Foods That Improve Sleep – Eat and Sleep Better


Many of us struggle with getting a good night’s sleep and experience different harmful effects of poor sleep. We are looking for ways to improve the quality of sleep we get each night and although some people choose to turn to sleep aids or medication, I prefer a more natural approach. So, what can I eat to help improve my sleep? Fortunately, the following are 13 foods that improve sleep and also offer various other nutritional benefits.

#1. Walnuts

Walnuts are a great source of tryptophan – an amino acid that helps make serotonin and melatonin to help improve your sleep.

They also have numerous health benefits besides helping to induce sleep.

  • May reduce inflammation. Combine the walnuts with turmeric and black pepper for additional inflammation reduction.
  • Help manage Type 2 diabetes and even lower your risk of the disease
  • Assist in lowering your blood pressure
  • Supports healthy aging

#2. Almonds

Almonds are high in magnesium which is a mineral required for quality sleep but also for building bones and maintaining healthy joints and ligaments. When a person’s magnesium levels drop too low, sleep is affected. Once you are asleep, the magnesium will help you stay asleep, and thus, you will feel more rested in the morning.

Be aware that like all nuts, almonds can be quite high in fat so you do not want to be consuming handfuls of them.

#3. Cheese and Crackers

I am sure you have heard a time or two to drink warm milk to put you to sleep. Well, luckily it isn’t just warm milk that will work for you. The reality is most dairy products are foods that improve sleep.

The calcium (in cheese, yogurt, milk) aids the brain to use the tryptophan found in the dairy foods to create melatonin which triggers sleep.

#4. Lettuce

Eat your veggies! Eat your veggies! We all know that eating our vegetables is incredibly important to remain healthy. However, another added benefit is that lettuce can actually help with your sleep. It contains lactucarium – “lettuce opium” – a milky substance found often in the stems of lettuce that produces a sedative effect on the brain similar to opium.

If you prefer not to eat lettuce in its raw, crunchy state, you can try simmering three to four leaves in a cup of hot water for 15 minutes. Remove it from the heat source, add a bit of fresh mint, and sip just before you go to bed. Lettuce tea – just another one of the foods that improve sleep.

#5. Pretzels

Pretzels have a high glycemic index. After you eat them, you will experience a natural spike in your blood sugar and insulin levels which, in turn, can shorten the time it takes to fall asleep.

Generally, you want to maintain your blood sugar levels. However, if you are looking to get some rest, the rise in your blood sugar and insulin helps tryptophan access your brain to encourage sleep.

#6. Tuna

Tuna and other fish like halibut and salmon are high in vitamin B6 which your body calls for to make melatonin and serotonin. Other foods that contain high levels of B6 are raw garlic, eggs, whole grain bread, chicken, and turkey.

You may be inclined to add additional seasonings like salt and mayonnaise but be wary as those things can increase your blood pressure as well as your fat intake quite readily. Season with fresh herbs or a squeeze from a fresh lemon.

#7. White Rice

Like the pretzels, white rice also has a high glycemic index which dramatically reduces the time it takes to fall asleep.

Specifically, jasmine rice encourages sleep quicker. I do caution those who are diabetic that foods with high glycemic indexes are not advisable to be used to induce sleep.

#8. Cereal

Eating a bowl of cereal with milk before bedtime can help you get better sleep. The cereal contains carbohydrates whereas the milk contains calcium – both components that are part of these foods that improve sleep.

Again, be cautious with this choice. Every cereal is not equal to another nutritionally. You do not want to be reaching for a bowl of sugary, food color-laden cereals. This can be damaging to your teeth and offer little to your body from a nutritional standpoint. Instead, reach for those whole-grain cereals as your nightly snack.

#9. Chamomile Tea

Sipping on a hot cup of chamomile tea in the evening before bedtime can make you sleepy. It abundantly contains an antioxidant called apigenin that acts almost like a mild tranquilizer.

Chamomile tea can also reduce inflammation and calm anxiety. Make it a part of your usual bedtime routine and sleep will come more easily.

#10. Honey

Honey contains natural sugar which your body can more easily process. Add a bit to your chamomile tea to slightly raise your insulin levels and as stated previously, and allows tryptophan to access your brain more readily. All you need is a spoonful, on its own, or mixed in your tea or even in your cup of warm lemon water.

#11. Kale and Spinach

Dark green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach contain high levels of calcium. Your brain uses that calcium to use the tryptophan to generate melatonin.

When choosing leafy vegetables, avoid ones like iceberg lettuce as it contains little nutritional value. Go for ones that are dark green in colour.

#12. Shrimp and Lobster

OK, seriously, who doesn’t like shrimp and lobster? It may not be feasible to eat these every day but knowing that they, too, contain tryptophan, you can justify eating that fancy shrimp cocktail when you go out for dinner.

#13. Hummus

The main ingredient in hummus is the garbanzo bean which has numerous health benefits.

This bean contains a fair amount of tryptophan and hummus alongside whole-grain crackers is a great alternative to nutritionally-void snacks like potato chips or candy.

In addition to helping you sleep better, the chickpeas can also control blood sugar levels, assist in controlling your appetite, has various digestive benefits. Dip away!

Final Thoughts…

There is nothing that makes a long day even longer than trying to get through it without a quality sleep the night before. Our bodies feel sluggish and our brains just cannot seem to operate as we need them to do.

Eating a healthy diet including some of the above-mentioned foods that improve sleep.  They can help you attain that restful sleep your body so desperately needs for you to be at your best, day after day!

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