Food for Better Sleep – The Best and Worst Foods to Eat When you Can’t Sleep

chamomile tea before bed

There is one thing that many Americans strive to get more of…sleep! A variety of factors go into getting a good night’s rest — food being one of them. Not only are there many foods that provide better sleep, but there are also foods that prevent sleep and it’s important to understand how each affects your body.

Foods that Provide Better Sleep

Foods with melatonin, a natural sleep-regulating hormone, can help to improve sleep patterns. Additionally, foods with magnesium or certain antioxidants, like Vitamin E, can aid in restful sleep by binding to receptors in the brain. Almonds are a great source of melatonin and magnesium and a great example of what to eat at night to help you sleep.

We all know the feeling of being so full you either feel sick or are ready for a nap (some might call it a food-coma), especially after Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey, a common protein consumed during the holiday, has high amounts of tryptophan, an amino acid that increases the production of melatonin, which is what causes us to feel drowsy, overall, making it a great food to eat when you can’t sleep.

Deciding what to eat at night to help you sleep is extremely important, as well as what you drink. Chamomile tea has been proven to be a natural sleep aid as it’s filled with antioxidants that are connected to receptors in the brain, promote sleepiness and improve overall sleep quality.

Another delicious snack to ensure a good night’s rest is kiwi. Kiwis are rich in serotonin and antioxidants, which both aid in better overall sleep quality. Eating 1-2 kiwis before bed may help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Cottage cheese, white rice, milk, fish, and tart cherries are also great options to improve sleep.

Foods that Prevent Sleep

While there are many foods for better sleep, there are many foods that prevent sleep as well. Caffeine is one of the worst things you can consume before bedtime as it will keep you up at night. Chocolate contains high levels of caffeine, as well as theobromine, another stimulant that increases heart rate and sleeplessness.

Alcohol is one of the worst things to consume before bed. It metabolizes quickly in your system and will cause you to wake up multiple times throughout the night. Foods high in fiber and fat are also foods that prevent sleep and make for a restless night. Additionally, spicy and acidic foods are items you want to prevent eating before bed, as they can cause heartburn, preventing you from getting restful sleep.

Are you interested in learning more about the best and worst foods to eat when you can’t sleep? Join our next virtual Community Health Talk, From Plate to Pillow: Nutrition & Sleep, where Austin Tedder, MS, RDN, will discuss the best foods for better sleep. The Community Health Talk will take place on Tuesday, July 14 from 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m., you may register at the following link:

Register for From Plate to Pillow Today