What To Eat For A Better Night's Sleep

BlogHer Original Post

Did you know that getting enough sleep is as important to good health as nutrition and exercise? It's true. And if you're not getting enough sleep, you may be putting both your emotional and physical health at risk.

Could something you're eating be causing you sleepless nights? Are there foods that can help you have a better night's sleep? If you're one of the millions of people who just can't seem to get enough sleep, maybe it's something you're eating (or not eating).

When it comes to food, what you DON'T eat is much more important than what you do eat.

Foods and Drinks to Avoid for Better Sleep

  • Always avoid large or heavy meals too close to bedtime. Digestive disturbances can interfere with sleep.
  • If you are prone to heartburn, avoid spicy foods for several hours before bed.
  • Avoid drinking too many beverages before bedtime. The added fluids can cause you to frequently wake up through the night to use the bathroom.
  • Everyone knows to avoid caffeine before bed because it's a stimulant. But did you know that you should avoid caffeine for at least six to eight hours before bed? It takes that long for the stimulant effects to be eliminated from the body.
  • You may think that alcohol will help you sleep because it initially makes you feel tired. However, alcohol prevents the body from entering deeper stages of sleep, and can cause you to not sleep through the night.

If certain foods should be avoided for better sleep, are there foods that can actually help you sleep? This is a little more complicated, but I did come across three foods over and over while researching this topic.

Young woman sleeping with glasses next to her and head on arm, close-up

Three Foods Known To Help You Sleep

  • Cherries are one of the only natural food sources of melatonin, the chemical that controls the body's internal clock to regulate sleep.
  • Bananas are rich in potassium and magnesium, both natural muscle relaxants.
  • Oatmeal - Carbohydrate-rich foods trigger insulin production, which help induces sleep.  Oats are also rich in melatonin.

It's also thought that foods high in tryptophan (a precursor of serotonin) can help regulate sleep patterns, as well. Foods high in tryptophan include:

  • Milk
  • Lean Meat (such as turkey)
  • Cheese
  • Nuts
  • Fish
  • Pumpkin and Sunflower Seeds
  • Bananas

Remember that it's still important not to eat just before bed. Instead, try making these foods part of a small, nutritious snack to enjoy a few hours before bedtime.

When it comes to getting a good night's sleep, it's really about finding what works best for you. Most likely, it will be a combination of things (not just one) that will be helpful. In addition to knowing what foods to avoid and what foods might be beneficial, there are still other things you can do to increase your chances for a better night's sleep.

Additional Tips for a Good Night's Sleep


1.Keep your bedroom quiet, cool, and comfortable.

2. Stop watching television and/or using your computer at least an hour before bed.

3. Relax in a bath or with a good book in the hour before bed.

4. Take steps to reduce your level of stress.

5. Get to bed at the same time each night.

6. Limit (or avoid) naps.

7. Get regular exercise (but avoid exercising just before bed).

8. When needed, seek professional help with chronic sleep problems.

Do you find certain foods help you sleep better? Share your sleep secrets with us in comments.

Also See

Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan
Also at Catherine-Morgan.com

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