Foods to Improve Sleep

Thinking About Another Aspect to Food

Information used in this blog is from an article titled “6 Foods for Better Sleep” posted by WTOP (Washington’s Top News). Citations include U.S. News & World Report as the source, and Lisa R. Young Ph.D. as the author. We will look at food recommendations that may improve your sleep. The article does note that the research behind sleep-inducing foods is inconclusive, but that the foods are healthy and worth a shot trying.


Foods to Try

Kiwis: According to the article, a study from Taipei Medical University “found that people who ate two kiwis an hour before bed fell asleep faster and slept longer and more efficiently.” In addition, the article notes that the fruit has high antioxidant levels and that its B vitamin folate could be sleep-promoting. The article also notes that a lack of folate has been connected with insomnia.

Tart cherries: You may have heard us speak extensively on the topic of melatonin and its benefits. According to the article, melatonin along with phytonutrient content may contribute to better sleep. Not only that, but the article also mentions that it contains anti-inflammatories. Regarding sleep time, it mentions this study saying, “people who drank ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) of tart cherry juice for a week slept around 40 minutes longer each night than those who drank placebo.” Lastly, it speaks to a study saying, “people with insomnia who started drinking tart cherry juice got over an hour’s more sleep each night.”

Nuts and seeds: Regarding these foods, the article cites their healthy fats as being able to curb hunger and pointing to this source that shows that their magnesium can have an effect on muscle relaxation. Linking back to melatonin, it states that almonds and walnuts contain it and that pumpkin seeds contain tryptophan. It notes that tryptophan is “a precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin, which can be converted to melatonin.”

Fatty fish: Citing the presence of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, the article states that “These nutrients may help regulate serotonin, a neurotransmitter made from the amino acid tryptophan, which helps to regulate sleep, mood and other functions.” Lastly, the article notes that fatty fish contains a high amount of protein which can promote sleep and that “studies show that the Mediterranean diet, which tends to include more fish instead of steak, has been associated with improved sleep quality in older adults.”

Herbal tea: The article begins this section by pointing to the idea that a hot beverage can be soothing and states that passionflower tea contains flavonoids that promote sleep. Citing this study, the article state that chamomile tea is “associated with short-term sleep benefits and improved mood in postpartum women.”

Warm Milk: Mentioning a possible connection between melatonin and tryptophan content and relaxing childhood memories, these are some of the reasons given as to why drinking warm milk can help. Young also mentions this recipe from her book by saying, “Moon milk, or warm milk spiced with natural flavorings like calming herbs, spices or fruit, not only tastes better than plain milk, but if you add a sleep-inducing aid, it may work double time. Try adding tart cherry juice to warm milk for a tastier alternative to warm milk.”



In all, we hope the above suggestions make a difference as you aim to get better sleep. As was mentioned at the beginning of this post, the research behind these recommendations is not conclusive, but they are worth a try. Between sleep-improving glasses, exercise, sticking to a sleep schedule, and possibly eating/drinking the recommendations in this article, each change can be a step in the right direction to improving something we all spend a significant portion of our lives doing. By getting better sleep, we know the benefits will cascade down to our waking lives.


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Photo by Vadim Markin on Unsplash