A bowl of foods for better sleep

Top Foods for Better Sleep

How to improve your sleep through nutrition

 

We all know that certain dietary sources like coffee or alcohol can disturb your sleep. But how can you improve your sleep with nutrition? Are there any foods which can help you sleep better? 

 

How does nutrition affect your sleep?

Your diet can be key to the quality of your sleep. If your diet is low in fibre or lacks vitamins and minerals, it may cause sleeping issues. Also, if you consume lots of saturated fats and sugar, you may wake up at night or have poorer quality sleep. 

In another article we explain how poor nutrition can affect your sleep:

Can poor nutrition cause sleep problems?



But here we will focus on what dietary choices will help you sleep better. 

In this article you can find:

  1. What minerals, amino acids and vitamins have biggest impact on sleep
  2. Best foods sources of those nutrients 
  3. Answers to frequently asked questions about nutrition for better sleep 



What foods help you sleep better?

 

What to eat for better sleep

 

There are certain groups of products such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, teas and others, which can improve your sleep. Vitamins and minerals in your food help you regulate the sleep hormones: serotonin and melatonin. So you can get better sleep thanks to improving your hormonal balance; you can achieve it through a diet rich in specific nutrients. 

 

Let’s look into what exactly your body needs for good restful sleep and lack of which nutrients can cause sleep issues. 



What vitamins and minerals improve sleep and where to find them?

 

Below are the key vitamins, minerals and amino acids which affect your sleep.

 

If you have sleeping issues, you may lack the following nutrients:
  • magnesium
  • zinc
  • potassium 
  • iron
  • calcium 
  • tryptophan
  • l-theanine
  • vitamins: D, E, B6, C
  • vitamin B12, but note that excess of this vitamin can also cause insomnia 
  • melatonin 

 

Now as we know what nutrients we need in our diet for better sleep, let’s see where to find them and what foods are rich in them. 

 

Magnesium 

 

What vegetables and fruit are high in magnesium? Which nuts have the most magnesium?
Best magnesium sources in your food: 
  • pumpkin seeds 
  • chia seeds
  • cocoa 
  • oats
  • buckwheat and other whole grains 
  • beans 
  • walnuts
  • almonds
  • cashews 
  • bananas
  • mangos
  • oranges
  • spinach
  • soymilk
  • yoghourt 
  • edamame 

 

Potassium

 

What is the best source of potassium?
Potassium rich foods:
  • beans
  • leafy greens
  • avocados
  • bananas
  • potatoes 
  • raisins, apricots
  • mushrooms
  • zucchini
  • pumpkin 
  • nuts
  • lentils 

 

Zinc

What foods are naturally high in zinc?
Zinc can be found in the following foods:
  • beef 
  • nuts 
  • seeds 
  • buckwheat
  • oysters
  • crab meat 
  • lobster 
  • yoghourt 
  • pumpkin seeds 
  • avocados
  • blackberries
  • baked beans 

 

Tryptophan

How can I increase my tryptophan naturally?
Foods rich in tryptophan:
  • eggs
  • fish
  • meat
  • sesame seeds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • sunflower seeds
  • cheese
  • oats
  • milk
  • leafy greens
  • mushrooms

 

Vitamin D

What is the best source of vitamin D?

The best source of vitamin D is directly from the sun. But if you live in a country which doesn’t get a lot of sunshine or spend a lot of time indoors, here is a list of foods containing vitamin D. 

 

Best of dietary sources of vitamin D:
  • fatty fish: salmon, herring, tuna, trout 
  • egg yolk
  • red meat
  • liver
  • mushrooms
  • oranges 


Vitamin B6

What products are good sources of vitamin B6?
Foods rich in vitamin B6:
  • pork
  • chicken
  • turkey
  • leafy greens 
  • bananas
  • oats
  • starchy vegetables
  • avocados
  • chickpeas 
  • tofu
  • avocado
  • rice
  • potatoes

 

Vitamin E

What foods have high vitamin E content? 
Best sources of vitamin E:
  • sunflower seeds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • wheat germ
  • red bell  peppers
  • almonds
  • peanuts
  • spinach
  • avocado
  • tuna 

