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Sleep Science

7 Best Foods That Help You Sleep

There are few things greater in life than a good nights sleep. Good sleep can improve your memory, your concentration, your mood, and even help you maintain your weight. Many of us struggle with getting enough sleep but there are things you can do to sleep better. Today we're looking at the 7 Best Foods That Help You Sleep.

What nutrients help you sleep?

First of all, let's take a look at exactly what it is about certain foods that improve our sleep. According to The Sleep Council, research has found that certain nutrients found in food play an underlying role in if we will get longer or shorter sleep. If longer and better quality sleep is what you're after, it's important to include these nutrients in your diet:

  • Lycopene - this is found in red and orange coloured foods
  • Carbohydrates - staying away from refined carbohydrates is always best
  • Vitamin C
  • Selenium - this is found in nuts, meat, and shellfish
  • Lutein/Zeaxanthin - found in leafy greens that are rich in stress-reducing calcium

Which foods should I avoid before bed?

Sleeping badly can make you crave foods high in sugar, fat, and caffeine. This is because these kinds of foods tend to give us bouts of high energy and keep us awake. If you're trying to get better sleep, it's best to avoid anything high in sugar, fat, or caffeine. If you drink caffeine as part of your daily routine, try not to drink any in the afternoon as this could interfere with your sleep.

What are the best foods that help you sleep?

Now we've taken a look at the science behind which foods help you sleep and what to avoid. Let's find out what the best foods that help you sleep are:

1. Almonds

Almonds are packed with nutrients and have many health benefits because of it. They are an excellent source of many nutrients including, phosphorus, manganese, riboflavin, and melatonin. It has been claimed Almonds help boost your sleep quality. This is because almonds, among several other types of nuts, contain the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin. Eating a handful of almonds can provide you with many key-nutrients and boost your sleep quality.

Almonds in a black bowl against dark rustic wooden background

2. Banana

Bananas are an easy addition to your daily diet, add them to a smoothie, or eat them as a snack. They are full of amazing nutrients and can even help keep your heart health in check. Bananas contain natural muscle relaxants magnesium and potassium which can help you feel tired. They're also a source of healthy carbohydrates which can help promote tiredness.

3. Kiwi

Kiwifruit contains many sleep-promoting compounds including melatonin, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. They're low in calories making them the perfect bedtime snack. Kiwi's an even help your digestive system because of their anti-inflammatory properties. In one small study, people who ate two kiwifruits 1 hour before bedtime for 4 weeks noticed their total sleep time improved and it also took them less time to fall asleep.

4. Fatty Fish

Fatty fish like tuna, salmon, and mackerel can be great for improving sleep. What makes them different from other foods is their unique vitamin D content. The combination of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids in these types of fish have the potential to improve sleep quality. This is because both of these vitamins have been shown to increase the production of serotonin, a sleep-promoting chemical in the brain.

Fried salmon fillet, seasonings on blue rustic concrete background. Cooked salmon steak with pepper, herbs, lemon, garlic, olive oil, wooden spoon.

5. Walnuts

Walnuts, like almonds are packed with sleep-promoting nutrients like manganese, serotonin, and melatonin. These nutrients can also help boost your mood and energy levels making them a great addition to your daily diet.

6. Cherries

Cherries are a great natural source of melatonin, the chemical that helps control our inner body clock. They're also a rich source of antioxidants which help reduce inflammation in the body. Tart cherry juice has also been known to promote sleepiness so why not have a glass of cherry juice next time you can't sleep.

Cherries in a white bowl placed on a a table cloth with cherries around it.

7. Warm Milk

Milk has been a staple drink at bedtime for helping many of us drift off. This is because milk contains an amino acid called tryptophan which helps the production of serotonin. Serotonin has been known to aid with falling asleep quicker and can also be a mood booster. So whether it's the serotonin or the childhood memories, milk is definitely a good thing to try when you can't fall asleep.

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An image of the author, Jamie Latham, Sleep and Technology Expert Jamie Latham, Sleep and Technology Expert Bio & articles

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