Home / Blog January 31, 2020 Updated on March 02, 2022

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Which Foods Help You Sleep Better?

Keep reading to get the lowdown on what to snack on before you snooze.

Which Foods Help You Sleep Better?


If you have trouble sleeping, there are plenty of foods that are high in snooze-inducing compounds, like melatonin, magnesium, vitamin B6, and tryptophan.

Topping the list of sleep-promoting food and drinks include nuts and seeds, kiwi, fatty fish, mushrooms, bananas, and avocados.

Warm beverages can help you to wind down before bed, especially warm milk and hot herbal teas like chamomile and valerian root. Combine with a weighted blanket for the coziest pre-sleep routine ever.

Did you know?
Valerian root has been used for over 2,000 years to help reduce anxiety and promote relaxation and sleep - it’s even been called “nature’s Valium”. Drink up!

If you’re a chronic tosser-and-turner who can’t fall asleep with ease, you may have tried all the natural remedies already. We’ve of course talked about the benefits of weighted blankets in helping you fall asleep and stay asleep longer, but have you also considered what you’re eating before bed?

There are plenty of foods that are naturally high in vitamins, minerals, and hormones like melatonin that can help you get the rest you need. There are also quite a few foods you shouldn’t have right before bed if you want to get some quality shuteye. Keep reading to get the lowdown on what to snack on before you snooze.

Makin’ More Melatonin

Melatonin is the main hormone that regulates our sleep cycles and internal clocks. Ideally, your body would start producing more melatonin in the evening to help you wind down for bed.

However, there are plenty of things that can interfere with melatonin production, like using technology too close to bedtime or having caffeine in the evening. Other than taking a melatonin supplement or waiting for your body’s natural supply to kick in, scientists have found high amounts of melatonin in some common foods we eat.

There are some other substances in food that can help promote sleep, including tryptophan, magnesium, and vitamin B6. Tryptophan is an amino acid that promotes sleepiness by converting into serotonin, which then gets converted into melatonin; vitamin B6 helps to move this process along. Magnesium is a mineral that leads to relaxation by suppressing adrenaline and increasing the production of GABA, a brain chemical that helps you sleep.


Photo by Alexandru Acea on Unsplash

Top Foods To Help You Sleep Better

While none of these foods will immediately make you fall asleep, they can be helpful by promoting many of the vitamins, minerals, or amino acids that are associated with rest and relaxation. And, not to worry, eating these foods for breakfast won’t cause you to fall asleep during your morning commute! You’ll see more of the benefits at night, when your body’s natural melatonin production is already ramping up.

Nuts and seeds
Nuts like almonds, pistachios, and walnuts top the list of melatonin-containing foods that can help you sleep better, with pistachios having the highest level of melatonin. These nuts, along with Brazil nuts, pecans, and pumpkin seeds, also have beneficial amounts of magnesium to help promote sleep. Nuts and seeds with high amounts of tryptophan include cashews, almonds, pistachios, flaxseeds, and pumpkin seeds.

Tryptophan is probably most well-known for its association with turkey - have you ever gotten through a Thanksgiving dinner without someone mentioning that turkey makes them sleepy? Although your well-meaning relative likely just got drowsy from the massive meal they just ate, turkey does have a good dose of tryptophan in it.

However, chicken has similar levels as turkey, and neither poultry has as many sleep-promoting benefits as nuts do. (You can tell Aunt Suzy at the next Thanksgiving get-together than her pecan pie likely made her more sleepy than the turkey did.)

For all the vegans and vegetarians out there, tryptophan supplements and other options are worth considering. Just do your homework first to figure out what can work best with your existing diet and any other medications you may be taking.

Kiwi fruit has some great sleep-promoting compounds, such as melatonin and magnesium. There is some actual research on this, too. One study found that adults who ate 2 small kiwis before bed for a month had improvements in overall sleep time and sleep efficiency. If you want a sweet treat before bed, slice up some kiwis! Did you know you can eat the kiwi skin and get some extra nutrition benefits? Slice it thinly and you won’t even notice the fuzz!

Although not a typical snack before bed, mushrooms are a great source of dietary melatonin, so consider adding some fungi to your dinner meal. Mushrooms have been found to have both serotonin and tryptophan, meaning you may get an extra relaxation boost.


Photo by Harshal S. Hirve on Unsplash

Fatty fish, like salmon, tuna, and sardines, have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6 and magnesium, all of which make them good candidates for benefiting your sleep. These fish have plenty of other health benefits, too, like reducing inflammation and improving cognition. If you’re not a fish fan, a good fish oil supplement may provide similar advantages.

Bananas are superstars in terms of their potassium and magnesium levels, the combination of which can help promote restful sleep and also work to prevent leg cramping in the middle of the night - win-win!

Everyone’s favorite fatty fruit, the avocado, is also a big-time sleep helper. The high levels of unsaturated fat help promote serotonin production and the high amounts of magnesium help you to get you dozing. No judgment if you make an avocado toast for a bedtime snack - we’re guilty of it, too!

Top Drinks For Better Sleep

Herbal tea
The calming effects of herbal teas, especially chamomile and valerian root, can help you relax and drift off to sleep. A compound in both chamomile and valerian root has been found to activate GABA receptors, which can help stimulate the snoozing process.

herbal tea

Photo by Alison Marras on Unsplash

Not to mention, a steaming cup of hot tea in your hands is definitely associated with cozy relaxation time. Get your Bearaby weighted blanket on you and you’ll be snoozing in no time! (Just make sure to put the tea down, first.)

Warm milk
There’s a reason your mom made you warm milk when you were little - it actually can help you get to sleep! Milk has both melatonin and tryptophan to get your body winding down for bed, and warming it up helps with soothing and relaxing.

Tart cherry juice
Tart cherry juice has been well-studied for its health benefits, one of them being a sleepiness promoter! The juice has many antioxidants and vitamins that can reduce inflammation, making it a perfect beverage for athletes. One study found that insomniacs who drank tart cherry juice before bed for two weeks had improved sleep time by almost 90 minutes!

Food And Drink To Avoid For Better Sleep

Some things to stay away from before bed include alcohol, caffeine (that one’s a no-brainer), excess amounts of chocolate (put down the M&M’s), high-sugar desserts, and super spicy foods (especially if you’re prone to heartburn). Follow these tips and you’ll be hitting the hay sooner than you ever imagined!