin. A warm cup of milk before bedtime or a serving of yogurt can be soothing and contribute to a more restful sleep.

Leafy Greens: In addition to magnesium, leafy greens like kale and collard greens are good sources of calcium. Including these greens in your evening meals can provide a dual benefit of magnesium and calcium for better sleep.

6. Complex Carbohydrates as Source of Foods that Promote Better Sleep

Whole Grains: Foods rich in complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains (quinoa, brown rice, oats), can promote the entry of tryptophan into the brain, leading to increased serotonin production. These grains can be included in dinner or evening snacks to support a more stable and sustained release of serotonin.

Bananas: Bananas contain both tryptophan and carbohydrates, making them a convenient and portable snack option. The combination of these nutrients can contribute to the production of serotonin, promoting relaxation and improved sleep.

7. Teas with Sleep-Promoting Properties

Chamomile tea has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for promoting relaxation and improving sleep quality. It contains apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to certain receptors in the brain, potentially reducing anxiety and initiating sleep.

Furthermore, drinking a cup of chamomile tea before bedtime can help relax the mind and body, contributing to a smoother transition into sleep

Peppermint Tea while not directly linked to melatonin production, can help with digestion and relaxation, making it a suitable option for those looking to unwind before bedtime.

Valerian Root is an herb that has been traditionally used to alleviate insomnia and promote a sense of calmness. It may influence the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors in the brain, helping to reduce anxiety and improve sleep.

Valerian root supplements or valerian root teas can be considered as part of a bedtime ritual for those seeking natural sleep aids.

Lavender is renowned for its calming aroma, and its use in aromatherapy has been linked to improved sleep quality. Inhaling the scent of lavender may have a mild sedative effect, promoting relaxation.

Use lavender essential oil in a diffuser in your bedroom or enjoying a warm lavender-infused bath as part of your evening routine to create a peaceful atmosphere conducive to sleep.

These herbal allies provide gentle, natural alternatives to promote relaxation and prepare the body and mind for a restful night’s sleep.

While individual responses may vary, integrating these herbs into your bedtime routine can contribute to a holistic management of your sleep patterns.

Foods to Avoid Before Bed

Being mindful of the types of foods you consume in the evening can play an important role in promoting better sleep. Minimize caffeine, sugar, and heavy or spicy foods to create an environment that supports the body’s natural sleep processes and incorporate sleep-inducing foods and herbal allies for a more restful night.

Caffeine-Rich Foods

Coffee: Coffee is a well-known stimulant that can interfere with the ability to fall asleep. Avoid consuming coffee in the hours leading up to bedtime to allow the stimulating effects of caffeine to wear off.

Tea: Tea, particularly black and green tea, contains caffeine. Choose caffeine-free herbal teas if you desire a warm beverage before bed, ensuring it won’t disrupt your sleep.

Chocolate: Chocolate contains theobromine, a stimulant similar to caffeine. Dark chocolate, in particular, has higher theobromine content, so it’s advisable to limit chocolate consumption in the evening.

High-Sugar Foods

Sweets and Desserts: Foods high in sugar can lead to spikes in blood sugar levels, potentially disrupting sleep. Minimize the intake of sugary desserts and candies close to bedtime.

Sweetened Beverages: Avoid sugary drinks, including sodas and fruit juices, before bedtime. Choose water or herbal teas as more sleep-friendly alternatives.

Heavy and Spicy Meals

Rich and Fatty Foods: Heavy, rich, and fatty meals can lead to discomfort and indigestion, making it harder to sleep peacefully. Try to have your main meal earlier in the evening and opt for lighter snacks if needed.

Spicy Foods: These foods can cause heartburn or indigestion, making it uncomfortable to lie down and potentially disrupting sleep. Consider avoiding spicy dishes close to bedtime.

Sleep-Inducing Beverages

These sleep-inducing beverages offer not only physiological benefits but also the comforting ritual of winding down with a warm and soothing drink. Try out various options to discover which ones work best for you.

Warm Milk

Warm milk is a classic bedtime beverage that holds merit in promoting sleep. Milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid precursor to serotonin and melatonin, which are crucial for regulating sleep.

The warmth of the milk can also have a soothing effect, making it a comforting and traditional choice for those looking to unwind before bedtime.

While there’s little evidence to support a clear link between dairy and dozing, the calming ritual of having a warm (caffeine-free) beverage before bed may simply have a positive psychological effect that makes falling asleep easier. The best way to know what works is to try it for yourself. 

Herbal Teas

Chamomile Tea and Peppermint Tea are known favorites.

Tart Cherry Juice

Tart cherry juice contains melatonin and may contribute to improved sleep duration and quality. Drinking a small glass of tart cherry juice in the evening can be a tasty way to boost your melatonin levels naturally.

Hydration Tips for Better Sleep

Stay Hydrated Throughout the Day: Ensure adequate hydration during the day, but limit the intake of fluids close to bedtime to prevent disruptions from frequent trips to the bathroom.

Herbal Tea Before Bed: Wind down with a cup of caffeine-free herbal tea like chamomile or peppermint. The warmth and soothing properties can signal to your body that it is time to relax.

Tart Cherry Juice: If you enjoy a bedtime beverage, consider incorporating a small glass of tart cherry juice. Its melatonin content may contribute to a more seamless transition into sleep.

Creating a sleep-friendly diet plan involves thoughtful choices throughout the day, incorporating nutrient-rich foods that support relaxation and the body’s natural sleep processes while staying well hydrated.

Lifestyle Tips for Improved Sleep

Create a regular sleep schedule because a consistent bedtime helps regulate your body’s internal clock, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up naturally. Aim for the same bedtime each night, even on weekends and develop a relaxing bedtime routine.

Engage in regular physical activity, but try to complete vigorous exercise earlier in the day. Exercise can promote better sleep, but intense workouts close to bedtime might have the opposite effect.

Practice deep breathing or progressive muscle relaxation techniques before bedtime. These exercises can help calm the nervous system and reduce stress, making it easier to transition into a restful sleep.

Reduce exposure to screens (phones, tablets, computers) at least an hour before bedtime. The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone crucial for sleep.

Create a comfortable sleep environment: Ensure your bedroom is conducive to sleep by maintaining a cool, dark, and quiet space. Invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows to support restful sleep.

Avoid stress – Another way food can keep you up at night is from stressing about it. Restricting food choices or going to bed hungry can leave your mind and body feeling stressed out, which has a direct impact on your quality of sleep.

Do what works best for you – and do not let food keep you up at night! 

Conclusion – Foods that Promote Better Sleep

We all need more rest. What if the foods you eat – and the ones you avoid – could put you to sleep? Experimenting with a variety of these options allows for a personalized strategy that suits individual preferences and dietary needs.

A holistic approach that addresses both dietary choices and lifestyle habits is key to achieving sustained improvements in sleep quality. Try out these suggestions to find the combination that works best for you, and enjoy the benefits of a more rejuvenating night’s sleep.

Always consult with your healthcare professional for personalized advice as they can also provide valuable insights tailored to your unique needs.

Related Articles

References

The best foods to help you sleep: https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/food-and-drink-promote-good-nights-sleep  

2 thoughts on “10 Foods that Promote Better Sleep – Tips”

    • Delighted that you found value in this article Amy! I am a firm believer in “natural” first. There are also several articles on natural remedies on the website you may find helpful as well.

      Ceci

      Reply

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