What to Eat for Better Sleep

What to Eat for Better Sleep

When it comes to getting a better night’s rest, there are an infinite amount of things we try. Changing our pillows and bed sheets, meditating before bedtime, and playing a sleep-themed podcast are all starters in our endeavor for better sleep. What many do not consider is how the foods we eat affect our ability to fall, and stay, asleep.

Our diets are our sustenance for the day, but they could also be what keeps us up at night. Unsure of how my diet was affecting my sleep patterns, I began researching some dietary options which are not only tasty, but promote a solid night’s sleep. I also came across certain foods to avoid if you, like me, find yourself struggling to fall asleep at night.

I discovered that a balanced diet can lead to heavier sleep. According to the article Effects of Diet on Sleep Quality, “increasing fruit and vegetable intakes, choosing whole grains (higher in fiber), and favoring vegetable oils (low in saturated fat)” seems to be beneficial to both health and sleep. I dove a bit deeper into what constitutes a balanced diet to find well-rounded foods that provide everything I need to feel healthy (and sleepy).

Complex carbohydrates

Oats, sweet potatoes, whole grain bread, and quinoa

Complex carbohydrates are first on many lists of foods that promote sleep. Meaning, do not stray away from grains as you prepare your meals. According to Cleveland Clinic’s article 5 Foods That Help You Sleep, complex carbohydrates increase your serotonin levels, which makes them sleep inducers.

Women’s Health’s list of complex carbs includes oats, sweet potatoes, whole grain bread and quinoa. When choosing your carbs, look for unrefined grains. These tend to hold more nutrients, and even include snacks such as popcorn and whole-wheat crackers.


Eggs, salmon, tofu, nuts, and seeds

Speaking of serotonin levels, Healthline’s article 7 Foods That Could Boost Your Serotonin: The Serotonin Diet, describes how serotonin is not only a natural sleep inducer but a mood booster. Feeling happy and healthy can prepare you for a good night’s rest.

These foods include proteins such as eggs, salmon, tofu, nuts, and seeds. Pair these proteins with your favorite complex carbohydrate and veggie of choice to begin building a full meal. Enjoy the added bonus of feeling happier with each bite.

Avoid excess sugar in the evening

I always crave sweet treats after dinner, but enjoying desserts late in the evening is also an unwanted energy-booster. As it can be difficult to say no to sugar altogether, try moving the intake of sweets to earlier in the day rather than right before bed. Sugar can not only be energizing at night, but can also cause an upset stomach when you lay down to rest, according to Best Health’s How Sugar is Ruining Your Sleep (And How to Fix It).

If ice cream, cookies, or other cravings are your last meal of the night (like they are mine), try opting for an alternative snack. The article Effects of Diet on Sleep Quality demonstrates evidence that kiwi and cherries are sleep-inducing fruits to add to your diet. The natural sugars in fruits might be enough to meet your sweet cravings.

Avoid caffeine in the evening

A cup of coffee after dinner or a last-minute latte to finish your work for the day is all too enticing. However, caffeine that is meant to boost you during your day could still be keeping you up late into the night. While everyone is affected by caffeine in different ways, according to Healthline, high intakes can often lead to insomnia.

If you are less tolerant to the effects of caffeine, keep your cup of coffee to the morning time. This allows you to burn off any excess energy during the day. Be sure to check the ingredients of your favorite drinks and snacks to ensure there are no hidden caffeine sources in your diet.

Try a warm tea

If you are itching for a warm drink before bed (or just want to fall asleep faster), try a sleep tea. Tea is a nice replacement for any caffeinated beverage, and provides that warm fuzzy feeling we need to relax. There are many different natural flavors which calm you down before bedtime, including lavender or chamomile. Be sure to find something decaffeinated! Check out Coop’s recommendations for The Best Teas for Good Night’s Sleep to find the best flavor for you.

Which tasty option will you go for?

If you are often finding yourself struggling to fall asleep, it may be time to try some of these tasty options. Be sure to include all the food groups in your meals to energize your body for the day, and prepare it for sleep at night.

Do you have a favorite pre-bedtime snack? Let us know in the comments below.