Foods That Help You Sleep: Eat Your Sleep Issues Away

written by / April 13, 2022
Foods That Help You Sleep - Featured

Everybody’s talking about the amazing health benefits of a good night’s rest. And although we don’t want to sound repetitive, we can’t emphasize enough how important sleep is for our well-being. It boosts our immune system, keeps our hearts healthy, improves memory, prevents certain types of cancer, and much more.

Therefore, getting the recommended 7–9 hours of slumber every night is crucial. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to improve your sleep quality, and one of them is changing your diet. 

Read on to learn more about the foods that help you sleep!

Meat, Fish, and Dairy


It’s a common belief that turkey makes us feel sleepy. This comes from the fact that it’s rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that promotes the production of melatonin, a sleep-regulating hormone

However, things aren’t that simple. First, other poultry also contains tryptophan, meaning chicken meat can be just as effective as turkey. Second, eating meat and expecting to fall asleep on the spot simply won’t work.

You’ll actually need to eat turkey in combination with carbohydrates because they help this amino acid enter the brain. Still, no need to go overboard with carbs — a small portion of 30 grams will suffice. So these together create a perfect combo of the foods that can help you sleep better.

Although we need more scientific evidence to support turkey’s role in promoting sleep, you can try eating turkey with a small piece of whole-grain bread or rice before bedtime. Besides helping you get some much-needed shut-eye, this meat is an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

Fatty Fish

Apart from the numerous health benefits, salmon, tuna, trout, and other fatty fish are also known as foods that help you go to sleep.

Let’s take a quick recap. 

They’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which:

  • reduce chronic inflammation
  • prevent Alzheimer’s disease
  • improve heart health

Moreover, fatty fish are known for having high concentrations of vitamin D. These nutrients help regulate dopamine neurotransmitters in our bodies, as well as the production of serotonin — a hormone that regulates our sleep cycle. That’s why fatty fish is often considered an excellent food for both insomnia and anxiety.

One study compared the sleep quality of men eating Atlantic salmon three times a week to that of men eating chicken, beef, and pork. According to their findings, fatty fish positively affected sleep, thanks to its high vitamin D content.

So if you have problems falling or staying asleep, you might try eating a few ounces of salmon before bed to improve your night’s rest.


Many of us associate a warm glass of milk with a good night’s sleep. Although milk is indeed one of the best melatonin-rich foods that also contain calcium, vitamin D, and tryptophan — all of which can enhance sleep quality — we need more data to prove the positive effects of milk on our slumber.

However, having a cup of milk before bed can have positive psychological effects since it may remind us of our childhood and help us unwind. In fact, many experts recommend introducing a relaxing ritual into our bedtime routine since our brain likes predictability. 

So why not try this simple trick to prepare your mind and body for a night’s rest?

Vegetables and Grains

White Rice

According to an Australian study, the foods that help you sleep better and fall asleep more quickly are those with a high glycemic index (GI). The glycemic index is a value that shows the rate at which a certain type of food raises blood glucose levels. 

Since white rice is high in carbohydrates, it has a high GI, meaning it’s great at promoting sleep. Similarly, pasta, bread, and potatoes may promote good sleep. As one study suggests, you should eat these sleep-inducing foods at least an hour before going to bed to improve your sleep quality.

Barley Grass Powder

Barley grass powder offers a wide range of health benefits. According to a recent scientific paper, this dietary supplement can, among other things:

  • regulate blood pressure
  • boost the immune system
  • alleviate depression
  • prevent cardiovascular diseases

Additionally, it promotes sleep thanks to its content of calcium, magnesium, and tryptophan. It also contains GABA, an amino acid that plays an important role in sleep regulation.

So if you want foods that not only help you sleep but also fight insomnia, try this powerful powder. Depending on your preferences, here are a few bedtime snack ideas. You could also add barley grass powder to a healthy smoothie, salad dressing, or soup.


Salad is the perfect choice if you’re looking for a light meal before bedtime. Researchers gave lettuce extract to mice to test its sleep-promoting effects. Their findings show that lettuce is one of the best sleep-inducing foods that also prolongs sleep duration.

Not only that, but a certain compound found in lettuce — namely, n-butanol fraction — can also decrease the time needed to fall asleep. So there’s definitely a positive correlation between this food and sleep quality.



Besides having numerous health benefits, such as reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease, almonds can contribute to a great night’s sleep. Thanks to their high melatonin content, these foods are perfect for deep sleep and can help people fight insomnia without having to resort to sleeping pills.

In addition, one ounce of almonds provides 19% of your daily needs of magnesium, a mineral that can boost sleep quality and alleviate insomnia symptoms. According to one experimental study, rats slept better when they were fed with almond extract.

If you’d like to get more shut-eye, you can try eating a handful of almonds before bedtime. They might prove to be one of the best foods for sleep.


Walnuts are another type of tree nut that can boost sleep quality due to their melatonin content. Moreover, walnuts make an ideal diabetic bedtime snack since they’re low on sugar but rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may promote the production of serotonin — another important sleep-regulating hormone.

