woman sound asleep laying in bed.
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
June 3, 2024 ·  5 min read

14 Foods To Help You Sleep (+ Foods to Avoid)

Getting adequate sleep is crucial for overall health and well-being. Despite sleep’s importance, many of us still struggle to have consistent, high-quality shut-eye. One of the key factors that contribute to a good night’s sleep is a well-balanced diet. Certain foods have been shown to have sleep-enhancing properties, while others may hinder the quality of sleep. In this article, we will explore 14 foods that can help you sleep better, along with foods to avoid for a restful night. 

The Importance of Sleep

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Quality sleep is essential for the body to restore and repair itself. Adequate sleep not only contributes to physical health but also impacts cognitive function, emotional well-being, and overall productivity. Lack of proper sleep has been linked to an increased risk of chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. It is recommended that adults aim for 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night for optimal health and function. (1)

Read More: This is what sleeping on the left side does for our brain, stomach & glymphatic health

What is Sleep Hygiene?

Classic alarm clock, sleeping mask, sleep tracker and herbal tea on blue background.  Minimal concept of rest, quality of sleep, good night, insomnia, relaxation. Copy space
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Sleep hygiene refers to the practices and habits that are conducive to getting a good night’s sleep. This includes maintaining a consistent sleep schedule, creating a comfortable sleeping environment, and avoiding substances that disrupt sleep, such as caffeine and alcohol, before bedtime. Getting your sleep hygiene locked in will help you so that you sleep well more often than not. (2)

14 Foods to Help You Sleep

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What we eat has a huge impact on our body. This isn’t just about calories and nutrients but about the actual functioning of our entire body and its systems. When it comes to sleeping, there are some foods that work with you to help you get to dreamland and others that will leave you lying awake all night. These are some of the best foods to help you fall asleep quicker and improve both the duration and quality of your sleep.

1. Turkey

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Turkey is a good source of protein and contains the amino acid tryptophan, which promotes the production of melatonin, a hormone responsible for regulating sleep cycles. (3)

2. Almonds

Delicious sweet almonds in wooden bowl on rustic background, roasted almond nut, healthy food
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Almonds are rich in magnesium and contain healthy monounsaturated fats and antioxidants, which may help in promoting better sleep quality. (4)

3. Kiwi

kivi Fruits Wallpaper on Top view
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Kiwis are low in calories and high in serotonin, which is known to regulate sleep cycles, making them a good option for promoting better sleep. (5)

4. Chamomile Tea

Herbal tea, chamomile flowers and honey on rattan matting Close-up
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Chamomile tea contains apigenin, an antioxidant that binds to certain receptors in the brain, promoting relaxation and better sleep. (6)

5. Fatty Fish

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Fatty fish, such as salmon, trout, and mackerel, are high in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which have been associated with improved sleep quality. (7)

6. Tart Cherry Juice

Cherry Juice Studio Photo
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Tart cherry juice is a rich source of melatonin, which may help regulate the sleep-wake cycle and improve sleep duration and quality. (8)

7. White Rice

Read More: Sweating In Your Sleep? 7 Possible Reasons for Night Sweats

Top Table View Of Thai Jasmine Rice in Wooden Bowl,  staple food of Thailand and Asia, providing energy in every meal.
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White rice has a high glycemic index and may help improve sleep quality, especially when consumed at least an hour before bedtime. (9)

8. Passionflower Tea

Passion flower, the medicinal plant
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Passionflower tea, rich in flavonoid antioxidants, may promote relaxation and better sleep due to its calming properties. (10)

9. Dairy Products

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Dairy products, such as milk and yogurt, are sources of tryptophan and may improve sleep, particularly when combined with light exercise.

10. Bananas

Close up shot of group of bananas
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Bananas contain magnesium, which can help relax muscles and promote better sleep.

11. Oatmeal

Oatmeal porridge in white bowl, close up view.
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Oatmeal is high in carbs and fiber and has been reported to induce drowsiness when consumed before bed. It is also a source of melatonin, which can aid in better sleep. (11)

12. Seeds

Pumpkin and sunflower seeds
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Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, and sunflower seeds are rich in magnesium, which may help relax the body and improve sleep.

13. Peanuts

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Peanuts are a good source of niacin and folate, which contribute to the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates sleep. (12)

Read More: 21-Year-Old Sentenced To 10 Days in Jail for Oversleeping, Missing His Jury Duty

14. Walnuts

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Walnuts contain melatonin and may help improve sleep quality due to their healthy fats and antioxidants. (13)

Foods to Avoid for a Good Night’s Sleep

Asian woman sleep after eating junk food with pizza, potato chips and glass of beer on desk, bad habit, unhealthy lifestyle concept
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In contrast, there are certain foods and substances that can hinder sleep quality. These include caffeinated beverages, spicy or heavy meals close to bedtime, and excessive alcohol consumption. These foods and drinks can disrupt sleep patterns and should be avoided to promote a better night’s sleep. Also, if you are a person who is often woken up at night needing to use the bathroom, then avoiding drinking too much liquid before bedtime is a good idea. This includes some of the previously mentioned nighttime teas.

The Bottom Line

Beautiful Brunette is Waking up in the Morning, Stretches in the Bed, Sun Shines on Her From the Big Window. Happy Young Girl Greets New Day with Warm Sunlight Flare.
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Incorporating sleep-promoting foods into your diet, along with practicing good sleep hygiene, can significantly contribute to improved sleep quality and overall well-being. While dietary adjustments can be a helpful component of a healthy sleep regimen, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice on improving sleep patterns and overall health.

Read More: The Benefits of CBD for People with Insomnia and Other Sleep Disorders


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  2. Mastering Sleep Hygiene: Your Path to Quality Sleep.” Sleep Foundation. Eric Suni and Dr. David Rosen. March 4, 2024.
  3. Tryptophan.” Medline Plus
  4. Does Magnesium Help You Sleep?Cleveland Clinic. June 28, 2021.
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  11. Healthy Bedtime Snacks To Eat Before Sleep.” Sleep Foundation. Danielle Pacheco and Dr. Lulu Guo. April 22, 2024.
  12. Dietary nutrients associated with short and long sleep duration. Data from a nationally representative sample.” NCBI. Michael A. Grandner, Nicholas Jackson, Jason R. Gerstner and Kristen L. Knutson. May 2014.
  13. Walnut Consumption Improves Sleep Quality: A Randomized-Controlled Trial.” MDPI. Maria Izquierdo-Pulido, et al. February 2024.