When you eat well, you support healthy sleep. There are certain foods that you should promote or avoid if you want to sleep better.
In general, foods that impact the production of melatonin, serotonin, or contain tryptophan are supportive of sleep. Vitamins and minerals including calcium, magnesium, and B6 can be helpful for promoting good sleep as well.
Foods With Tryptophan
Foods with tryptophan can support production of serotonin, which creates melatonin, the hormone that makes you feel sleepy and regulates sleep and wake cycles.
Tryptophan rich foods include:
- Dairy, including cheese and milk
Additionally, carbohydrate rich foods can support production of tryptophan. Research indicates pairing carbohydrates with healthy fats can help make you feel sleepy. The higher the glycemic index (complex carbohydrates), the faster it will help you fall asleep. Pair complex carbohydrates with proteins, and you can keep your blood sugar stable through the night.
Good choices for carbohydrate rich foods include:
- Dairy products
- Whole grain bread
- Whole grain pasta
- Sweet potatoes
Melatonin Rich Foods
Although foods with tryptophan can support production of the sleep hormone melatonin, there are some foods that are naturally rich in melatonin already. These include:
Foods that are a good source of the vitamin B6 can support your body’s production of melatonin. These foods include:
- Fatty fish
- Chickpeas (found in hummus)
- Raw garlic
Calcium Rich Foods
If you’re waking up at night and finding it difficult to get back to sleep, you may have a calcium deficiency. Eating foods rich in calcium before bed and throughout the day can help you stay asleep through the night. Choose foods including:
- Leafy greens
Foods That Support Sleep
Overall, the foods that support a healthy diet also support healthy sleep. These include:
- Dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt
- Whole grains
- Leafy greens
Foods to Avoid for Healthy Sleep
But not all food is helpful for supporting healthy sleep. There are some foods that can make it difficult to sleep well or fall asleep and should be avoided. For example, a large, fatty meal can take significant energy to digest, and eating that before bed can shift your body’s focus from sleeping to digestion. Foods to avoid for healthy sleep include:
- Late night coffee or other sources of caffeine
- Alcohol, which can make your sleep more shallow
- Fatty, sugary foods
- Heavy meals
Healthy Sleep Habits
Of course, food isn’t the only factor in a good night’s sleep. Eating a healthy diet won’t help you sleep well if you’re not supporting good sleep with healthy sleep habits.
Healthy sleep habits include:
- Following a regular bedtime routine
- Scheduling enough time to sleep at night
- Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule
- Treating sleep disorders
- Creating a healthy sleep environment, including choosing the right mattress
Eating well and sleeping well go hand in hand. If your diet or sleep habits need improvement, you could be sabotaging healthy sleep. Consider improving your diet with foods that support sleep and following healthy sleep habits for a better night’s sleep.