Although more research is necessary to examine the walnut’s effects on slumber, you can eat about an ounce of walnuts before bed to see whether they’re indeed snacks that help you sleep. If nothing else, they’re really healthy for your heart.


Bananas are probably the best fruit to eat before bed. Here’s why: they contain tryptophan — an amino acid whose role we’ve already discussed.

Additionally, bananas are a good source of magnesium, a healthy nutrient that relaxes our muscles and helps people with insomnia sleep better. Being rich in carbs also makes them a perfect bedtime snack since carbohydrates can promote sleepiness.

Kiwi Fruits

Based on a study that included people with sleep problems, kiwi fruits were found to be among the foods that will help you sleep better. The study’s findings show that this nutritious fruit can help people fall asleep more quickly and sleep longer. 

So if you’re looking for foods that help you relax and sleep, look no further than kiwi fruits!

The positive effects of kiwi fruits on sleep can be explained by their serotonin content, a hormone that regulates our sleep cycle. According to some studies, antioxidants can also promote sleep because they reduce inflammation

With this in mind, we should point out that kiwis are also rich in vitamin C and carotenoids. So far, it looks like they’re an excellent fruit for sleep!

While scientists are busy with further research into the relationship between kiwis and sleep quality, you can test this fruit yourself. Before bed, have one to two kiwis and see whether they’re truly among the best foods to eat for sleep.

Tart Cherry Juice

Tart cherry juice is a rich source of melatonin — a hormone that our bodies naturally produce when the sun sets to prepare for sleep. Therefore, this tasty drink has outstanding potential for treating insomnia

Participants in one study reported that they slept longer when they drank this juice. Nevertheless, further research is needed to examine the effects of tart cherries on sleep quality.

Calming Tea Options

Chamomile Tea

Other drinks that help you sleep include herbal teas. As you probably know, chamomile tea is a traditional home remedy for sleep problems. However, studies show somewhat controversial results. 

Some studies have found that this herbal tea positively affects sleep quality, while others don’t support this claim. Chamomile’s calming properties are usually associated with its apigenin content, known for its sedative effects.

Passionflower Tea

Passionflower tea is another one in the series of drinks that help you sleep at night. Just like chamomile, it contains apigenin, which is responsible for its calming effect.

Based on the experimental findings, this natural sleep aid may also improve sleep quality. However, more research must be done before verifying its effects.


Work and family responsibilities often don’t leave us much time to sleep. A good night’s rest allows us to be more productive at work, more patient with our children, and generally behave better as people. So make sleep your priority.

You can try to boost your slumber’s duration and quality by adjusting your daily menu. Have some tuna, white rice, almonds, or other foods that help you sleep at night. However, don’t forget to avoid alcohol, coffee, energy drinks, and other caffeinated beverages, which can negatively affect your sleep.


What foods help you fall asleep?

In general, further research is necessary in order to get more concrete proof of the effects of natural remedies on sleep problems. That said, some superfoods may have sleep-inducing properties, according to anecdotal evidence.

They include foods with a high content of carbohydrates, such as white rice and potatoes. Also, some fruits and nuts contain sleep-promoting compounds, such as melatonin, tryptophan, and magnesium.

Do eggs help you sleep?

Eating eggs with your dinner can help you sleep better. This extremely nutritious food is rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that boosts the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. However, you should combine eggs with other foods that make you sleep at night, such as carbs, since they help the tryptophan reach your brain.

Do bananas help you sleep?

Yes, bananas are an excellent choice for a bedtime snack. They contain tryptophan, which promotes melatonin production. They are also a good source of magnesium and carbs, both of which help promote good sleep.

What to drink to sleep faster?

There are several options depending on your preferences. Herbal teas, like chamomile and passionflower, are well-known for their calming effects. Another great drink that will make you sleepy is tart cherry juice, which spikes melatonin levels in your blood. 

Finally, a cup of warm milk is famous for helping people get some shut-eye. Although we need more scientific proof for its sleep-inducing effects, having a cup of milk is a great bedtime ritual to help you relax.

However, avoid drinking wine and other alcoholic drinks that help you sleep at first. That’s because they can interfere with the quality of your sleep. 

Does bread help you sleep?

It depends on the type of bread. Whole-grain varieties are rich in magnesium and other vital minerals necessary for sleep. Hence, you could say that it fits the bill of foods that help you sleep.

Simple carbs, especially those made with sugar and white flour, such as cookies, cakes, pasta, and pastry, should be avoided.

Before I started working as a sleep expert, I always envied people who were passionate about their jobs. Now I finally have an opportunity to do something I truly enjoy, and no, I can’t sleep at work! For me, it’s definitely as good as it gets—as I spend a considerable amount of time lying down on various mattresses, testing sleeping products, and reviewing them to help guide you to your ideal sleeping situation. Plus, I work tightly with other sleep experts and doctors to provide you with valuable information and helpful advice about sleep.

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