 

Vitamin C

Which food is highest in vitamin C?
Foods high in vitamin C:
  • blackcurrants
  • guava 
  • parsley 
  • lemons
  • oranges
  • orange or lemon juice
  • tomato juice 
  • strawberries 
  • onion
  • green and red peppers 
  • potatoes
  • broccoli
  • kiwi
  • papaya

 

Calcium

What food is highest in calcium?
Good sources of calcium:
  • milk
  • yoghourt 
  • cheese
  • leafy greens
  • figs
  • soybeans
  • baked beans
  • apricots
  • kiwi
  • oranges
  • eggs
  • nuts


L-theanine

What foods are high in L-theanine?
Natural sources of l-theanine:
  • green tea
  • black tea
  • porcini mushrooms 



Melatonin 

What foods give you melatonin?
Foods containing melatonin include:
  • milk
  • cherries 
  • rice 
  • mushrooms 
  • bananas 
  • pistachios



So these are the best foods which promote better sleep. What else can you do to sleep better. Here are a few more things to consider, e.g. bedtime teas and spices.

 

Bedtime teas

What kind of tea helps you sleep are:
  • chamomile
  • lemon balm
  • valerian 
  • passionflower 
  • lavender
  • magnolia bark 
  • rooibos
  • lemon verbena 
  • Peppermint 



Other foods which promote good sleep:

  • ashwagandha
  • cinnamon
  • maca root 
  • saffron 

 

Frequently Asked Questions about diet and sleep

 

Do bananas help you sleep?

Yes. Bananas are rich in magnesium, potassium, tryptophan and vitamin B6. All these nutrients promote better sleep. 

 

Does almond milk help you sleep?

Yes, almond milk contains magnesium, tryptophan and melatonin, so almond milk is a good bedtime drink for better sleep. 

 

Does oatmeal help you sleep?

Yes, oats are a good source of magnesium, melatonin and tryptophan which improve sleep. 

 

Does B12 help with sleep?

Yes, vitamin B12 deficiency  is linked to poor sleep. However, too high levels of vitamin B12 can have the opposite effect and can cause insomnia, so it’s about the right amount and balance. 

 

Does hot chocolate help you sleep?

Yes! Hot chocolate is rich in magnesium from the cocoa. Also, milk in hot chocolate promotes sleep (including milk alternatives such as almond and oat milk). 

 

Can cinnamon help you sleep?

Yes, cinnamon helps to relax muscles, so it can help you go to sleep more easily. 

 

Is peppermint tea good for sleep?

Yes. Peppermint is a good muscle relaxant so peppermint tea can help you drift off to sleep. 

 

Which milk is best for sleep?

Yes, almond milk is the best milk for sleep. Why? Almond milk is a natural source of tryptophan, which promotes serotonin and melatonin production. 

 

Does honey help you sleep?

Yes. Honey promotes melatonin secretion, so it can help you sleep. 

 

Does eating more protein help sleep?

Yes, according to research a diet high in protein can improve sleep quality in middle-age adults. But a late meal rich in protein can cause poorer sleep, so the meal time is important here. 

 

Can too much protein cause sleep problems?

Yes, if you consume high-protein foods before bedtime, it can cause sleep problems. High-protein foods take longer to digest and your body has to work to process them instead of relaxing for a deep sleep. 

 

I am eating a healthy diet, can I be lacking any nutrients?

 

Yes, unfortunately this is becoming a more and more common issue, even for people who choose the right foods in their daily diet. The lack of vitamins and minerals can influence your energy levels, sleep quality, immunity and overall wellbeing. The reason for that is the progressing soil depletion. Even though you might be eating lots of fruits and vegetables (even the organic ones), they don’t have the same nutrients as they used to have even 50 years ago. So if your diet is already rich in the foods for better sleep we mentioned above, you may want to consider taking supplements. 

 

Conclusion

The lack of vitamins, minerals and amino acids can contribute to poor sleep. But you can let your food be your medicine. A diverse and balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, herbs and spices can help you improve your sleep and overall wellbeing. 

 

What are your dietary tricks to get better sleep? What foods you notices to improve your sleep? Share in the comments!



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