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Foods That Can Improve Sleep

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  • Sleep and Food

    Sleep and Food

    Sleep is the body’s recovery phase of the day. This is when muscles can repair, the brain can recharge, and other benefits occur that we still don’t fully understand.

    Studies have shown that insufficient sleep causes us to seek out high-calorie foods the next day. This can prolong the disrupted sleep cycle and result in poor overall health. New research has confirmed what doctors have been saying for a long time: food and sleep go hand in hand.

    There are some foods and small dietary changes you can incorporate into your day for a more restful night.  

    Find out what is keeping you from falling asleep »

  • Chamomile Tea

    Chamomile Tea

    Tea is often a favorite choice when it’s time to wind down. Several decaffeinated teas help promote sleepiness, but do any of them work as advertised?

    Chamomile tea has been used as a natural tranquilizer and sleep-inducer and some research shows that this is very true. The warmth of the water can also raise body temperature, which is like being wrapped in a warm blanket. Hello, Snoozeville.

    (Beware: some people may be allergic, especially people who are allergic to daisies or ragweed.)

  • A Glass of Warm Milk

    A Glass of Warm Milk

    Mom’s remedy never fails. A warm glass of milk before bed can help you sleep better. Besides the soothing sipping, milk contains tryptophan, an amino acid linked to better sleep. Research has shown that the tryptophan in a mother’s breast milk contributes to a baby’s healthy sleep patterns.

    Besides milk, tryptophan comes in high concentrations in Parmesan and cheddar cheese. Some cheese and crackers before bed may help you nod off peacefully. 

  • Tryptophan-Heavy Proteins

    Tryptophan-Heavy Proteins

    Tryptophan is most notoriously known for the sleepy feeling that comes after eating a Thanksgiving turkey dinner. While tryptophan is present in turkey, its levels are similar to that of any other protein and not high enough to knock you out.

    Tryptophan is highest in:

    • egg whites
    • Atlantic cod
    • pork chops
    • chicken
    • beef
    • salmon
    • lamb chops

    Tryptophan is also high in some plant proteins, including:

    • sesame and sunflower seeds
    • spirulina
    • soybeans
    • oats
    • wheat flour 
  • Bananas


    Bananas not only contain some tryptophan, they’re also rich in potassium. This is an important element to human health and a natural muscle relaxant too. Some research has shown that people who consume enough potassium went to sleep faster and stayed asleep more through the night.

    Bananas also contain magnesium. A double-blind placebo-controlled study found that increasing a person’s magnesium can help treat insomnia and other sleep-related problems. 

  • Other Sources of Magnesium

    Other Sources of Magnesium

    Other food sources rich in magnesium include:

    • spinach, kale, broccoli and dark green vegetables
    • milk: highest in non-skim milk
    • cereals, oatmeal, and bran flakes
    • sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, and walnuts

    Besides healthy sleep, getting the right amount of magnesium can help prevent stroke, heart attack, and bone diseases. 

  • Melatonin


    Melatonin is a hormone produced in your body. It’s partially responsible for regulating a person’s sleep cycle, or circadian rhythm. It’s available in supplement form and touted as a sleep-inducing drug. The National Institutes of Health states that melatonin is possibly effective for sleeping problems.

    Foods with naturally occurring melatonin include:

    • tart cherry juice
    • orange bell peppers
    • walnuts
    • tomatoes
    • flaxseeds
    • almonds
    • raspberries 
  • Things to Cut Out

    Things to Cut Out

    Besides adding things to your diet, there are things you can cut out to make bedtime more bearable. The obvious culprit is caffeine. It comes in more forms than the last cup of coffee to get you through the weekday. Chocolate, many teas, and countless “energy” drinks and products can also make sleep elusive.

    Cut out alcohol if you’re really in need for quality sleep. While it may make you feel sleepy, it reduces the quality of your sleep. 

  • Other Small Changes You Can Make

    Other Small Changes You Can Make

    Just as the calories you put in makes a difference, the ones you expel are just as important. Thirty minutes a day of cardiovascular exercise is key to overall health, as well as helping your body shut down at night.

    Another small change is avoiding screen time in bed. This includes TV, tablets, and smartphones. Research shows that limited screen time can help improve sleep. So stop reading this and go to sleep.